Listed below are the names of past Oscar Pool champions. The winner’s name links to the contemporaneous blog post announcing that person’s win. The year links to the detailed account, below, of each pool.
The first annual BrendanLoy.com Oscar Pool was announced in a blog post on February 13, 2005. An initial plan to make it a true “pool,” costing $5 per entry, was eventually dropped. The assigned point values were 15 for Best Picture, 9 apiece for the directing and lead acting categories, 6 for the supporting acting categories, 4 for the screenplay categories, 2 for original score & song, and 1 per award for everything else. This has remained the pool scoring system ever since.
27 contestants entered the pool. On Oscar Night, I posted blog updates after each award. I was perfect through 5 awards, but Vicki Lopez took over the lead when Cate Blanchett won Best Supporting Actress. She later built her lead to a “commanding” 5 points. She maintained a lead of between 3 and 7 points — with initially Evan Sparks and I, then later Chris Aemisegger and Jen Persaud, battling for second — right up to the second-to-last award, Best Director.
Heading into Best Director, Lopez was 6 points ahead of Persaud, and Jackie Domaingue was barely on the radar screen, 15 points back. But with the final two awards worth a lot of points, she had a chance. As I explained: “Everyone in the Top 7, except Jen Persaud, picked Martin Scorcese to win Best Director. Jen picked Taylor Hackford. Jackie Domaingue is the highest-ranked contestant who picked Clint Eastwood, so she’ll gain ground if he wins — but only as far as second place. She’d still be five points behind Vicki, and then it would come down to Million Dollar Baby (which Jackie picked) vs. The Aviator (which Vicki picked).”
The rest is history. Eastwood upset Scorcese for Best Director, allowing Domaingue to move into second place, 3 points behind Lopez. So the pool went down to the wire, with Lopez needing a Best Picture win by The Aviator, and Domaingue needing Million Dollar Baby to prevail.
In what would become a theme, Lopez was edged out at the finish line, thanks to Baby’s win, as Domaingue won the pool. (And I eventually even figured out who she was!) Complete final standings are here.
The 2006 Oscar pool had a whopping 89 contestants. Becky and I were on the road during the Oscars, driving back from the Arch Madness (i.e., the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament) in St. Louis, but I updated the standings after each award via my cell-phone-connected laptop, and posted occasional blog updates to a single liveblog post throughout the ceremony.
Derek Walden jumped out to an early lead, getting the first six awards right. But he eventually fell off the pace, and when Rachel Weisz won a surprise Best Supporting Actress nod, Chris McLemore and Carolyn Basset moved into a two-way tie for first place. McLemore took sole possession of the lead when March of the Penguins won Best Documentary Feature. He maintained that lead to the end, but again, there was drama at the finish, and again, it involved Vicki Lopez coming up just short:
UPDATE, 11:15 PM: Two Oscars left, and Chris McLemore still leads with 48 out of a possible 56 points.
UPDATE, 11:18 PM: But Vicki Lopez, just two points back in second place, picked favorite “Brokeback Mountain” to win both Best Picture and Best Director, whereas Chris only picked it to win Best Director. (Chris picked “Crash” to win Best Picture.) If “Brokeback” wins in both categories, Vicki will win the pool.
Of course, as it turned out, McLemore was exactly right: Ang Lee won Best Director for Brokeback Mountain, as expected, but then Crash stunned Brokeback for Best Picture, so McLemore won the pool. Crash’s win denied Lopez (as well as Basset and Josh Britton, who picked longshots “Capote” and “Munich,” respectively) the Oscar Pool championship.
McLemore’s point total, 72 out of a possible 80, easily surpassed Domaingue’s winning tally of 56 out of 80 under the same scoring system the previous year. Complete final standings here.
