The wisest thing to do in Oscar prediction in most years is a holistic approach. Start with Best Picture and let everything flow outward from that. Many technical or acting nominations throughout Oscar history are headscratchers unless you notice that their housing film was up for the big prize. People love what they love and they love blindly. Or, well, that's not right. That's... ungenerous. I don't think anyone is willfully myopic -- which is why diversity in Academy membership is so important -- it's just that we all have our limitations and our fields of vision can be narrowed by any number of things including time spent looking at options.
For my own awards -- which statistically always include more movies than Oscars field each year -- this is probably because I see more movies and I probably fuss over my ballot more than 90% of Academy voters. They're inside the raging storm (and as some of them have told me over the years they either see movies very early before they're out in the world or well after the fact depending on their connection to the filmmakers studios and demands of current projects) while we're outside the storm looking at it and able to consider it from more vantage points. Of course that always brings the danger of overthinking it, the #1 easiest trap for pundits. "Guilty!" I shout, knowing myself
Best Picture is unusually competitive this year and it's been a clogged up mess. The sudden lurching away from critical darlings Carol & Mad Mad Fury Road -- no secret at all that they're my two favorite films of the year -- that some pundits were predicting to lead the nomination tallies as recently as a week or two ago, toward more traditional Oscar Bait like The Revenant and The Big Short (read: heavily masculine, more traditional in form and message) has been a bit disheartening. I go on about this and the gender bias of Best Picture in my intermittent column at Towleroad. I am hopeful that Carol will be nominated still but it's no sure thing. I expect Carol and Room and Brooklyn are in the same 'could go either way' boat .. and together with longer shots Sicario and Inside Out -- well it's hard to miss that these are all extremely well reviewed films with female leads. So why are none of them sure things? Oscar might me walking into an #OscarsSoMale situation tomorrow morning. But we'll cross our fingers and hope voters realized during balloting that women are 50% of the human race and their stories aren't any less important and when they're told so gorgeously it'd be a real shame to pass them over.