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« Blueprints: "GLOW" | Main | Months of Meryl: Prime (2005) »
Thursday
Aug092018

Oscar Myth-Busting: The Academy Doesn't Like Popular Films

by Nathaniel R

The 10 biggest hits of all time when adjusted for inflation. All but one of them was nominated for Best Picture and three of them won.

We hear it every year: "The Oscars only nominate films that no one has heard of!" Every year this untruth is spread by people who a) don't pay attention to movies and are thus not the target audience of the Oscars anyway and b) don't think things through before proclaiming them and c) haven't worked out that in our increasingly niche world MANY people haven't heard of tv shows, albums, movies, or plays that are of utmost importance to a whole other group of people.

Somehow this myth of "obscure taste" has sunk deep into the Academy's own mindset and they've bought in to it. This week's catastrophic announcement suggests that they've bought into this myth that they don't like popular things to the point of self-loathing. So, here's a quick bit of factual history to bust this myth once again. Our work is never done!

Box office history is harder to suss out prior to 1980 when box office reporting became a more regular occurrence. But most historical indications suggest that the nominees for Best Picture before then were often sizeable hits. Part of the divide that's happened in the past 38 years, which people are never honest about when they complain about Oscar's "relevancy," is that audiences became progressively less interested in human drama (Oscar's bread and butter from 1928 onward), which they mostly sought out on TV, and more interested in visual effects spectacle, cartoons, and mega-sequels. The former is an Oscar interest, the second one has its own category so they mostly ignore it, and the third is not an Oscar interest for which we are grateful because if you want the same things to win prizes every year, look to the Emmys!

So is there any kind of truth to the notion that Oscar doesn't like popular films and only embraces obscure ones? Let's look at the evidence from 1980 onwards...

BEST PICTURE FIELDS AND WHERE THE FILMS RANKED IN POPULARITY FOR THEIR YEARS
For the purposes of this analysis we will interpret "popularity" as box office grosses though though the two things are not necessarily equivocal. Most people will buy tickets to sequels to films they loved the first time repeatedly, even if they like the sequels less and less. Most people who see "obscure" movies (i.e. ones without gigantic p&a budgets) based on Oscar nominations generally like them. This is especially true of Best Picture nominees and winners that audiences only come around to later like Shawshank Redemption, Spotlight, and many many other examples.

I pulled the year ranking from boxoffice mojo. The number in parenthesis is how many movies were released that year according to them.

Coal Miner's Daughter was a huge hit in 1980.

1980 (116)
Coal Miner's Daughter #7
Ordinary People #11
The Elephant Man #25
Raging Bull #27
Tess #33

Verdict: two big hits, two minor hits, and one 'small' film that greatly benefited from the Oscar boost (Tess)

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? 9 to 5 #2 would have been a fun nominee but Oscar rarely if ever goes for "silly" comedies. And at the time people didn't think Empire Strikes Back #1 was the best Star Wars film, plus it was a sequel. The only clear miss among blockbusters was Private Benjamin #6 since Oscar voters did like that film. Just not enough for Best Picture, apparently. And shouldn't they be able to choose which of the blockbusters is most worthy rather than having all blockbusters thrust upon them?

1981  (113)

Raiders of the Lost Ark #1
On Golden Pond #2
Chariots of Fire #7
Reds #13
Atlantic City #55

Verdict: two blockbusters, two big hits, and one 'smaller' film that wasn't a big deal outside of critical acclaim.

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? They already went with big hits.

1982  (132)
E.T. #1
Tootsie #2
The Verdict #11
Gandhi #12
Missing #56

Verdict: two blockbusters, two big hits (that were undoubtedly helped to major hit status by the Oscars since they opened late) and one small film that wasn't a big deal outside of critical acclaim.

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? They already chose the best ones... 

1983  (163)
Terms of Endearment #2
The Big Chill #13
The Right Stuff #33
Tender Mercies #78
The Dresser #100

Verdict: one blockbuster, one big hit, one minor hit, and two small films that weren't all that popular outside of critical acclaim. 

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Nope. They already went with the acceptable choices.

Younger audiences have a hard time grasping how popular something like Amadeus was in 1984. It was basically as big a hit then as, say, Hidden Figures recently was. In other words a huge crowd pleaser.

1984 (168)
Amadeus #12
Places in the Heart #24
The Killing Fields #25
A Passage to India #34
A Soldier's Story #47

Verdict: one big hit and three regular sized hits (all helped along by Oscar buzz) and one small hit boosted by prestige factors (successful play + oscar buzz).

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? 1984 had several enduring pop culture blockbusters like Splash #10, Romancing the Stone #8, The Karate Kid #8, Ghostbusters #1, Footloose #7, etcetera but think about it. Did they really need best picture nominations? Okay, maybe Romancing the Stone but light adventure is not really in the Academy's wheelhouse.

 

1985 (180)
The Color Purple #4
Out of Africa #5
Witness #8
Prizzi's Honor #32
Kiss of the Spider-Woman #53

Verdict: three blockbusters (two of them helped along by Oscar buzz since they opened late), one hit, and one small indie considerably elevated by Oscar buzz and critical acclaim.

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? They already had 60% blockbusters so stop bitching about Back to the Future #1 missing.

