Here’s the surest way to predict the best picture Oscar: Wait to see what wins the top award from the Producers Guild of America.
Guild awards aren’t the kind of thing most people pay attention to, and not all of them are good predictors of the Oscars over the long term. The Screen Actors Guild, for instance, is pretty accurate at predicting the acting categories, but its “overall” award — for outstanding performance by a cast — won’t help you much with best picture. In 1997, for instance, “Titanic” won the top Oscar while the top SAG Award went to “The Full Monty.”
The Producers Guild is different. Since inaugurating its awards in 1990, it has differed from the best picture Oscar only eight times. For a 25-year track record, that’s pretty good. (And one of those times was a PGA tie between “Gravity” and the eventual Oscar winner, “12 Years a Slave.”
This year, most pundits have been predicting “Spotlight,” the story of The Boston Globe reporters who uncovered the Catholic Church’s child-molestation scandal, as the surefire Oscar winner. Then something unexpected happened: The Producers Guild gave its top award to “The Big Short,” Adam McKay’s comedy-drama about the 2008 financial meltdown.
What’s a betting person to do? Stick with “Spotlight” and hope that this will be the ninth time in 25 years that the guild and the Oscars part ways? Or put your faith in statistics and go with “The Big Short?” Here’s one more factoid: Oddschecker, a website that aggregates the odds at various betting sites, still lists “Spotlight” as the picture to beat.