As Oscar Season revs up, I wanted to take stock of what I have learned in the time I devoted to following the Oscars in years past.
It has taken me years to gain a certain level of understanding of the inner workings of the Academy. Part of the esteem of the Academy is in its ability to maintain a shroud of mystery, even with today's environment of media transparency and the 24 hour news cycle of social media.
Some practices to contemplate:
Best Picture. This category has a history of having ten nominated films, scaling down to five and then back to ten in 2010 and 2011. It is often said that The Dark Knight's exclusion from the list of 2009's Best Picture nominees is why the category was increased back to ten. The 84th Annual Academy Awards introduced the new system that nominated nine films in 2012 and 2013. The number of films nominated for Best Picture is based on the weighted votes received during the nomination process. There can be anywhere from five to ten films nominated for Best Picture this year (the March, 2nd 2014 Awards show will honor the movies of 2013).
Best Documentary Feature. For award year 2013 for example, there were 126 qualified films for the documentary feature category. The movies must be released in theaters that allow for review by the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times. 15 films are shortlisted and then the members of Documentary Branch of the Academy voted for the five eventual nominees.
Governors of each branch meet and vote to change the rules on an annual basis. There is a reason the Academy is an institution, they are organized and they have the history to back it up.
More info than you might think is available on the official Oscar website, Oscars.org. Updates on the Academy's rules and branches and a complete history the winners and nominees are available there.
Never Too Early Movie Predictions, took on a huge undertaking in the time following the 2012 Oscar season to attempt to identify the 6,608 members of the Academy and the research is ongoing. See the Academy Members Project. Over half of the Academy was identified as of July 2013. The Academy has been releasing the names of each year's invitees since 2004 making the current info relatively easy to collect. It's the search for all members, in all branches, covering the entire span of history of the Academy that poses the immense challenge. This info is a rabbit hole for me, I can get all caught up in it so I will move on.
Never Too Early also has a wonderful explanation on the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.
I predicted 18 of 2012's 24 categories correctly and my best years were 2009, 2010 and 2013, when I went 19/24. My goal is to get 20 or more category predictions correct and have a new best year. It's been a goal since 2011 that will continue into 2014.
For posterity, my stats are below. These are more for my own edification than anything else.
2013: 19/24 KG; 17/24 EW print & 21/24 EW online *all three selected Skyfall for Sound Editing which tied with Zero Dark Thirty.
2012: 18/24 KG; 19/24 DK
2011: 17/24 KG; 16/24 DK
2010: 19/24 KG; 19/24 DK -- tie
2009: 19/24 KG; 21/24 DK
2008: 14/24 KG; 15/24 EW
2007: no record
saved KG; 12/24 DK
2006: 15/24 KG; 17/24 DK
2005: 15/24 KG; 17/24
2004: the year of my first party, didn't save any ballots; 21/24
--the DK years are times that Dave Karger predicted the major categories and other
writers of Entertainment Weekly reported on/predicted the remaining categories. In 2012, Karger was no longer with EW. He did not predict beyond the main categories so my so-to-so speak scorecard is now strictly against EW. Though EW has the added trick of having print and online predictions. Online they can update for last minute info and get pretty near to perfect predictions.
Please note the latest addition to my shout outs for fellow bloggers. New to the list, Beer Borough NW, a great beer blogger in Portland whom I had the pleasure of meeting at this past week's Holiday Ale Fest in Pioneer Square.