1986 (209)

Platoon #3
Hannah and Her Sisters #30
Children of a Lesser God #32
A Room with a View #44
The Mission #52

Verdict: one blockbuster (helped along by Oscar buzz), three hits, and one ambitious but not super popular film boosted by critical acclaim and Oscar buzz. 

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Aliens #7 (which won two Oscars) definitely belonged on the list but it was a sequel and Oscar has issues with those.

1987 (238)

Fatal Attraction #2
Moonstruck #5
Broadcast News #18
The Last Emperor #25
Hope and Glory #88

Verdict: two blockbusters, two big hits (one of them helped considerably by oscar attention) and one arthouse sleeper helped by acclaim and surprise Oscar favor.

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? They already chose the best blockbusters from that year? What else you want from them!?? You're never satisfied.

The #1 movie of the year used to win Best Picture more often than it does now. That much is true. But then sequels didn't used to so thoroughly dominate the box office.

1988 (254)
Rain Man #1
Working Girl #11
Dangerous Liaisons #32
Mississippi Burning #33
The Accidental Tourist #35

Verdict: two blockbusters, and three hits (all of which were helped by their Oscar boost)

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? We're still annoyed that they didn't include Who Framed Roger Rabbit? #2 but one senses that they almost included A Fish Called Wanda #12

1989 (240)
Driving Miss Daisy #8
Dead Poet's Society #10
Born on the 4th of July #17
Field of Dreams #19
My Left Foot #68

Verdict: two blockbusters (one helped by Oscar buzz), two hits (one helped by Oscar buzz), and one small film not all that popular outside of critical acclaim.

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? When Harry Met Sally #11 and The Little Mermaid #13 would have looked fine in a Best Pic lineup but Oscar hasn't like romantic comedies since the 1930s and they didn't come around to animated features until the 1990s when the whole world did. 

1990 (225)
Ghost #2
Dances with Wolves #3
The Godfather Part Three #17
Awakenings #23
Goodfellas #26

Verdict: two blockbusters and three hits (only one of which, Awakenings, was considerably helped along by Oscar attention).

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Sure Dick Tracy#9 (which won 3 Oscars) and arguably even the very zeitgeisty Pretty Woman #4. But they did choose the 2nd and 3rd highest grossing of the year. And no, Home Alone #1 didn't need to be a Best Picture nominee. 

 

Would more animated pictures have been nominated in the past 17 years if they hadn't added an Animated Feature category? We think so, yes.

1991 (245)
Beauty and the Beast #3
The Silence of the Lambs #4
The Prince of Tides #16
JFK #17
Bugsy #25

Verdict: two blockbusters, three hits (all three used Oscar attention to get there as they were late December releases)

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Yes, Terminator 2: Judgment Day but it walked away with 4 Oscars which is a good tribute for its technical perfection. But the 1991 list is full of hits so the question is kind of moot.

1992 (235)
A Few Good Men #5
Unforgiven #11
Scent of a Woman #19
The Crying Game #20
Howards End #48

Verdict: two blockbusters, two hits (one of which directly became a sensation due to its Oscar buzz), and one mildly popular arthouse prestige pic which just happened to be a total masterpiece.

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Yes, A League of Their Own. But a lot of people had trouble respecting that one. I think it was the lightness of tone and the girliness of it. But WE love it. The big miss this year is obviously The Last of the Mohicans #17 which was oddly a big hit and Oscar friendly and yet Oscar didn't bite. What was that about? 

1993 (259)
The Fugitive #3
Schindler's List #9
The Piano #38
In the Name of the Father #61
Remains of the Day #66

Verdict: one blockbuster, one big hit, one regular sized hit, and two minor hits (all but the blockbuster propelled partially by Oscar buzz)

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Yes: Jurassic Park. But perhaps Schindler's List sucked up all the Spielberg worship? Otherwise this list is a strong one, quality wise. And isn't that what matters. Do you really need Philadephia #12 in there just cuz it was a hit. Not all Oscar bait is equal.

1994 (258)
Forrest Gump #1
Pulp Fiction #10
Four Weddings and a Funeral #21
Shawshank Redemption #51
Quiz Show #56

Verdict: one blockbuster, one big hit, one regular sized hit, and two minor hits... all were hits without Oscar attention; this was a rare no December releases nominated for Best Picture year.

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? One could argue that if they didn't have a bias against action movies, Speed #8 would have looked good in the history books as a Best Pic nominee. Some might say The Lion King #2, too, but it walked away with 2 Oscars. It's fine.

 

Tom Hanks sure sold a lot of movie tickets in the 1990s

1995 (280)
Apollo 13 #3
Braveheart #18
Babe #28
Sense & Sensibility #39
Il Postino #77

Verdict: one blockbuster, two hits, one arthouse hit with considerable prestige factor, and one foreign film greatly boosted by oscar attention

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Just one: Se7en #9. But at the time people hadn't caught on to Fincher's worth quite yet and it wasn't as big a hit as Silence of the Lambs and came out during the glut of serial killer films in the mid 1990s.

