Bet your Shirt on The Big Short

Early Results

We’re still tweaking the machine learning system and the best actor and actress categories. But our text/linguistic culture-matching model produced the following rank ordering for the best picture category:


So if you don’t know, now you know…The Big Short wins it.

Incidentally, we also scored movies that had best actor/actress nominees (since they were in our corpus). Big Short still won, but some of those movies (such as Trumbo) scored very well. You can read that anyway you like – it might indicate that the best actor and actress nominations are heavily influenced by how much voters liked the type of movie (which is certainly plausible) or it might indicate that our model is a pretty bad predictor since those movies didn’t even garner nominations. And, of course, given our sample size, it probably means nothing at all.

I think the list makes intuitive sense – which is always something of a relief when you’ve gone the long way around with a methodology. I particularly think the bottom of the list makes sense with The Martian and Mad Max. Both movies feel well outside any current Hollywood zeitgeist (except maybe the largely silent super-model refugees in MMFR). If a system can pick the losers, perhaps it can pick the winners as well. But more important to me, it suggests that our method is doing a credible job of culture matching.

With a few more weeks, we’ll probably take a closer look at some of the classifications and see if there are any biasing words/themes that are distorting the results. This stuff is hard and all too easy to get wrong – especially in your spare time. We’ll also have results from the black-box machine learning system, though we’re not confident about it, as well as what I hope will be interesting results for the actor/actress category. We’ve never believed that the method is as applicable to that problem (predicting acting awards) but we’re fairly satisfied with the initial themes that emerged from each actor/actress so we’re a little more optimistic that we’ll have an interesting solution.

Stay tuned…