Mean Oscar Prognosticator Gives Taraji P. Henson False Hope

Superstar statistician Nate Silver has used data upon data to accurately forecast some of baseball's and politics' most complex developments. So how to follow up the election? How else: by being wrong at the Oscars.

Silver had a look at guild votes and other awards histories before calculating next weekend's Oscar odds for New York Magazine. The outcome: Five of the world's six presumed favorites in the top categories haven't changed since nomination day, with only Taraji P. Henson finding new, unexpected traction in the Supporting Actress "race" (thought clinched weeks ago by Penélope Cruz). Indeed, there is actually a spreadsheet somewhere indicating that the Benjamin Button co-star has a 51% chance of winning on Sunday:

Most of the major awards in the Supporting Actress category have been won by Kate Winslet for The Reader - a role the Academy misguidedly considers a lead. That's nice for Winslet, not so nice for our computer. Penélope Cruz, who won the BAFTA for her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, would seem the logical default. But computer sez: Benjamin Button's Taraji P. Henson! Button, which looks like a shutout everywhere else, is the only Best Picture nominee with a Supporting Actress nod, and Best Pic nominees tend to have an edge in the other categories.

Unless we're talking about the actors' categories, in which Mickey Rourke is still favored to defeat Milk's Sean Penn and Heath Ledger remains miles ahead of Josh Brolin. But Winslet's seasonal run will pay off in Actress, where Anne Hathaway, Angelina Jolie and Melissa Leo have literally zero chance of winning according to Silver.

And Slumdog is, well, Slumdog. But really: Who's wasting their time and computer resources on this when Miley Cyrus's Kids Choice Awards status hangs in the balance? Let's crunch some real numbers next time.