Contest Summary and Acceptance Speeches

Tom's 26th Annual Oscar Contest
February 22, 2009

First Place: Caroline Lock
First Place (tie): Computer Average
Second Place: Ezra Olson
Booby Prize: Leslie Mizell

Scores soared high in Tom's 26th Annual Oscar Contest. Almost everyone guessed that Slumdog Millionaire would win Best Picture, that Danny Boyle would win Best Director, that Heath Ledger would win Best Supporting Actor, that Kate Winslet would win Best Actress, and that Penelope Cruz would win Best Supporting Actress. The only major category in doubt was Best Actor. Some contestants picked Sean Penn, while others favored Mickey Rourke.

And that made the difference. Although Rebecca Willingham (a first-time contestant) led the pack for nearly the entire evening, her understandable but tragic selection of Mickey Rourke opened the door for Caroline Lock to win the First Place Prize. Caroline finished with 124 points -- the second-highest score in the 26-year history of Tom's Oscar Contest.

Caroline, an attorney, is married to Robert Lock, a North Carolina entrepreneur. In 2005, Caroline and Robert won Second Place with a joint ballot. This year is the first time she has won the contest. Her acceptance speech is below.

Caroline's high score was tied by a computer-generated contestant -- Computer Average, one of three contestants created by Tom's miraculous OscarCalc program. Indeed, OscarCalc correctly predicted the winners in 20 of 24 Oscar categories this year. It's the fifth time an OscarCalc computer-generated contestant has won or tied in First Place. The computer's acceptance speech is below.

The Second Place Prize went to Ezra Olson, a college student who also finished second last year. Ezra is the son of Julie Vosper, a friend of Kathy Yakal's. He ended with 121 points, the third-highest score in contest history.

The last-place Booby Prize went to Leslie Mizell, who scored a perfect zero. She narrowly beat George Campbell and David Hensley, who each scored one point. Remarkably, this is the 13th time in 26 years that Leslie has won or tied for the Booby Prize. (She has also won the contest three times and has finished in second place twice.) Leslie is a writer/editor in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her acceptance speech is below.

Acceptance Speeches

Caroline Lock, First Place Winner:

"I don't know where to start, as my win came as a total surprise. I haven't won a contest since Moot Court at Vanderbilt Law School in 1979, but that was not nearly as prestigious as winning Tom's Oscar Contest.

"Many thanks to the members of the Academy -- the Academy of former COMPUTE! stalwarts to whom I will be forever grateful. It took me 18 years, but finally, after marrying the Godfather in an attempt to gain entry into this elite coterie of writers and critics, I can finally say, 'You like me! You really, really like me!'

"It is truly a humbling experience to join the ranks of former winners such as Mr. Mansfield and Mr. Halfhill. And I want to acknowledge all of the other contestants, who are now trying to be so kind and gracious, especially given my second-highest point total in all recorded contest history.

"And finally, I want to thank the Godfather himself, my husband Robert, for his support, devotion, and faith that I could someday win -- and for the pair of red patent leather slippers he bought me to wear while completing my ballot. And thanks to you, Tom. It was great fun, and I'm looking forward to next year's contest."

Leslie Mizell, Booby Prize Winner:

"I'd like to thank God, who obviously loves me more than my competition, with a special shout-out to the great filmmakers of Japan who enabled me to regain my figurative bedazzled tiara after last year's one-point loss. It's not an easy task to look for the worst even among the best, but I manage to do it while remaining only as cynical as Jon Stewart and not venturing into Paddy Chayefsky territory.

"Finally, I'd like to thank my family and friends, my legal team and agents, my publicists and stylists, my water-bearers and boy toys, who never for a single second doubted that I was the biggest loser. I love you guys! This is for you!"

Computer Average, First Place (tie):

final private static void makeComputerAverage() {
// create Computer Average: mode average of human contestants...
int index = numBallots + 1; // temp index
contestant[index] = new OscarEntry(); // create new contestant
contestant[index].name = "Computer Average";
contestant[index].HTMLname = "oscar" + String.valueOf(index) + ".html";
contestant[index].prizeEligible = false; // can't win a prize
contestant[index].boobyEligible = false;
contestant[index].prize = "ineligible";
int vote = -1; // initialize to an impossibly low number
int voteArray[] = {0,0,0,0,0,0,0}; // tallies votes by humans
int categoryCount = 1; // keeps track of category number
for (int cat=1; cat<=numCats; cat++) {
  for (int x=1; x<=numBallots; x++) {
    voteArray[contestant[x].choices[cat]]++; // tally human choices
  for (int y=1; y<7; y++) {
    if (voteArray[y] >= vote) {
      vote = voteArray[y];
      contestant[index].choices[categoryCount] = y; // set choice
      predictions[categoryCount] = y; // set computer predictions
  vote = -1; // clear variable
  for (int z=1; z<7; z++)
    voteArray[z] = 0; // clear array
  numBallots++; // increment ballot total
} // end of method makeComputerAverage

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