US statistician Nate Silver tips 'Argo' and 'Lincoln' to win

Nate Silver, the respected American statistician and founder of the website, 'FiveThirtyEight.com,' has published his list of the likely winners in the six main categories of Sunday's Oscars.

Silver's findings largely support the current bookies' odds. He tips 'Argo' to win the best picture prize and Daniel Day-Lewis to be named best actor for his role in 'Lincoln'.

Daniel Day Lewis (Credit: Wenn)
He goes on to suggest that 'Silver Linings Playbook' actress Jennifer Lawrence has the slight edge over Jessica Chastain in the best actress race. Silver has Anne Hathaway winning the best supporting actress Oscar for 'Les Miserables', while he tips 'Lincoln''s Tommy Lee Jones to inch ahead of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christoph Waltz to win the the best supporting actor prize.

The statistician identifies the best director category as the site of this year's closest battles. He tips Steven Spielberg to win by the most slender of margins over 'Life of Pi' director Ang Lee.

Writing in the 'New York Times', Silver explains his formula. "Our forecasts are based on which candidates have won other awards in their category." he says. 'We give more weight to awards that have frequently corresponded with the Oscar winners in the past, and which are voted on by people who will also vote for the Oscars. We don't consider any statistical factors beyond that, and we doubt that doing so would provide all that much insight.'

Silver first caught the public's attention when he correctly predicted the outcome of 49 of the 50 states in the 2008 presidential election. In last year's contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney he went one better, producing a clean sweep of electoral college forecasts. However, he adds that his previous attempts to predict the Oscars - in 2009 and 2011 - was only 75% successful. His new, improved methodology, he admits, ''won't be foolproof''.