1996 (311)
Jerry Maguire #4
The English Patient #19
Shine #41
Fargo #67
Secrets & Lies #108

Verdict: one blockbuster, one big hit, two minor hits, and one critical darling which didn't really crossover to mainstream love. This happens to be the year when people first started grumbling en masse about Oscar taste diverging from mainstream taste but it's worth noting that The English Patient was hugely popular with the public even though it was thought of as an "Oscar" movie, first and foremost. In large part the shift to arthouse fare happened with the rise of Miramax and Harvey Weinstein's campaigning power BUT it wasn't like Oscar was ignoring popular films!

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? No. Listen there was a reason this was dubbed "the year of the indie" the mainstream stuff, Jerry Maguire excepted, was pretty bad. I mean did you really want Independence Day #1 or Twister #2 or The Rock #7 as Best Picture nominees? Anything more popular than The English Patient that year (other than Maguire) would have looked embarrassing that year.

1997 (303)
Titanic #1 
As Good As It Gets #6
Good Will Hunting #7
LA Confidential #24
The Full Monty #45

Verdict: three blockbusters (all three of which were released in december so they used their Oscar buzz as part of their cultural force), one hit, and one feelgood arthouse sleeper that crossed over a bit with the public.

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? If the Academy still liked romantic comedies (they only really liked them in the 1930s, admittedly the genre's highwater mark) they could have done a lot worse than nominating My Best Friend's Wedding #9. But all the Best Picture nominees that year were popular with the public so why grouse?

1998 (336)
Saving Private Ryan #1
Shakepeare in Love #18
Life is Beautiful #35
The Thin Red Line #59
Elizabeth #65

Verdict: one blockbuster, one big hit (propelled largely by its Oscar campaign), one foreign film that crossed over into a substantial hit, and two lush but artier efforts helped by critical acclaim to solid grosses.

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? They did embarrass themselves by not including The Truman Show #12, but that wasn't really a blockbuster. Just a big hit. 

The Sixth Sense is one of the most successful horror films of all time, and one of the few ever nominated for Best Picture.

1999 (385)
The Sixth Sense #2
The Green Mile #12
American Beauty #13
Cider House Rules #41
The Insider #69

Verdict: one blockbuster, two big hits, two minor successes, one of which was almost entirely sold on its Oscar prospects (Cider House Rules)

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? They were already pretty generous with the hits -- and picked the best one (The Sixth Sense) though some would argue for Toy Story 2 here. 

2000 (374)
Gladiator #4
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon #12
Erin Brockovich #13
Traffic #15
Chocolat #32

Verdict: one blockbuster, three very big hits (two of which used Oscar buzz to help them), and one feel good hit specifically pitched on its Oscar prospects (Chocolat)

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? It was strange at the time that they weren't enamored by Cast Away #2 but the 2000 list had nothing other than hits in it.

2001 (356)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring #1
A Beautiful Mind #11
Moulin Rouge! #43
Gosford Park #59
In the Bedroom #68

Verdict: two blockbusters, one hit, and two minor hits with specific prestige factors (both using their Oscar campaigns to propel them)

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Did you really want Pearl Harbor #7 included just because it was "popular"? I think not. I suppose in retrospect they could have honored the first Harry Potter #1 with being embarrassing but it's DEFINITELY nowhere near as good as anything nominated (with the exception of maybe the winner, A Beautiful Mind)

2002 (480)
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers #2
Chicago #10
Gangs of New York #35
The Hours #56
The Pianist #80

Verdict: two blockbusters, two minor hits, and one prestige hit that didn't quite explode. All five were released in December so their Oscar campaigns were part of their initial public identity.

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Only Catch Me If You Can #11. I mean does anyone honestly think My Big Fat Greek Wedding #5 or Attack of the Clones #3 or Chamber of Secrets #4 deserved a spot?

Only two trilogies have seen all their entries nominated for Best Picture: The Godfather and The Lord of the Rings

2003 (551)
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King #1
Seabiscuit #17
Master and Commander: Far Side of the World #31
Mystic River #33
Lost in Translation #67

Verdict: one blockbuster, one big hit, two minor hits, and one critical darling. None really needed Oscar attention to become hits (only Lord of the Rings and Master and Commander were released late in the year.)

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Finding Nemo #2 but they knew they had a category in which to automatically honor it. Also the first Pirates of the Caribbean#3 but given what came after perhaps skipping it was wise. Otherwise including a hit to include a hit would have resulted in VERY embarrassing choices. The Matrix Reloaded #4 anyone? Terminator 3 #8 ? 

2004 (551)
The Aviator #22
Million Dollar Baby #24
Ray #37
Sideways #40
Finding Neverland #61

Verdict: two big hits (both propelled by Oscar glories), two hits, and one film pitched solely on Oscar appeal that was a minor success. The story that the early Aughts is telling us requires one to look at actual box office charts of the time. As the Aughts progress you'll notice more and more franchises and sequels and animated features taking up ALL of the top ten lists. The Aviator and Million Dollar Baby, for example, are easy to imagine as top ten hits of their entire year if you place them back in the 1980s. 

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Yes, The Incredibles #5. I also loved Spider-Man 2 #2, but it was a sequel and even superhero fans didn't rally around it like they did say The Dark Knight. Otherwise had the Academy felt the need to include a big hit they had DIRE choices like The Day After Tomorrow #7, National Treasure #9, or Troy #13. Some would have been happy with a Passion of the Christ #3 nomination but we're glad they passed on Mel Gibson's quasi religious gore epic.

