Since it has the most nominees of any category, best picture can be the hardest to predict. Thankfully, it is also the most scrutinised.
To help narrow down the best picture field, take a look at the five best director nominees. It is rare for a movie to win best picture without its director nominated, too, so you’d cut the field in half.
Best picture ballots are cast with a ranking system, so think about what films are thought to be “really good” by everyone—most voter’s #2 or #3 pick—rather than a polarising film that may have turned off some members of the academy.
These are some of the only categories where the same film can be nominated multiple times. Remember that if this happens, it doesn’t mean that the film is such a front runner—sure, the voters liked it enough to nominate two actors in the supporting category, but that can often split the vote. Two actors from the same film in the same category almost certainly spells victory for someone else.
Actors are the largest arm of the academy, and they take acting seriously. But very often, the winner is someone who deserve a lifetime achievement award rather than the person who delivered the best performance. So keep in mind how often someone has been nominated before, and how long they have been in the industry.
These are often a crapshoot on your Oscar ballot, and they are for many voters, too. Take a look at the plot summary of each of the shorts, and see what is the most topical or heart-wrenching. That’s what the Academy voted for, too.
People often get tripped up on the difference between “sound mixing” and “sound editing.” Sound editing refers to the sound effects, and sound mixing refers to everything you hear. They very often are won by the same film, but editing tends to favour war and sci-fi movies, while mixing goes to musicals or rock biopics.
Now go forth and enjoy the show!