Tag Archives: academy awards

Leadership Transition: Argo Overtakes Lincoln…for Now

As we mentioned in our previous post on PGA and SAG, there may be some shifting momentum in the Best Picture race.  In fact, in the last few days, betting markets have begun to favor Argo for Best Picture over Lincoln.  Interestingly, the markets have been fluctuating significantly.  Following its win at PGA, Argo was up but still below Lincoln. Following SAG on Sunday, Argo skyrocketed.  But by Monday morning, Argo was back down to levels below Lincoln, near where it was post-PGA and pre-SAG.  In the last 24 hours, however, Argo has again begun to gain.

This indicates that the underlying dynamics of this race remain in flux. Sentiment continues to change and evolve.  And, we’ll have yet another data-point come this weekend’s Directors Guild of America (“DGA”) Awards.  Should Affleck win over Spielberg, we would expect the Argo momentum in the betting markets to continue. Fundamentally, if Affleck wins DGA, many pundits will question how he was passed over for an Oscar nomination for Best Director in the first place.  Should Spielberg take home the DGA Award, he will be the clear front runner for the Oscar for Best Director, and his win may stymie the strong sentiment for Argo we’re seeing in the betting markets.

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PGA and SAG Cause Some Drama

We are marching towards February 24th. And this weekend marked a critical juncture: the Producers Guild of America Awards and the SAG AFTRA Awards were each held this weekend, providing us important new data points for the model.  And, it was some unexpected and exciting news.

On Saturday night, at the Producers Guild of America (“PGA”) Awards, Argo took home the top award. As we have mentioned before, PGA is one of the best indicators of the likely winner of the Oscar for Best Picture. But, as we have mentioned before, it is rare that a film wins Best Picture when the Director is not also nominated for Best Director.  Recall, Argo’s Director (Ben Affleck) was not nominated for Best Director.  Thus, we have a few signals that seem to conflict. This type of situation happens all the time in business planning, so we’re thankful that the PGA is giving us a chance to evaluate the situation.

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Which Leading Lady Will Win?

After reading the press yesterday, our vote for Best Actress would have to be for Lennay Kekua who stars in “The Manti Te’o Story”.  Alas she is not in the running – probably because she does not exist.  Instead, we are left with a woman playing slightly unstable and a woman who is a spook with the CIA.  Wait…that sounds a lot like whoever this Lennay Kekua woman actually may be.  The Best Actress race, like the Best Actor race, is largely down to two: Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain.  Both of these young beauties are accomplished actors.  Even beyond these two frontrunners, this category is rich with interesting nominees and stories, including the youngest and oldest nominees in Best Actress category in Oscar history.

Leading Ladies – Nominee Analysis:
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
It was only two years ago that Jennifer Lawrence burst onto the scene in Winter’s Bone.  The role earned her critical acclaim, including an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. She was only 20, and the second youngest nominee in the category in history.  Now at 22, she is the leading contender for the Oscar.  Intrade has Lawrence at 60.6%. She took home the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Comedy / Musical, and Best Actress in a Comedy at the Critics Choice Awards.  But Lawrence isn’t a type-cast actress. She also received the Critics Choice Award for Best Actress – Action, for her role in the Hunger Games in 2012.  Given her previous nomination, her strength in other awards this season, and her betting market strength, we have Lawrence at 53.5%.

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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly…The Best Director Nominees

When my little sister was growing up, she used to protest anything she didn’t want to do with the phrase, “You’re not the boss of me!”  I imagine that certain actors and actresses, and perhaps even others on the film crews for these Oscar nominees have the same attitude. And yet, there must be a captain to steer the ship.  With so many tried and true contenders in the race, it promises to be a good contest to watch.  In fact, previous nominations and wins is a strong signal for predicting future wins in the Best Director category.  Given that, along with other critical signals we discuss below, Spielberg is the current leader in the race.  Below we break down the candidates and the key factors influencing the model.

