Best Picture Oscar nominees by year

How to Rank This Year’s Best Picture Oscar Nominees

INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC: The Wall Street Journal’s data team developed a scoring system to rank Academy Award nominees that gives weight to other award nominations, industry guild honors and Oscar nominations in other categories. 20th Century Fox

The Oscars nominations for this year are out, which means the complaining in Hollywood can officially begin. (Just kidding, the complaining in Hollywood never stops.) But since the nominations were expanded to allow for a larger best picture field in 2010, there has been less room for error in the top category. It’s harder to overlook a great movie when you have 8-10 nominations to spread around.

With this in mind, last year we developed a point system that accounts for all Oscar nominations and industry honors. The points are weighted by how well each nomination correlates with a best picture nomination. For instance, visual effects and makeup don’t correlate very well historically; cinematography and screenplay do. From here, we were able to determine which films would have been nominated from 1968-2009 if the expanded field had always existed. The formula also let us calculate the biggest snubs of all time: “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ” “Thelma and Louise” and “Almost Famous” topped the list.

So what does this Oscar math tell us about 2015′s best picture field? A few observations:

Here are the five movies that tallied the most points based on our system:

“The Revenant” – 32
“Spotlight” – 28
“The Big Short” – 26
“Mad Max: Fury Road” – 24
“The Martian” – 19

All five of these films were nominated for best picture, and this is what the field likely would have looked like had the Oscars used the old method of nominating five films. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s bear-mauling extravaganza, “The Revenant, ” earned the most points by scoring nominations in important categories (actor, director, etc.) and picking up numerous industry honors (Directors Guild nomination, Producers Guild nomination, etc.).

This is strong evidence to suggest that “The Revenant” will win best picture. In the past 10 Oscars, the movie that had the most points in our system went on to win the best picture award five times, including Inarritu’s “Birdman, ” which notched 33 points last year. “The Artist, ” “Hurt Locker, ” “The King’s Speech, ” and “No Country for Old Men” were the others. This is also bad news for fans of “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Martian, ” as only one movie this century won best picture with fewer than 25 points: “Crash” in 2005 with 24 points.

Here are the highest remaining point earners in this year’s Oscar field:

“Carol” – 19
“Bridge of Spies” – 14
“Room” – 12
“Sicario” – 10
“Brooklyn” – 9
“Straight Outta Compton” – 9

Of these six films, only “Bridge of Spies, ” “Room” and “Brooklyn” actually earned a best picture nomination, despite “Carol” having the sixth-highest number of points of the year. “Carol” secured numerous nominations elsewhere, including the ones that typically correlate to a best picture nod (best actress, adapted screenplay, a BAFTA nomination). “Sicario” and “Straight Outta Compton” both nearly made it with as many or more points as “Brooklyn, ” which seems to have claimed the last spot in the field.

One final note: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” received eight points, putting it in a tie for 12th place with “The Danish Girl, ” and not too far from a best picture nomination. That’s too bad. A nomination would have really given it a boost in the box office.

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