The Best Actor category of this year’s Academy Awards is full of impressive contenders. On Sunday night, Oscar alumni like Denzel Washington (for Roman J. Israel, Esq.) and Daniel Day-Lewis (for Phantom Thread) will battle it out with impressive, nuanced performances from newcomers like Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out and Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name. But it’s Gary Oldman’s immersive portrayal of Winston Churchill in the war-time biopic Darkest Hour that’s garnered the most buzz ahead of the show. Nearly unrecognizable as Great Britain’s hefty Prime Minister, Darkest Hour follows Churchill as the newly-minted PM must decide on whether to negotiate with Adolf Hitler or rally the nation and continue a difficult fight.
Will Oldman stand triumphant? Unanimous A.I., a San Francisco-based technology firm that uses “swarm intelligence” to make scarily accurate predictions, is almost sure of it. The A.I. deemed Oldman’s likelihood of winning to be 80 percent.
To predict the winner for Best Actor and make other 2018 Oscar winner predictions, Unanimous A.I. used what’s known as swarm intelligence to forecast the likely winners, using a pool of around 40 die-hard movie fans. Each member of the swarm worked together as a hive mind to decide on the probability of a winner, based on what they perceived the academy was likely to choose. Based on the collective intelligence of the group, manifested through the A.I. algorithm, the predictions tend to merit eerily accurate results. As you can see in the animation below, each participant controlled a little golden magnet and used it to drag the puck toward the answer they thought was the most likely outcome. As users see the puck move toward a particular outcome, it triggers a psychological response. They readjust their decision-making, building toward a consensus.
In 2017, Unanimous A.I. got five of the Big 6 Oscar categories correct (Best Actor, Actress, Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress). It missed the mark on Best Picture, as its swarm of movie experts incorrectly guessed that La La Land would win. Moonlight was the actual Oscar winner for Best Picture in 2017.
Unanimous A.I. has also predicted winners for the other categories at the upcoming Oscars ceremony. The swarm is betting that Frances McDormand will win Best Actress, while The Shape of Water will take home Best Picture, and Guillermo del Toro is pegged to receive Best Director.
Here’s how to stream the Academy Awards on Sunday night at 8 p.m. Eastern time.