Nominee Review
The Legend: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
The man, the myth and the legend.  Spielberg helped inspire the term blockbuster, setting and breaking the Box Office record for a film’s opening three times.  As for the Oscars – Spielberg has previously won twice, and he has 7 nominations to his credit.  His first nomination came in 1977, 35 years ago.   But, he hasn’t been ubiquitous, winning year in and year out.  His last nomination was in 2005 for Munich when he lost to Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain. Coincidentally, Lee will contend with Steven again this year.  His strengths: He IS the Academy, a demographical archetype of the vast majority of voters. He is known and loved by his peers.  From a statistical perspective, Lincoln has more nominations than any other film this year, and the betting markets have placed the odds on Spielberg since day one. While Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) is a strong contender, Spielberg remains in the pole position, at 44.5% – down from a peak of 56.7% the morning of nominations.

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What Is Data Science Anyway?

Data Science, Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Advanced Analytics…what exactly does it all mean?  What if anything does it have to do with the Academy Awards? The Awards are given for art, not science, but the awarding of the statuettes is a process undertaken by a panel of around 5,000 humans that can be understood, and dare we say forecast, using data science.

All of those fancy terms refer to the application of rigorous statistical methods, mathematical analysis, and “machine learning” to better analyze information.  And ultimately, the goal is to use that analysis for better decision-making.
Technology – computing power, data transmission, the internet, the ubiquity of computers, social networking, communications and mobile devices – all of these incredible innovations have exponentially increased our ability and opportunity to collect, store and process data.  Thus evolved, and continues to evolve, modern “data science” – the discipline of analyzing and applying data for real world business solutions.

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What To Expect When You’re Expecting…Our Model That Is

First, let’s begin with a simple declaration that the Academy Awards are predictable. We don’t mean that to be pejorative.  But, we’ve done analysis and we’ve read analysis.  The Oscars have a defined set of nominees in any given category. There are quite a few variables, with historic results to test against.  It’s a data science dream!  And, better than elections, it is annual!  We are in data heaven.

Before we introduce you to the official Farsite model, there are quite a few interesting preliminary data points we would highlight to set expectations.  First – meet your voters. Just like the election, we have some good information about who comprises the voting block of the Academy.  There are 5,765 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; and, they are overwhelmingly white men.  Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian, and 77% male.  African Americans account for only 2% of the Academy, and Latinos are less than 2%.   The median age of Oscar voters is 62; for the record, that’s older than my parents.   People younger than 50 constitute just 14% of the membership.  We will tell you how much (or little) this impacts our predictions in due time, but we thought you’d like to meet the folks casting the ballots.

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Your Calendar of Events

Oscar Nominations: 1/10/2013
This is the morning when the nominees are announced.  In a relic of New York-Centrism, the Press Conference is held at 8AM Eastern.  This, despite the fact that Hollywood is the hub of the Oscars, and it’s an UNGODLY 5AM.  Don’t fret, we’ll live blog the nominations. This is the second most important day of the Oscar Season!

Critics Choice Awards: 1/10/2013
Everyone loves a critic, and we are no exception.  The Critics Choice Awards will give us a lot to talk about, as they provide a data point day one of the official Oscar Race.

Golden Globes: 1/13/2013
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association hosts what many consider the best fete of Awards season.  The Golden Globes are infamous as the one party where everyone is drunk half way through the show.  The last few recipients can barely mumble a speech.  We like our wine too, but these are pros.

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Farsite Takes to the Red Carpet with the 2013 Oscar Forecast

Data science, one of the top stories of the 2012 election, is a fast growing field.  We are the geeks who love numbers and dream in 1s and 0s.  In fact, we enjoy data so much that we built a company that helps customers harness the power of data to make better business decisions.   And, we decided this year to have a little fun with the numbers; We are pleased to announce the launch our 2013 Oscar Forecast.

We have all participated in an office Oscar pool, or wagered with our friends, as we watched the Academy Awards.  But, unlike the elections, the Oscars don’t get the star data treatment they deserve.  Sure, there are pundits at the LA Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.com.  In a world rich with data (yes, Hollywood is data rich!), Farsite is excited to bring Big Data to the big screen, and join those pundits in conversation about who will win.

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