OscarLytics, Part III: Math Predicts 'Gravity' Wins in Technical Categories

Warner Bros.

Best production design remains a virtual toss up, with "The Great Gatsby," "12 Years a Slave," "American Hustle" and "Gravity" all vying for the win.

Editor’s Note: Ben Zauzmer (@BensOscarMath) is a big fan of the Oscars, as well an applied math major at Harvard. For the past two years, he has predicted the Oscars using nothing but math, calling 75 percent in 2012 and 81 percent in 2013. This year, he’s teaming up with The Hollywood Reporter to bring you his Oscar predictions, which are purely based on math. See THR’s Feinberg Forecast for a look at the Oscar race that takes into account other factors). Who do you think will win? Vote now on THR's Oscars Ballot.

The March 2 Oscar ceremony is just days away now, and it’s time to fill out that office pool ballot. In my final round of predictions – check here and here for the first two installments – Gravity is on track to pick up several awards. But some categories – especially production design where The Great Gatsby has just a very narrow edge over 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle and Gravity – should still offer plenty of suspense.

STORY: How Oscar Statuettes Are Made 

Once again, a reminder about methodology, I calculate all of these standings using only math; no personal preferences or hunches are involved. I use data from previous years, such as other awards shows, other nomination categories, and critic scores, to determine the relative weights of each factor for each Oscar category.

So let’s start with sound editing:


Don’t think twice when filling out your Oscar ballot – this one isn’t close.


The probable winner isn’t as clear-cut as it is in the sound editing category, but Gravity is still orbiting above the rest.


This is by far the single closest race of the night – just look at those top four percentages! Other than Her, every nominee pretty much has an equal chance of winning the Oscar.


Gravity’s Emmanuel Lubezki will finally win his first Oscar after five previous nominations. No contest.


No film cracked the 50 percent mark, but Gatsby’s BAFTA win put it solidly in first place.


The math in this category may surprise some people since Captain Phillips is not a best picture favorite, but it won the ACE Eddie Award given by the American Cinema Editors, and Rush, which the Academy didn’t nominate, took the BAFTA, so that leaves Phillips in first.


Other than best animated feature, this is the easiest category of the night. Even if watching Gravity didn’t convince you it deserved this award, the math certainly should.

Finally, there is not enough data to use math to predict best makeup and hairstyling or any of the three short film awards. For those you are on your own.