The iconic Academy Awards, which celebrates the best in film, will take place this weekend, and some people have made predictions as to who will go home with an Oscar.
According to Stephanie Merry of the Washington Post, two of the categories do not have a clear winner this year. She described it as a one of those "coin-toss years" that could go to either "Birdman" or "Boyhood."
"This is one of those coin-toss years - at least for best picture and director," Merry wrote. "[It's] either a surreal movie about the entertainment industry or a touching coming-of-age drama. A movie filmed to look like it was shot in one long take or a decade-plus project with cuts a year apart."
Merry reported that the "predictions industry" as to who wins an Oscar this weekend is expanding. She looked into predictions made by movie experts, the "Internet mind hive," and those who bet on exchange markets and websites.
"Who are you going to trust to ensure glory at your Oscars viewing party pool?" Merry wrote. "You could watch all the movies and come to your own conclusions, but who has time for that?"
Merry looked at the predictions made by GoldDerby, which she described as a website "that aggregates picks from entertainment journalists and users." One of the Oscar predictions for Best Picture came from American journalist Michael Musto, who debated with GoldDerby founder Tom O'Neil.
"'Birdman' won the [Producers Guild Award]! It won the [Directors Guild of America Award]!" Musto said. "We know for a fact that the PGA has a tremendous bearing. For the past 5 years it's predicted the Oscar winner."
However, Musto changed his mind after O'Neil pointed out that "Boyhood" won Best Picture at BAFTA. O'Neil pointed out that the British awards ceremony correctly predicted the top Oscar for six years in a row.
"All that being said, I'm really not sure," Musto conceded. "I wouldn't be surprised if 'Boyhood' won."
O'Neil admitted that predicting the Oscar winner for Best Picture can be "confounding," adding that "even two huffy Oscar Know-It-Alls like Musto and me must concede that, suddenly, we're Oscar idiots."
Merry then looked into the "Internet hive mind," mostly through comments made on Disqus. She elaborated on how that company analyzed what people thought about the Oscars.
"Disqus used an algorithm to analyze the language in more than 200,000 comments and then awarded an 'optimism score' to Oscar nominees," Merry wrote.
For instance, comments that favored "Boyhood" winning Best Picture received a higher optimism score, while negative comments lowered it. Disqus elaborated on its analysis on a company blog written by user steveroy44.
"When examining what movies generated the most attention across Disqus, 'American Sniper' and 'Selma' dominated all coverage of the films nominated for best picture," steveroy44 wrote. "Those two films alone accounted for 82 percent of page views."
In terms of commentary on Disqus, steveroy44 reported that "American Sniper" was the most talked-about film across the United States. However, "Selma" was a hot talking point in the states of Georgia, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Wyoming.
As for the film that's going to walk away with the Oscar for Best Picture, based on 3,300 comments collected by Disqus, "Boyhood" had the best chance with an "optimism score" of 85.7 percent, followed by "Birdman" with 77.2 percent and "American Sniper" with 64.2 percent.
"We did the same thing for best actor, best actress and best director: the big predicted winners there are Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore and Richard Linklater respectively," steveroy44 wrote.
Finally, the Washington Post then looked at exchange markets and betting websites to check their Oscar predictions. Merry noted that European betting markets, where people use real money to reinforce their predictions, had more accuracy than the Hollywood Stock Exchange, were users could only trade fake money thanks to restrictive U.S. laws.
"It turns out that when people are putting up real cash, they tend to put more thought into their selections, which in turn can be uncannily predictive," Merry wrote. "The Oscar betting markets in England are large and growing."
Leighton Vaughan Williams, director of the Betting Research Unit and Political Forecasting Unit at Nottingham Trent University's Business School, told Merry that based on the betting trends, the clear favorite for best picture is "Birdman," while Patricia Arquette is the lead pick for best supporting actress and Eddie Redmayne leads over Keaton for best actor.
"The betting markets almost entirely predicted the Oscar nominees and correctly favored 'Boyhood' and Richard Linklater wins at the BAFTAs," Merry wrote.
The entire list of nominations for the 87th Academy Awards can be found on its official website. The Oscars will air live starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on ABC in the United States.