Nobody was perfect beyond the first two awards, but Kevin Curran (kcatnd) jumped out to the early lead when Alan Arkin won Best Supporting Actor for Little Miss Sunshine. Kristin West tied him when Marie Antoinette won Best Costume Design, then took sole possession of the lead when Jennifer Hudson won Best Supporting Actress for Dreamgirls. The pool at that point became a three-way race between Kristin West, Wobbly H and myself.
Eventually, with six awards to go, I took a two-point lead over Kristin (and Wobbly fell off the pace) when Little Miss Sunshine won Best Original Screenplay. I maintained that lead right up to the end, and heading into Best Picture, these were the scenarios:
• If either Babel or The Queen win Best Picture, I (Brendan Loy) win the contest.
• If The Departed wins, Kristin West wins.
• If Letters from Iwo Jima wins, Brandon Minich wins.
• If Little Miss Sunshine wins, Rachel L. wins.
47 contestants entered the 2008 pool. Again, live coverage was consolidated in a single blog post. Kristen Wall took the early lead, getting the first 4 awards right, but then was surpassed by Barbara Cross when Javier Bardem won Best Supporting Actor for No Country for Old Men. After some multi-way ties, Kevin Curran emerged briefly as the leader courtesy of Tilda Swinton’s nod for Best Supporting Actress in Michael Clayton.
Curran was promptly overtaken — on the very next award, when No Country for Old Men won Best Adapted Screenplay — by defending champ Kristin West and, tied for second place, Lisa Velte and myself. Lisa then proceeded to tie Kristin for first when The Bourne Ultimatum won Best Sound Editing, and took sole possession of the lead, by a whopping 3 points, when Marion Cotillard won Best Actress for La Vie en Rose.
Velte expanded her lead to 4 points, then 5, and never surrendered it, clinching victory when the Coen brothers won Best Director for No Country for Old Men. She ended up with 72 points out of a possible 80, tying McLemore’s mark for the best score in Oscar Pool history. Complete final standings here.
I was “between blogs” when the 2009 Oscars rolled around, having shut down the Irish Trojan’s Blog in June 2008 and ended my brief experiment with a blog called Ash Blog Durbatulûk in November 2008. But I still did an Oscar Pool, advertising it via Facebook and FriendFeed, and 61 people entered. On Oscar Night, I hosted a live blog and live chat. (The chat archive has, alas, vanished, but the live blog is still there.)
Blake Hanson took the early lead with perfect predictions through 8 awards, a record. When he finally got one wrong (Best Live Action Short), Alec Taylor tied him for first place, but Hanson took back sole possession of the lead a few awards later, when The Dark Knight won Best Sound Editing. Taylor remained 1 point back.
With 7 awards left, I noted: “The only difference between Blake’s and Alec’s picks the rest of the way is that Alec picked the Benjamin Button director, while Blake picked the Slumdog guy.” Ultimately, the “Slumdog guy” won, eliminating Taylor.
I didn’t even mention Vlada Shelkova in the liveblog until 11:08 PM Eastern Time, when Departures won Best Foreign Language Film in an upset. I then noted, with 4 awards to go: “That was big for Vlada Shelkova. She can now win if Sean Penn wins Best Actor.”
At 11:25 EDT, with just Best Actor, Actress and Picture to go, and Blake Hanson still in the lead, I wrote: “Hanson picked Rourke, Winslet, Slumdog. Vlada Shelkova wins if Sean Penn wins, unless Meryl Streep also wins, in which case Rachel Wetherill wins. Meghan Brown wins if Meryl Streep & Benjamin Button win. I think. I may not have accounted for some combinations of upsets.”
After Kate Winslet’s Best Actress victory, I updated the scenarios thusly: “Vlada Shelkova wins if Sean Penn wins. Otherwise, Blake Hanson wins. Simple as that. No possible Best Picture suspense this year.” Of course, Penn did indeed win Best Actor, so Vlada Shelkova, a member of the NHS Class of 2008 whom I’ve never met, won the pool. Her victory broke a streak of three consecutive wins by Notre Dame Law School students (McLemore, Velte and West). Complete final standings here.