2005 (547)
Brokeback Mountain #22
Crash #49
Munich #62
Goodnight, and Good Luck. #89
Capote #95

Verdict: one big hit (sold largely on Oscar appeal), two minor hits, and two just barely hits sold largely on Oscar appeal. This is one of the years wherein people complained loudly about Oscar's taste not aligning with the publics but the untold story whenever that complaint is lobbed is 'well, what could they have nominated instead?' In the case of 2005, the top 30 hits are all pretty dire in quality with a few exceptions (Batman Begins, Walk the Line, etcetera), none of them exceptions enough to demand Best Picture placement. This will come to be the norm more and more in the land of franchises which is why people should always think before lodging this complaint. But, yes, this was a particularly quiet year in terms of Oscar films being big grossers, as none broke $100 million barrier and none had grossed more than around $50 million before the nominations (both of which are rarities)

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Not really some might say Batman Begins, but that'd be a stretch. Others would argue for the bloated King Kong #5 or the exciting but ultimately silly War of the Worlds #4.  Walk the Line #16, a big hit and quite Oscary was a strange exclusion, though, given their history. Otherwise if you wanted to pull in films that were more popular than Brokeback Mountain, you'd have to have gone with dross like Chicken Little #14 or non-impressive flicks like Hitch #11 or Flightplan #20 or The Chronicles of Narnia #2 or whatnot.

2006 (608)
The Departed #15
Little Miss Sunshine #51
The Queen #57
Babel #92
Letters from Iwo Jima #138

Verdict: one blockbuster (which won), two hits, and two films sold largely on Oscar appeal which didn't really crossover. Letters from Iwo Jima is a very rare example of a film that was nominated for Best Picture before becoming anything like a hit. It had grossed less than $3 million before the nominations were announced.

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? No. Most of the blockbusters would have been embarrassing choices (Night at the Museum #2? Cars #3?) Only Casino Royale,#9, was arguably worthy, for the way it successfully reinvented a long-running franchise. But again, long running series. This is not the Emmys. Oscar has never been about sequels outside of The Godfather and The Lord of the Rings

Juno, a rare high school centric film, to win Oscar hearts

2007 (631)
Juno #15
No Country For Old Men #36
Atonement #50
Michael Clayton #55
There Will Be Blood #56

Verdict: one big hit, one hit, and three minor hits. Like the year before it, with the exception of Juno, none were big hits before the nominations. 

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Not really. Some may argue The Bourne Ultimatum #7 but it did win three craft Oscars which was a fitting tribute to that successful series. Did anyone really want Transformers #3 or Spider-Man 3 #1 called the "best" of their year?

2008 (607)
Slumdog Millionaire #16
Curious Case of Benjamin Button #20
The Reader #82
Milk #88
Frost/Nixon #120

Verdict/Consequences: The late Aughts were when the drumbeats got super loud for Oscar to 'get with the times!' and three straight years of nominating films that weren't really hits definitely convinced people that this had always been the case and would always be the case despite other years arguing that this merely happened from time to time but was not a permanent feature. This year had two big hits (one propelled largedly by their Oscar campaigns), and two minor successes and one flop (the latter three were all traditional "Oscar bait" and their nominations over films like The Dark Knight #1 and WALL•E  #5 angered quite a few people. 

As a result of the widespread complaints, a sudden rule change. We would now have ten nominees for best picture.

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Yes, the two previously mentioned above. 

Avatar is the top grossing film ever if you dont adjust for inflation and the 15th biggest ever if you do. Either way it was a MASSIVE success.

2009 (521)
Avatar #1
Up #5
The Blind Side #8
Inglorious Basterds #25
District 9 #27
Up in the Air #38
Precious #65
The Hurt Locker #116
An Education #132
A Serious Man #145

Verdict: With the newly expanded field we got a full range: three blockbusters, three big hits, one minor hit, and three films which struggled to capitalize on their critical goodwill including the amazing best picture winner The Hurt Locker. 

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? No. Some people were clamoring for Star Trek #7 to make it, but that would have been a stretch quality wise and it was the 9th or 10th film in a franchise. 

2010 (537)
Toy Story 3 #1
Inception #6
True Grit #13
The King's Speech #18
Black Swan #25
The Social Network #32
The Fighter #35
The Kids Are All Right #114
127 Hours #119
Winter's Bone #143

Verdict: two blockbusters, five big hits, and three indies that did okay for themselves but not major crossover success.  

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? No outside of the two top ten grossers they included it was all sequels and family stuff like Despicable Me #7.

2011 (602)
The Help #13
Descendants #39
War Horse #41
Moneyball #47
Hugo #49
Midnight in Paris #59
The Artist #71
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close #97
The Tree of Life #132

Verdict: one blockbuster, four hits, two small sleeper successes that got everyone talking, and two films that didn't get popular outside of Oscar love (Extremely Close) or critical love (Tree of Life).

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? No, with the exception of Bridesmaids #14

Remember when Lincoln was a surprise giant hit. That was weird, right? I mean it was good but still. Unexpected.

2012 (669)
Lincoln #13
Django Unchained #15
Les Miserables #18
Argo #22
Silver Linings Playbook #23
Life of Pi #27
Zero Dark Thirty #32
Beasts of the Southern Wild #130
Amour #145

Verdict: three big hits, four more hits, and then two films that didn't cross over outside of critical attention though they did well in arthouses. 

