How Slate readers fared in predicting the Oscars.

All about the Academy Awards.
March 8 2010 9:07 AM

And the Award for Best Oscar Predictions Goes To …

Slate readers sweep the top six categories but trip up on screenplays and costumes.

Read the rest of Slate's coverage of the 82nd Academy Awards here.

The 3,500 Slate readers who entered our Oscars prediction contest last week successfully predicted the winners of the top six categories and went 10 for 13 for the night. An aggregated lineup of 30 critics, meanwhile—and not to be too smug about it—got five of the top six correct, barely holding out for Avatar for best picture over The Hurt Locker, which took the honors.

While there was insufficient data to aggregate expert picks for the smaller categories, Slatereaders correctly chose Up for the best score and best animated feature, Crazy Heart's "The Weary Kind" for best song, and Avatar for best cinematography. Screenplays proved more confounding. For both the adapted and original categories, the nod went to readers' second choices. In the wildcard category of best costume design, only 617 people chose The Young Victoria, which came in third among readers after Nine (798 votes) and Coco Before Chanel (888).

CategoryWinnerSlateCritics
Best PictureThe Hurt LockerThe Hurt LockerAvatar
Best ActorJeff BridgesJeff BridgesJeff Bridges
Best ActressSandra BullockSandra BullockSandra Bullock
Supporting ActorChristoph WaltzChristoph WaltzChristoph Waltz
Supporting ActressMo'NiqueMo'NiqueMo'Nique
Best DirectorKathryn BigelowKathryn BigelowKathryn Bigelow
ScoreUpUpn/a
Song"The Weary Kind""The Weary Kind"n/a
CinematographyAvatarAvatarn/a
Animated FeatureUpUpn/a
Adapted ScreenplayPreciousUp in the Airn/a
Original ScreenplayThe Hurt LockerInglourious Basterdsn/a
CostumesThe Young VictoriaCoco Before Chaneln/a

Of the 30 critics we surveyed, 15 chose Avatar, 14 went with The Hurt Locker, and one went with Inglourious Basterds. To be fair, one could look at this as a tie; the Los Angeles Times' savvy Oscars blog, which polled many of the critics included in our count, asked them to rank their picks for each category in accordance with the new instant runoff system. (TheNew Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg makes a strong case for why this system favored The Hurt Locker over the more polarizing Avatar.) Creative Screenwriting's Jeff Goldsmith, who chose Inglourious Basterds, ranked The Hurt Locker one spot above its gargantuan opponent. Judging by the other five awardsThe Hurt Locker took home, the academy was not so divided.

Update: 2 p.m.: Of the nearly 3,500 entrants, only one person, Bill Dixon of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, correctly guessed all 13 categories. Dixon, 68, says of his powers of prognostication: "It's hard to bet against the winners of the Golden Globes and SAG awards. I did see Precious and The Blind Side, but I haven't seen The Hurt Locker yet. The entire cast of Precious was outstanding and I'm just sorry that Gabourey Sidibe didn't get more recognition." Mathematically speaking, having one winner in 3,500 is not overwhelmingly likely. Even if one narrows each category to the top two most-likely choices, the odds of guessing them all correctly are 0.0122 percent, meaning an average of 0.43 people will be correct for every 3,500 who enter.

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Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.

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