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There’s no real formula one can use to win an Oscar … except this one.
Researcher David Shaw broke down the history of Academy Award winner for Delayed Gratification, focusing on the winners in the Best Actor and Best Actress categories. They start with Emil Jannings (who won in 1928 for both The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh) and Janet Gaynor (who won for participating in THREE features that year: Seventh Heaven; Street Angel; and Sunrise). The chart is a hot mess of colorful lines. Staring at it for longer than a minute can induce migraine headaches. But here are a few of the major factors the research revealed.
The chart highlights roles that ticked all the boxes on this chart, from Al Pacino’s 1992 turn as Col. Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman to Diane Keaton in Woody Allen’s 1977 masterpiece Annie Hall:
I like where the chart breaks down nonsensical categories. Seventeen percent of male winners had a mustache, but 18% had beards. And if you followed the results, the women had more "long-shot" winners, meaning actresses like Kate Winslet (The Reader), Nicole Kidman (The Hours) and Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry) won despite only qualifying in one of the spotlighted categories.
Using these dominant characteristics, who has the best chance at winning an Oscar this year? Best Actress frontrunners Meryl Streep (August: Osage County), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) and Sandra Bullock (Gravity) can put check marks in most of the boxes … though I can’t recall if Blanchett slept with Peter Sarsgaard in Allen’s latest movie. That might hurt her chances! As for the Best Actor race, Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) and Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) all lose points right up front for playing real people this year. Advantage: The bearded Bruce Dern, for Nebraska. Is the chart right? We’ll find out more early next year.