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Skyfall #4 was the only viable option that was bigger than Lincoln and Django Unchained but it was also the 20th+ film from a franchise. Still, it probably would have been nominated had they stuck with a top ten field instead of their weird 5-10 nominees depending on how voting goes.

2013 (688)
Gravity #4
American Hustle #17
Wolf of Wall Street #28
Captain Phillips #32
12 Years a Slave #62
Philomena #80
Dallas Buyers Club #95
Her #100
Nebraska #117

Verdict: one blockbuster, one really big hit, two hits, three minor hits, and two minor successes (the latter five and a couple of the bigger hits significantly buoyed by the Oscar buzz.)

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Other than Frozen #3, which they had a whole category designed to reward, the giant hits were not particularly well regarded in terms of quality and they were mostly sequels. Though they did pass on two hits with Oscary elements: The Great Gatsby #18 and The Butler #29. 

2014 (707)
American Sniper #1
The Imitation Game #36
The Grand Budapest Hotel #54
Selma #61
Birdman #78
The Theory of Everything #85
Boyhood #100
Whiplash #125

Verdict: one blockbuster, three hits, two minor hits, one critical darling that was almost a hit, and one crowd pleaser that never quite caught on. 

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? I would argue no. It was mostly animated features that were fun but not amazing and sequels or bad cash-ins like Maleficent #8. Though they could have included the #18 grosser Gone Girl.

2015 (705)
The Martian #8
The Revenant #13
Mad Max Fury Road #21
Bridge of Spies #42
The Big Short #44
Spotlight #62
Brooklyn #70
Room #111

Verdict: two blockbusters, three hits, two sleeper successes that never became big hits, and one critical darling that never quite caught on with the public. 

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Yes, two: Star Wars: The Force Awakens #1 and Pixar's Inside Out #4 but the presence of an Animated Feature category has dimmed the chances of animated features making the expanded lineups (once people got used to the animated feature being a done deal for Pixar).

Hidden Figures success shouldn't have surprised people. But it did.

2016 (736)
Hidden Figures #14
La La Land #19
Arrival #29
Hacksaw Ridge #46
Fences #57
Lion #66
Manchester by the Sea #69
Moonlight #92
Hell or High Water #95

Verdict: two blockbusters, two hits, and four minor successes, some of which were boosted considerably by the Oscar attention. 

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? NOPE! Sorry but Deadpool #6 would have made a totally embarrassing nominee, since it will be as dated in in a few years as, say, Shrek is now. These days if you want to find "quality" hits you usually have to find them in the top 30 of the year or so since the top ten most successful movies are almost always sequels or animated pictures. And if you look through the past several years Oscar has pretty much done exactly that, embracing hits (mostly) where they can.

2017 (740)
Dunkirk #14
Get Out #15
The Post #39
The Shape of Water #46
Darkest Hour #50
Three Billboards #52
Lady Bird #56
Phantom Thread #101
Call Me By Your Name #108

Verdict: two blockbusters, five medium to minor hits (all boosted by their Oscar runs), and two films that did better than they would have without Oscar attention but not as well as some might have hoped. 

Was there a blockbuster the Academy could have honored without embarrassing themselves? Wonder Woman #3 more for its historic nature than any perfection (it's uneven) but Oscar has nominated things for historic reasons before. Otherwise the next truly viable options they totally nominated in major ways: Dunkirk and Get Out

WHEW. Finis.

Our conclusion:

Oscar doesn't remotely need a "popular achievement" category. Their awards already take care of those things. What they could do to improve their reach into pop culture is to learn to appreciate genres outside of drama more naturally without needing lots and lots of cajoling to do so. Or perhaps, if the Board of Governors REALLY must make a change, they could appoint an executive committee who is able to save 1 or 2 movies a year (like in foreign film) and move Best Picture back to 10 spots so that anything that feels especially worthy that voters didn't recognize for some reason could still stand a chance. 

A stunt category (which they've needed for a long time) would be another way to honor audience-popular genres that would actually function in much the same way the Oscars have already functioned: by attempting to recognize great achievements in all aspects of filmmaking. 

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Reader Comments (61)

I LOVE YOU FOR DOING THIS!!!

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJon

"Or perhaps, if the Board of Governors REALLY must make a change, they could appoint an executive committee who is able to save 1 or 2 movies a year (like in foreign film) and move Best Picture back to 10 spots so that anything that feels especially worthy that voters didn't recognize for some reason could still stand a chance."

I ABSOLUTILY L O V E THAT IDEA!!! *-*

About the Stunts Coordenators Category: is the most popcorn category that Oscar will EVER have!!

Look the probablies nominees of 2015:

Mad Max Fury Road
Spectre
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Fast and Furious 7

2017

Dunkirk
Baby Driver
Atomic Blonde
War For The Planet of the Apes
Logan

There is more popcorn than this?

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJon

This is great, thanks for putting in the time. And yeah, a Stunt Coordinator award (and maybe Casting Director or Acting Ensemble) would be much more fitting and address the perceived problem.

