Nate Silver’s Heart Isn’t in Oscar Predictions

With the seeming success of the “Carpetbagger” blog, everyone at the New York Times seems to be getting into the Oscar-coverage game: Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott are taking questions from readers on the ceremony, Frank Bruni is reviewing cocktails named after the nominees (don’t try the “James Franco!”), and indomitable statistics machine Nate Silver is doing a statistical analysis of the race

Silver’s fearsomely accurate when it comes to predicting election results–that’s why the Times took him on as a contributor. And yet the Oscar race may not be the best use of his talents–he claims that Best Actress nominee Annette Bening gets a boost from losing the Oscar twice (she gets even more sympathy, in reality, for having lost thrice), and refers to Natalie Portman’s performance in the movie The Black Swan. He also notes that Melissa Leo beat Hailee Steinfeld at the Golden Globes (Steinfeld wasn’t nominated). More pertinently, though, the Oscar race is either completely straightforward at this point–Colin Firth will of course handily win, Nate Silver notes–or defined by intangibles. Melissa Leo’s self-financed Oscar campaign isn’t subject to polling the way Hillary Clinton’s red-phone ad was, nor do precursor awards ceremonies actually tote up delegates for the Oscars as do primary campaigns. Poor Silver: once one has gone from personal blogging to the Times, one must play by their rules, even if it means forcible carpetbagging!

(Would this be a gauche moment to mention that The Observer will be liveblogging the Oscars, here, on Sunday night? Don’t worry–we’ll leave attempted statistics out of it!) :: @DPD_ Nate Silver’s Heart Isn’t in Oscar Predictions