Oscar Predictions: Mathematician creates method to guess Academy Awards winners

ByAlicia Vitarelli WABC logo
Sunday, February 9, 2020
Oscarmetrics: Mathematician Creates Method to Predict Oscar Winners
If you have a little informal Oscar pool going, you might want to pick up a book by a Montgomery County author, movie buff and math enthusiast.

Hollywood's biggest night is here, and if you have a little informal Oscars pool going, you might want to pick up a book by a Montgomery County, Pennsylvania author, movie buff and math enthusiast.

Ben Zauzmer designed a method to predict the big winners. He calls it Oscarmetrics: The Math Behind The Biggest Night in Hollywood.

"Over my course of predicting the Oscars, 77% of the time the favorite wins," Zauzmer says.

He starts with the stats: who has won what so far this awards season - say, at the Golden Globes - and the various guild awards

If there are multiple nominations, the probabilities go up.

Also in his equation?

"Rotten Tomatoes scores," he says. "I have also found in my book that if you have been nominated a lot, but haven't won, that gives you a 5% boost."

The 27-year-old Upper Dublin High School grad is now a baseball analyst for the L.A. Dodgers. He created Oscarmetrics while a student at Harvard University.

"I was a freshman in college and I'm a math guy and big movie fan."

And he does his research. He comes home to Dresher every year for the family's annual Oscar marathon.

"We all gather and watch all of the Best Picture nominees each year," Zauzmer says.

This year, he says some awards are pretty much a lock.

"The Best Actor math is very confident that Joaquin Phoenix in 'Joker' is the favorite," he says.

"Best Actress? This is another person who has dominated awards season - Renee Zellweger in 'Judy.'

So, what's his Best Picture prediction?

"'1917', but it's far from a guarantee," he explains.

"Sometimes events with smaller probabilities happen. It's what we call 'upsets' and it's why the Oscars are so much fun!"

Ben is tweeting out all of his predictions through his account @BensOscarMath. He will also live tweet during the Oscars.

When asked if he puts his money where his math is?

"Nah," he says. "I never bet on the Oscars and I never will. This is just for fun."