She Knows How to Pick ’Em!
by Jeff Hall
By Brentwood News February 2013 | February 17, 2013
Jeff Vernon, Julie Civiello, Marcie Polier Swartz and Soozie Eastman have a method for picking Oscars that works exceedingly well (12 out of 13 last year!).
Brentwood’s Marcie Polier Has a Phenomenal Track Record When It Comes to Picking Oscar Winners
Q: Marcie, for those in Brentwood who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about your background.
A: I founded EDI - the company that pioneered overnight box office reporting to Hollywood and the world. I sold EDI to ACNielsen in 1997, then they sold to Rentrak. I kept the magazine we did to ‘handicap’ who will win the Academy Awards and have been having fun with it since we first published in 1988. My team is the same team I’ve been using for years, and we rock. Soozie Eastman, also a Brentwood resident, is a documentary filmmaker www.soozieeastman.com.
Julie Civiello, who runs The
Soozie Eastman and Marcie Polier Swartz photographed by Yolanda Pulakis
Audition Studio, www.audition-studio.com
in my building at 131 S. Barrington Pl. is an actress www.julieciviello.com.
We could not get anywhere without the great graphic skills of Jeff Vernon who has been working on our magazine since our launch in 1988 (originally through Scott Regberg and Assoc., another Brentwood resident of blessed memory) He also helped us launch our ‘Reel Awards’ for the movies that earned $100 million at the box office and designed the And The Winner Is…Magazines all through the years www.jeffvernon.com.
He is also an artist and a children’s book illustrator.
Q: You have a magazine and website now -- all about the Oscars, right? Tell us about that.
A: And The Winner Is…Magazine, www.winnerismagazine.com
is about “who will wi
Julie Civiello and Jeff Vernon photographed by Yolanda Pulakis
n the Oscars and why.” You can see back issues, check out our Oscar-inspired menus, recipes and party ideas as well as print the race pages and ballot for your home use. To learn more about what is going on with all my projects, visit Homemade Entertainment, www.homemadent.com
: my Auntie Marcie Cookbook and recipe blog which features fresh eggs from my chicken coop and fresh produce from my garden; my graphic and fine art, my philanthropy through Grantors Foundation and helpingyouhelp.org and my movie synopsis and ticket website FlixTix which I am doing with partner Nadia Redler, President of NKR Media and former producer and literary agent at William Morris...and Jeff Vernon.
Q: How’d you come up with the idea to do the Oscar Magazine?
A: In the 1980’s the press was still having a hard time coming up with anything substantial to say about the Academy Awards. My company EDI compiled all the stats for Hollywood, so we decided to crunch the numbers and were the very first to the gate with the actual dollars that Oscar brought to the box office and we did not stop there. We used the Hollywood Park Racing Form as our guide, came up with all our trends, and have adjusted them through the years. Basically, and on average, the winning Best Picture earns an additional $50 million dollars. So this is big business. Enough to demand accurate stats and insightful commentary.
Q: How’d you do last year with your picks?
A: In OUR BEST GUESS grid, we had 12 out of the 13 top categories. The only one we missed was Best Editing…we went for Hugo but Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the winner. I was a Hugo fan but the voters turned away from big splashy over the top efforts. Look at this year’s Les Mis (my personal fave) …the director who managed to innovate a tour de force was not even nominated. Hurts its chances to win the Best Picture Oscar, as the Best Picture winner has been linked to a Best Director nominee in 29 out of the 30 last years! The Academy’s voting rules can be a mystery to folks. Why are there only 9 Best Picture Nominees when the category was expanded to 10? The academy uses a weighted voting system, which moves things around a bit. Kind of like the Lunar Calendar…the same date moves from year to year. Rule 5 states:
“In the nominations voting, the marking and tabulation of all ballots shall be according to the preferential, weighted average, or re-weighted range voting system. Votes for achievements in motion pictures not on the Reminder List will not be counted in the nominations balloting. Tabulation of final ballots shall be according to the plurality or preferential system. No “write-in” votes shall be counted on the final ballot.”
Q: What are your top picks for the upcoming Oscars?
A: We like to ‘handicap’ or research the stats on the top 13 races. That is Best Picture, Actor, Actress, both Supporting categories, Director, Cinematographer, Editor, Original and Adapted Screenplay, Song, Animated and Foreign Film. The rest of the categories are usually anybody’s guess based on media coverage, how hard the PR machines are pushing their clients and how many voting members have actually seen the nominees. Don’t forget…The Academy voting members are members for life and are very aware of other people’s opinions. No further comments on that…
As for the predictions, our trends have served us surprisingly well all these years. They have been the most accurate. Why? Because we leave the opinionated and judgmental thoughts alone and ‘go for the facts, ma’am’…There is a little bit of a predictable science to it in addition to a subjective factor that we always try to connect with.
When looking at how we predict the Best Picture winner, you can plainly see why our method works.
