Your Best Picture Winner Is ...

no_country.jpg... No Country for Old Men.

A few months ago, I promised that I’d try to use the basic Box Office Power Rankings formula to predict a Best Picture winner. The hypothesis is that Best Picture winners tend to have a blend of prestige and popularity, and that a quantitative measure of those qualities might have predictive value.

The weekly rankings use two measures of critical opinion (Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic) and two measures of box-office performance (revenue and per-theater average) to present a more accurate picture of movies’ receptions.

For the first Oscar edition — I’ll update the numbers as we get closer to the February 24 ceremony — I still used Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, but I did three box-office measures: total domestic box office, box office per week of release, and box office per week per theater. Then, I assigned points (one through five, with five being best) based on each nominated movie’s performance with each criterion. And then, to give equal weight to critical opinion and box-office performance, I multiplied the box-office points by two-thirds. I know you don’t care about any of this shit, but I’m trying to show my work.

Anyway, here’s how the Best Picture nominees shake out: No Country for Old Men (15.0 points); Juno (14.3 points); There Will Be Blood (12.7 points); Atonement (10.0 points); and Michael Clayton (9.0 points).

I think that’s actually a very likely pick, and the only film I think likely to challenge No Country is the one you rank right behind it, close on its heels -- Juno could pull an upstart victory, Little Miss Sunshine-style, but then what are the chances of them giving the Oscar to the same type of picture two years in a row?

Ed: I had no idea how this exercise would come out when I plugged the numbers in, but the result seems pretty reasonable.

Of course, right or wrong doesn’t necessarily reflect on the soundness of my hypothesis or methodology. If this correctly predicts the Best Picture winner several years in a row, then we’ll talk.

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