Because "The Artist" beat "The Descendants" (left) for Best Picture at the Oscars.
A strange pattern has emerged over the past 50 years, and it seems an incumbent president's hopes for re-election are tied to which films win big at the two major Hollywood award shows, says OutFront producer Christopher Moloney.
Specifically, if a film is named Best Picture (Drama) at the Golden Globes and Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the Republican candidate is elected.
If not, the Democrat wins.
The theory applies to the year the films are awarded, not the year they are released–this year's awards went to films released last year–and if it holds, "The Descendants' " inability to repeat its Golden Globes triumph at this year's Oscars means Obama will win.
In 2004, George W. Bush, a Republican, was re-elected when "The Lord of The
Rings: The Return of the King" won both the Golden Globe and the Oscar.
In 1996, Bill Clinton, a Democrat, won a second term when "Sense & Sensibility" and "Braveheart" split the trophies.
"Bugsy" won the Golden Globe and "Silence of the Lambs" took the Oscar in 1992, and George H. W. Bush lost to Clinton.
Ronald Reagan won his second term in 1984, when "Terms of Endearment" won both statues, and four years before that, he beat Jimmy Carter during the "Kramer vs. Kramer" sweep.
In 1972, Richard Nixon was re-elected on the strength of "The French Connection," a film about a police officer who stumbles on a French connection, only to resign two years later when a security guard stumbles on a Cuban connection.
And less than a year after assuming office for John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson was re-elected when the Golden Globe and the Oscar went to two different films: one about a young Catholic priest from Boston confronting bigotry ("The Cardinal"), the other about a ladies' man ("Tom Jones").
There are exceptions to the rule, of course.
In 1976, when "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" won both awards, things went crazy, and Gerald Ford failed to win.
But as Ford was never actually elected as president or vice president in the first place, there is an argument to be made he was never a true incumbent.
The only other time the election went off-script was in 1956, the first year the Golden Globes were held with a president seeking a second term.
That year, "East of Eden" won the Golden Globe but not the Oscar, which went to "Marty," and Adlai Stevenson, a Democrat, lost to incumbent Dwight D.
The loss must have been particularly tough for John Steinbeck, the "East of Eden" author, who had actually sent a 19-page handwritten letter to the Democratic Digest, advising them on how to prevent Eisenhower from winning a second term.
In the letter, Steinbeck wrote: "It is generally considered that novelists are not good politicians. As candidates I should (think) this would be true but as designers of political method the reverse is probably true."
Or maybe he should have just asked a screenwriter.