Btw, glad you mentioned Walk the Line. I’ve always thought its absence from the final five was odd and have wondered if it may have won if it had gotten the fifth slot.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Thanks for this wonderful article. I hope the Academy reads it, takes note, and rolls back on their announcement.

And, as was said in the earlier thread, given that the Academy has just done such a good job of expanding and diversifying its membershp, why didn't they at least wait a couple of years to see what effect the new voters had on the nominees before deciding anything needed changing?

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

This was wonderful... thanks for ALLL the work..

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterrdf

Amazing work here. Give yourself a raise, and fellow readers, pay him!!!

This new rule of the Academy is so dumb.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

This is an outstanding post. Thank you! (I know you know My Best Friend's Wedding deserved a BP nod, though - not based on popularity, but its inherent brilliance!)

If they start a "save" in BP are there going to be demands to do it in all categories - e.g., the next time a Ben Affleck is overlooked in Best Director, or Selma is ignored in all but two categories? I just see it becoming an unending process.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Theatrical grosses now only tell the part of the story.One factor which should also be considered is how they performed in the VCR/DVD rentals, and now streaming. It used to be that films would be playing for over a year, if not years in theaters (roadshow, first run, second run, drive-ins). Now films that are unexpectedly successful, they may already be playing on On Demand before they are even out of the theaters. I'd like to know, for example, how Hurt Locker has done in its post-theatrical life.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

"Anything more popular than The English Patient that year (other than Maguire) would have looked embarrassing that year in this lineup."

Excuse me, but The Hunchback of Notre Dame would by no means have been an embarrassment.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Everything that is just stated is absolutely smacked-on. Why do we need a popular film category? That is just fucking stupid considering that many of the films that won or were nominated were actually liked by the people.

I'm also in favor of getting new categories for the casting and stunt work as that shit is important. In fact, I think the casting award should be named after one of its great casting directors in Marion Dougherty. The Marion Dougherty Award for Best Casting.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

I'd argue they could have nominated Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in the 11/12 season. They made 100 mil and deserved a nom over friggin Extremely Loud.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTr

I think the point is that, since TITANIC and LORD OF THE RINGS, the most popular film doesn't *win*.

Sure, BLACK PANTHER stands a better-than-usual chance of any superhero film being nominated for Best Picture this year. But if it did, it would never win. If there is a second Best Picture category for Popular Achievement, it would probably win it in a walk.

I think with this new category the Academy were trying to: 1) placate ABC in terms of ratings but also 2) cover themselves in case BLACK PANTHER didn't get nominated and 3) have an award that BLACK PANTHER will surely win!

Obviously we don't know the details of the new category but there is nothing to suggest the winner won't get a 'real' Oscar. It could be like the Best British Film BAFTA ie a 2nd Best Picture category which sometimes has overlap with the Best Film category.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

Certain hits of the 80 wouldn't make any money today. That's the issue. The industry has lost a chunk of the audience and they desperate to get it back (and it's embarrasing to watch).

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Go back to 10.

2010 and 2011 showed that the system worked as intended, it got some of the bigger films nominated.

It's staring them right in the face, and yet...they do dumbest thing imaginable.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTr

2005 was a weird movie year: overall, pretty disappointing best picture choices. But, as mentioned, nothing else demanded to be nominated.

I am more OK with an oddball Sandra Bullock movie in a 10-wide BP field than having a separate popular movie category. This academy decision makes me realize that Hollywood people really don't always have a good grasp of their own industry.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCash

Thank you for your amazing research. Oscars nominate some popular movies. But it is also shows their problem. There are two issues with Oscars: their taste is genre limited and they disproportionately like small movies that do not catchdon despite recognition. How many WWII movies need to be awarded over and over? Lots of comedies, animated, super hero movies have vastly improved their markets and calibre. Oscar needs to tailor their membership that is genre inclusive.

Critical applause has a wide chasm with ticket selling and does not help Oscar reputation at all. Nominating critical darlings that barely are in theatres makes Oscars look nichey, high brow and honestly culturally irrelevant with the masses.

Full thetrical release and adjusting membership that embrace wider genre of movies will help them.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKD

The Oscars always have included at least one blockbuster in their nomination- I hope they drop this popular film category idea it'd terrible- and how will they decide is a popular film based on box office alone? Seriously?! A lot of crappy movies make a lot of money this I think is coming from the power of those over rated Marvel films at the box office

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Really good analysis, thank you.

But we can't have it both ways. The internet is full of articles about the growing irrelevance of the Oscars because the awards mainly cater to highly intellectual films not seen by the masses.

Today the public pays to watch in big numbers Marvel/DC super-hero films, Mission:Impossible/Jason Bourne/James Bond films, Star Wars films, Pirates of the Caribbean films, Mamma Mia films, Fast and Furious films, Transformer films, CGI-heavy mindless action films, and Pixar/talking-animal films. Many/most of these are sequels.These films make lots of money and allow the studios to fund more serious / less popular fare.

Blockbusters may be technically brilliant and deliver entertainment, but they are repetitive, derivative and not intellectually satisfying. The films that are original, challenging and intellectually stimulating have a limited market appeal, often only breaking even thanks to the Oscar boost.

There was a time when the original, challenging, and intellectually stimulating films were also the most popular films. These days, for now at least, are gone.