Mix all the trends together with one subjective factor per film and you have your winner…¿ What does that mean?!
Les Mis: tour de force but is the material overworked? Zero Dark Thirty: pulls curtain back to reveal the truth but is it more than we should see?
Lincoln: The Academy loves to snub Spielberg who may have finally after all these years directed an actor to an Oscar! Beasts of the Southern Wild: taught us how lovable those abandoned strangers were! The Little Engine that Could, it kept on finding an audience. But does the Academy remember back to June? Django: Tarantino never disappoints, but is this the best of his best? Life Of Pi: Gorgeous. We must decide what story we believe and we believe it could win the Oscar.
Amour : Material is most timely to aging Academy. Silver Linings Playbook: The most lovable nominee. Mental illness needs a wider platform in our world now, but at 60 million gross vs. Argo’s 116 million… Argo: OUR PICK! Never underestimate the Academy’s love for George Clooney and team.
All our other picks can be viewed at http://www.winnerismagazine.com/oscarrace.pdf
Are you curious about who votes? The membership numbers move around each year, but there are approximately 5800 voting members and the biggest categories are Actors with approximately 1200 voters, Producers with approximately 465 members and Executives with approximately 440 members. Sound has approximately 410 members. Directors, Art Directors, Writers and Public Relations have approximately 380 each.
Q: What’s next for your website?
A: Like everyone else, lots of social networking and partnering. Movies, art, philanthropy, cooking/gardening and hiking and biking our incredible neighborhood pretty much do it for me. We have not done a big splashy Awards Watching party in a while and I would like to start doing that again, especially since we had such a success with the last one. We held it at the offices of Rubin Postaer, the Honda advertising agency.
We had the red carpet hooked up to the monitors in the foyer where the guests enjoyed cocktails while watching the sexy interviewers joke with the new arrivals. Then we had all the conference rooms themed with the food and décor from each Best Picture nominee. It was spectacular. We raised funds for Children’s Nature Institute, a hiking and nature program in poverty line public schools championed by dear friend and long time Brentwood Resident, Judy Burns Fishman.
Q: What’s your connection to Brentwood?
A: My connection to Brentwood started as a 20-something when I knew I wanted to live here. Miraculously, in 1987 when I was pregnant with Hillary, my second, I found a house in Brentwood, north of Sunset. It was orange, it had water damage from the thousand orchids that had been removed and it had never been redone. We managed to get it from the daughter of the original owner, Red Jacobs, who was the founder of Crown International Pictures.
They recognized our name – Polier - from the movie business over the other two buyers we were going up against. Then in 1999 when I needed to move my office out of the house, a friend found 131 S. Barrington Place. We rented it and fixed it up so the conference room was like a living room flanked by offices. We needed more space, and when I asked the owner, Jim Poyner, to kick out the tenant next door and let me fix it up, he said, “No, I want you to buy the building!” That’s how it happened.
It was great for 10 years, and now everyone is aware of the impact the construction is having on traffic on Barrington Place. We’ve been suffering since 2008 and look forward to the end of construction, new tenants and a new façade.
Then I met Dave and we moved to our gorgeous hilltop slice of heaven. I put my massive garden in with chickens, a berry patch, fruit trees and vegetables and started canning. Belwood Bakery wants to sell my jams as soon as I can get the city to certify me! The bill allowing home cooks to sell their goods has passed but the city is behind the curve on the certification classes. That would be another great article for you...all the Brentwood home gardeners and canners.
In the meantime we plan to keep seeing movies, eating popcorn, and helping people with their Academy picks!
Comments to date: 1. Page 1 of 1. Average Rating:
San Francisco, CA
12:51am on Monday, February 18th, 2013
Reweighted Score Voting (aka Reweighted Range Voting) is a particularly brilliant voting system, invented a few years ago by a Princeton math PhD named Warren D. Smith.
Smith is arguably the world's foremost authority on election theory. In 2000, he ran a series of computer simulations which measured the efficacy of several voting systems. Score Voting outperformed all the other options.
The "reweighting" is so that, in multi-winner elections, the results will reflect the diversity of the approximately 6000 Oscar judges. The formula is actually pretty simple (certainly simpler than the STV system being used to pick most of the nominees aside from Best Visual Effects). We just divide each ballot by the amount of support that has been given to previous winners. In this way, judges who didn't have their say in an earlier round have more effect in subsequent rounds.
E.g. let's say you score A=5, B=4, C=0. (Perhaps A and B are two movies in the Die Hard vein, whereas C is an artsy piece like Black Swan.) Let's say that A wins. Now, this judges ballot will be divided by 1 + (5/5) which reduces down to 2. Thus in the next round, your ballot will be B=2, C=0. Thus C will be more likely to win in the next round—even if a majority favored A and B and gave them high ratings.
But unlike the Single Transferable Vote, Reweighted Score Voting *starts* by picking a broadly appealing "centrist" option, and moves to the factional periphery in a gradual manner.
The Center for Election Science