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Best Supporting Actor JK Simmons (Whiplash); Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette (Boyhood); Best Actress Julianne Moore (Still Alice); and Best Actor Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) were among the winners correctly predicted by a Microsoft economist’s model. (Photo via ABC/Rick Rowell)

It was a big night for Hollywood, and also for Microsoft.

David Rothschild
David Rothschild

A prediction model developed by David Rothschild, an economist in Microsoft Research’s New York City lab, correctly pegged 20 out of 24 of the Academy Award winners last night — including Best Picture (Birdman), Director (Alexandro Inarritu), Actor (Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything), Actress (Julianne Moore, Still Alice), Supporting Actor (JK Simmons, Whiplash), Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette, Boyhood) and many more.

In a Microsoft article prior to the event, Rosthchild outlined the challenges of predicting the Oscars, given the complicated voting process overseen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He explained that his model relies in part on prediction markets, which “follow a select group of people who have high levels of information on what voters will do and are willing to wager real-money on the outcomes.”

Last night’s result was, at times, an example of data prevailing over intuition, as Rothschild noted on Twitter.

This year’s result wasn’t a fluke. Last year, the model correctly predicted 21 of 24 Oscar winners. In 2013, it got 19 of 24 winners right.

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