The Academy is trying to reach fans of the blockbuster category who cannot relate to films like Moonlight, Spotlight and The Shape Of Water.The issue is not about the Academy embarrassing themselves, which suggests applying the current "Best Film" rules to lesser fare. The issue is about creating a new set of rules, acknowledging the specific excellence of blockbusters (in the same way the Academy rightly or wrongly acknowledges the specific excellence of animated films, foreign films, short films, etc).

Would blockbuster fans have tuned in this past February to see which of The Last Jedi, Beauty and The Beast, Wonder Woman, Jumanji, and Guardians of the Galaxy II (the 5 top grossing films of 2017, none of them in last year's Best Film conversation) won an Oscar? Prompted by many cries of "you are out of touch", the Academy appears willing to find out.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAce Black

My 2005's nominees for best picture are

Munich
Brokeback Mountain
A History of Violence
Match Point
King Kong

I know!! It is not that good as LOTR Trilogy, but I like that movie so much! And was good in box office, so could be in the "box office quota" that we could have in this TERRIBLE new category.

About new categories, I think is time to the AMPAS consider giving Oscars to:

Stunts Coordinators

Casting Directors (Ensemble of Actors and Stunts)

Performance Capture and Voice Work (the two could be in the same category and include feature films and documentaries - narrating -)

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJon

I actually think you could've been harsher towards their choices in the 80s. A lot of those films are not remembered fondly or at all, whereas Ghostbusters and Back to the Future are tried and true classics. Yes, movies like that should've been nominated if they're good enough to have endured this long. I get that hindsight is 20/20 but still...They're better than the Passage to Indias and Prizzi's Honors of the world.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTr

For 2005...are you forgetting King Kong? Or War of the Worlds which has aged very well.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTr

Thank you Nathaniel!

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

Thank you Nathaniel!

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

That's not how I'd sum up 1983's more popular possibilities. Here: At the very least Sudden Impact, a substantial improvement from the 2nd and 3rd Dirty Harry movies, would have been a decent Best Picture nominee, and that's without taking into account WarGames and Trading Places.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Let's all play a game!!!

If in 2001 the AMPAS has created (along with Animated Feature Film) the Oscars for:

a) Casting Directors.
b) Stunt Coordinators;
c) Performance Capture / Voice Work / Narrating

Who would be yours choices?

Mine:

2001 a) Gosford Park; b) LOTR The Fellowship of the Ring; c) Billy Cristal - Monsters Inc.
2002 a) The Hours; b) LOTR The Two Towers; c) Andy Serkins - LOTR The Two Towers.
2003 a) LOTR Return of the King; b) LOTR Return of the King; c) Ellen DeGeneres - Finding Nemo.
2004 a) Dogville; b) Spider-Man 2; c) John Hurt - Dogville.
2005 a) Munich; b) HP and the Goblet of Fire; c) Andy Serkins - King kong.
2006 a) Volver; b) Casino Royale; c) Will Lyman - Little Children.
2007 a) I'm Not There; b) Pirates of the Carribean; c) Peter O'Toole - Ratatouille.
2008 a) Milk; b) The Dark Knight; c) Ari Folman - Waltz With Bashir;
2009 a) Inglorious Basterds; b) Star Trek; c) Edward Asner - Up.
2010 a) The Social Network; b) Salt; c) Toby Jones - HP and Deathly Hallows
2011 a) A Separation; b) M:I Phantom Protocol; c) Andy Serkins - Rise of the Planet of the Apes tied with Gary Oldman - Kung Fu Panda 2.
2012 a) Les Miserables; b) Skyfall; c) --
2013 a) Inside Llewyn Davis; b) Captain Phillips;; c) Scarlett Johanson - Her.
2014 a) The Grand Budapest Hotel; b) X-men: Days of Future Past c) --
2015 a) Mad Max: Fury Road; b) Mad Max: Fury Road; c) Lupita Nyong'o - Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
2016 a) Moonlight; b) Rogue One; c) Charlize Théron - Kubo and the two Strings
2017 a) Call me by your name; b) Baby Driver tied with Atomic Blonde; c) Andy Serkins - War for the Planet of the Apes.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJon

The only well written assessment I read today that is supported and backed up with facts and research.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

Love the analysis. The irony - the most shortchanged genre is arguably action movies (though there are exceptions), and those films are most likely to win the craft categories, WHICH YOU WANT TO GIVE OUT DURING COMMERCIALS. Sigh.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Jon: I'm going to give alternate picks for a lot of your V/O and Performance capture selections:

