If you want to win an Oscar, you better hope you're playing a real person

Eddie Redmayne poses in the press room with the award for best actor in a leading role for "The Theory of Everything" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

A close look at recent Academy Awards history suggests the Oscar almost always goes to someone playing a real person. That's good news for Leonardo DiCaprio, at least.

A National Geographic study of the past 50 years found that the number of Academy Award nominations and winners in the two majority of acting awards have been trending toward biopics. Since 1966, wins for real-life characters have made up roughly a third of all Best Actor and Best Actress wins, but between 2003 and 2015 it's been more than half of them.

Biopics, of course, have always been popular with filmmakers, studios and audiences -- especially in the world of Oscar movies. In fact, in all of Academy history there have only two years -- 1976 and 1979 -- when all of the nominees for Best Actor and Best Actress had portrayed fictional characters. Audiences obviously weren't in the mood for a history lesson in the late '70s.

This year, four out of the five Best Actor nominees are being recognized for playing real people -- DiCaprio's work in "The Revenant" included. Even if he weren't already the favorite, he'd at least have a better shot than Matt Damon for "The Martian."