Nate Silver Predicted Most Of The Oscar Winners, Too

Nate Silver is now a famous statistician, after correctly calling the presidential election in every state for 2012, and all but one state for 2008. For his next trick, he’s applied his calculus on the movies: on the Friday morning before the Oscars, he published predictions for the main categories and got four of the six right:

  • Best picture: correctly called Argo, with Zero Dark Thirty being a distant second
  • Best director: incorrectly called Spielberg (Lincoln) as a narrow favorite over the actual winner, Ang Lee (Life of Pi). In the write-up, he explains that this was a shaky prediction to make, because his top two choices — Ben Affleck for Argo and Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty — were actually not even nominated.
  • Best actor: correctly called Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), with Bradley Cooper being a distant second (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Best actress: correctly called Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), with Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) not being far behind
  • Best supporting actor: this was a pretty big mistake, as he predicted the winner would be Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), with Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) as a second possibility not that far behind. But he forecast that the actual winner, Cristoph Waltz (Django Unchained), was third most likely to win — though very closely behind Hoffman.
  • Best supporting actress: correctly called Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), with Sally Field (Lincoln) being a distant second.

Not bad at all. He made the predictions by looking at historical data for 16 other awards shows, like the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and BAFTAs. Now if only he could bring that kind of forecasting accuracy to economics.

Nate Silver


See also:

From The New York Times, via Slashdot

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