On Sunday, the New York Times’s A.O. Scott issued the paper of record’s annual Oscar prediction: “Those who practice pre-Oscar shamanism, studying the awards strewn across the landscape like the entrails of slaughtered sheep, have noted that no obvious frontrunner for best picture has emerged, nor even a plausible two-way race. Where is this year’s Beautiful Mind, its American Beauty or its Shakespeare versus Private Ryan showdown? Nowhere in sight.”
Problem is, the Times always makes the same prediction—even in years when “frontrunners” like A Beautiful Mind and American Beauty are competing for the awards.
Previewing the 2002 Oscars, the Times reported that there was nothing “clear and inevitable” about that year’s race, except that “some movie” will win Best Picture.
For the 2001 version: “[T]his is widely regarded as one of the strangest and most unsettled Oscar races in years.”
For 2000: “It’s often easy to look at the accumulation of year-end critics’ awards to get some idea of what is likely to dominate when the Academy Awards are handed out. But this year, that’s almost impossible.”