Contest Summary and Acceptance Speeches

Tom's 28th Annual Oscar Contest
February 27, 2011

First Place: David English
Second Place: Computer Average (ineligible)
Second Place Prize: Constance Sweeney
Booby Prize: Amy Johnson

Contest Summary

Oscar Night 2011 had few surprises. The King's Speech won most of the major awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Original Screenplay. It was the smaller awards that determined the outcome of Tom's Oscar Contest. Constance Sweeney led the field for most of the evening, only to be passed by David English and a computer-generated contestant near the end.

When the golden dust settled, David finished first with 120 points, followed by the "Computer Average" virtual contestant with 115 points. ("Computer Average," created by Tom's OscarCalc program, represents the mode average of the human choices.) But the computer is ineligible to win, so the Second Place Prize went to Constance, who finished with the third-highest score of 112 points. Amy Johnson won the last-place Booby Prize with a perfect score of zero points, edging out four other contestants who each scored one point.

David English is a writer, film buff, and former editor at Compute! magazine. He finished in second place last year and in 2002. Visit his websites, Filmzoid and Classic Film Preview.

Constance Sweeney is an area sales manager for NewScale, an enterprise-software company in Silicon Valley. Constance is a frequent contestant, and this is the first time she has won a prize in Tom's Oscar Contest.

Amy Johnson, a freelance writer in Seattle, won the Booby Prize in 2007 and 2008 and finished second in 2001. Amy has also appeared on TV's Jeopardy.

Acceptance Speeches

David English, First Place Prize:

"Surprised I won? Just a coincidence? I don't think so. Think about it. For years, I struggled in the background, hardly ever winning any of the prizes. Then last year, I won second place. And this year, I won first place. See the pattern?

"Yes, it's true. I've finally figured out how to beat the system. And now you can, too, by purchasing my patented and trademarked algorithm. It's a special blend of tea leaves, fortune cookies, and day-old horoscopes. As a special bonus, you'll also receive nine tana leaves from the estate of Hollywood legend Maria Ouspenskaya. Just call 1-800-555-1212. Major credit cards accepted. So you don't forget, order before 12 midnight!"

Constance Sweeney, Second Place Prize:

"Hey, not bad for a blonde! If I hadn't let my roots grow out, maybe I would have won first place. Oh, f---! What did I just say?"

Amy Johnson, Booby Prize:

"To have been part of a contest that touched so many lives this year is an honor. Thank you, Tom. This is a girlhood ambition come true tonight."

Computer Average, Second Place (ineligible to win):

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[] = {0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0}; // 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<11; 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<11; z++)
      voteArray[z] = 0; // clear array
    numBallots++; // increment ballot total
  } // end of method makeComputerAverage

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