As a treat for you readers, I interviewed the king of Oscar predicting, the one who started it all way back when, Tom O’Neil. Gold Derby has been revamped and improved continually over the years, and now includes a small calendar near the predictions that will take you back to a moment in time to see what people were thinking when. That is especially helpful this year, with so many wild and off the wall predictions happening so early. Tom’s site, like my site, is one of the few independents left on the web, and is a one-stop website for all predicting fun. They have an active forum that I’m afraid to look at, and each person can have their own predicting account to up against other users to see what does it best. On my site, the people who tend to do the best in the contests usually aren’t “in the business” as pundits. So I was wondering if he had the same experience, if the users were better than the pros. Here are his answers.
1.) Who gets higher scores, the pundits or the users?
Best scores for predicting last year’s Oscars at Gold Derby: Our official GD odds (which combine Experts, Editors, Users and Top 24 Users) and GD Editors tied for 91.67%, which is 22 out of 24 categories. We Experts and all Users got 87.5%, which is 21 out of 24 categories. Here are the links to see the breakdowns:
2) What does “top users” mean?
Top 24 Users are those who had the best scores last year when predicting that particular award event. Therefore, we had 2 different Top 24 teams predicting the Oscar nominations and winners. Whoever lands in the Top 24 of our leaderboards after we count up scores automatically advances forward in a team to compete against our Experts, Editors and Users. If one of our Top 24 from last year does not return this year then our computer dips down our leaderboard to find the next person with highest score, etc. It’s all automated. It’s crazy, but some of our users don’t even know they’re in those Top 24 charts. At Gold Derby, we need to do a better job of promoting all that, I know, I know.
3. What’s the biggest mistake people make when predicting the Oscars?
Biggest mistake people make when predicting the Oscars or Golden Globes is to assume that voters are actually voting for what they believe is the best of anything. That’s absurd. They’re voting for their friends, who they like and who they don’t. Usually they’re voting for a nominee because they hear everybody else is voting for that film/person too. When I ask academy members why they do that, why they keep rubber-stamping precursor awards, the answer I get most frequently, “I want to be on the winning team.”
4. Do you think there will be many surprises this year? Why does it always go as planned?
No, there won’t be many surprises at the Oscar nominations. Check out our predictions for last year – we got 70% correct.
The biggest “surprises” were the snubs of Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) and Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) for acting after they both received bids from Globes, SAG and Critics’ Choice. Oh, yeah, and no Oprah for “The Butler.” But we knew those films were in trouble.
5. Is anyone going to watch the show if they haven’t seen the movies?
Yes. Gabillions of people watched the Oscarcast last year without seeing “12 Years a Slave.” I’m still trying to find more than 8 academy members who saw the movie even though they voted for it (because they wanted to be on the winning team). Shocking. Shocking!