Statistics peg Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water as the likeliest Best Picture winner at this year's Oscars. Another awards season comes to a close on March 4, when the 90th Academy Awards take place. By now, all of the high-profile precursors have weighed in, providing some clarity on what has been a wide open race. No definitive frontrunner ever emerged on the campaign, although del Toro's fantasy romance is the closest thing to a favorite thanks to big wins at the Producers Guild and Directors Guild earlier this year. However, it faces a good deal of competition from other contenders.
In a stark contrast from previous years (think La La Land vs. Moonlight and Birdman vs. Boyhood), even the most accomplished award pundits are having a difficult time predicting 2018's Best Picture winner. As cinephiles look for any edge they can get in their betting pools, perhaps old fashioned math can serve as the crystal ball for how things will go down.
THR's Ben Zauzmer continued his annual tradition of analyzing "data and statistics" in an attempt to predict the Oscar winners. For the top prize, Shape of Water (36.1% chance of winning) narrowly edged out Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (31% chance). Though Martin McDonagh's dark dramedy was victorious as the Golden Globes and scored the SAG Award for best ensemble, the fact Shape of Water earned 13 Oscar nominations (one shy of the all-time record) pushed it ahead of the pack. Additionally, McDonagh's Best Director snub was cited, as it's extremely rare for a film to win Best Picture without a Directing nod. The last movie to accomplish that feat was Ben Affleck's Argo. Del Toro is also expected to win Best Director based on Zauzmer's model.
While Best Picture seems to be a nail-biter, the four acting categories are essentially wrapped up. Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, and Allison Janney are the runaway favorites for their respective awards, after each one swept the major precursors. Best Adapted Screenplay also appears to be a wash, with Zauzmer's model giving Call Me By Your Name a 75% chance of winning. The drama was the only film in that field to earn a Best Picture nomination, indicating it has the most support from the voters. Comic book fans are obviously hopeful Logan can crash the party after its surprise nod, but it looks to have an outside chance at best. Fortunately (for those who like intrigue), Best Original Screenplay is too close to call. Three contenders (Get Out, Three Billboards, and Lady Bird) have more than a 20% chance of winning.
Of course, these are just predictions, so it's possible the Academy throws some curveballs on Oscar Sunday. The Best Picture winner is determined by a preferential ballot, which means sometimes a film with a sizable amount of second and third-place votes ends up the victor. Several of the films in contention are well-liked by many, so film buffs will just have to tune in to see what happens.