2004: No way enough of the Academy saw Dogville to give that to John Hurt. Most likely, I'd wager either Jason Lee or Holly Hunter, for The Incredibles, would take it that year.
2005: If there were a dedicated category to voice acting and performance capture acting? Serkis would not win four times. Twice, most likely, and with a larger gap between win one and win two. They'd want it to look less limited. My guess: Ralph Fiennes, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit.
2006: Will Lyman was kind of a crap narrator in Little Children. I'd bet you Steve Buscemi, Monster House would be the actual winner.
2009: Look, Up won animated feature, almost ENTIRELY, on the back of the first ten minutes. Not impossible, but I doubt it would win for voice acting based on that. Dakota Fanning or Teri Hatcher, Coraline and Keith David, The Princess and the Frog all seem like more likely results than Ed Asner in 2009.
2011: Cut that tie. If anyone's tying Andy Serkis that year (unlikely), it would be Timothy Olyphant's NOTE PEFECT cameo in Rango and not Gary Oldman as an uninspired villain in his overlarge roster of villains.
2012: You don't even offer a winner! Nope. Kodi Smit McPhee, ParaNorman or Sarah Silverman, Wreck-It-Ralph. Both made stuff that shouldn't have worked...kind of work.
2014: Also don't offer a winner. As a basically once in a career opportunity, I'd wager dollars to donuts that Gerard Butler, How to Train Your Dragon 2, wins this, EASILY.
2015: Um...Lupita N'yongo as bartender Yoda? Over Amy Poehler in Inside Out? Hahahahahaha! Oh, wait, you're serious? Let me laugh even harder. Bwahahahahahahahahaha!
2016: Oh. THAT'S where you think Laika voice acting would be recognized? Um, no. That voice work is so stiffly delivered it would be wasteful. Jason Bateman, Zootopia. You're welcome.
2017: You know how I said Serkis is probably not getting past two. I meant it. Benjamin Bratt, Coco.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Jon - 2014 had 2 marvellous voice performances: Ben Kingsley in The Boxtrolls and Ben Whishaw in Paddington

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s

Tr -- i wasn't forgetting them. I thought both were highly overrated. but i guess i should have included them since that was the gist of the article.

August 9, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Ace Black -- but my point is the chasm is not as wide as alarmist articles on the internet are always suggesting. If you look through this list MOST of the Oscar nominees for Best Picture were popular. Sure, they went with a few obscure titles over the years, but not that many. They're more likely to honor a medium size hit than something obscure and they're more likely to honor a blockbuster than something obscure.

KD -- i'm not opposed AT ALL to making eligibility harder. I think it would help a lot for a film to have to be open wider to compete for the prizes. I've said it many times that I think the notion that you can rent out a theater for a week in Los Angeles and be eligible is ABSURD. If I had my way if a film wanted to qualify for the Oscars it would have to open in all ten of the top markets. This would include the audience in the Oscars more and also encourage studios to release films so that people could see them and not wait for Oscar nominations to go wide. It would force the studios to think about ways to market their films that are not exclusively about "this is an Oscar film!" which is a problem that has widened the gap considerably in terms of how people think about movies. 'this is for summer. this is for the oscars. etcetera. all of that ghettoization / compartmentalization is not good for the movies.

August 9, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Brilliant analysis, and you have proven your point many times over.
1. Minor additions - 2004 - Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban is a great artistic blockbuster.
2007 - The Children of Men - should have been a Best Picture nominee

2. Additional categories I would like: Best Stuntwork, best voice-over.

3. The Oscars are being forced to correct and change something that is NOT their problem.

ABC wants higher ratings, but Oscars telecast rates in the top 5 of audience share for a live telecast. The fact that there was a dip in ratings is consistent with the dip in the overall audience share for NETWORK programming. Clearly a network would like higher ratings but the content isn't the problem. We don't watch TV the same way anymore. They need to be happy with the audience share of the live show + the number of people who dvr + number who access on website. ABC is blaming the Oscars, when it's a general problem for the NETWORK.

4. Oscars need to establish content that people access over the entire year.

When I wanted to see the Honourary Oscars this year I was treated to 3 min of content. Which is a travesty. They could easily do better with technical awards show, much like the Daytime Emmys.
They need to serve their own audience and stop being intimidated by ABC. The self loathing over the length of the show is stupid. Embrace it, the way Wimbledon embraces a long tennis final, it's part of the tradition.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

I *loathe* this rule change, but now that you (blessedly) detail it: X2, may I add, would've been a fine, fine choice in 2003. The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, two years later, definitely would've made the "popular film" short list.

Always forget that Her was a Best Picture nominee, and *still* can hardly believe that Avatar was as successful as it was. Amazing (and also batshit).

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Nathaniel, I can't tell you how deeply I appreciate the time you took to put this out for consideration. The proof is right there that the Academy will recognize blockbusters when given good quality *and* that it also has the potential to be prescient about a film's future status in the pantheon (Goodfellas and Fargo are now well past being must-viewing for any serious film viewer and films like Shawshank and Babe are well-loved far beyond their initial box office take).

I also agree with other readers here who see a strong balance in the 2009-10 lists. The voters responded with a good range of films. I trust they would do that again if the Academy went back to that system.

Well done--this really is one of the best articles you've ever put up on your site, and I hope more than a few of your readers are Academy members.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterzig

I have a theory that the most popular film category will be chosen by worldwide voting from a list on The Oscar website. Then the academy chooses the winner. The best picture winner has been (o late) te Most Popular Film already. Most popular according to the dubious taste of a bunch of entertainers who produce 2-3 good movies a year. To put that much stake at some 7000 people's opinion seems to be a waste of time. It's ok to be curious about it, but to obsess over it seems a bit much. And the show should definitely shorter. It's such a badly produced show with a format that is stale. There are more important things to worry about.

August 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLee

Hi Nathaniel, again, you have done a fabulous job here, thank you. The data is fascinating.

Using your data, the annual average box office position of the 5 films nominated for best picture is as follows:

1980s: 25.32
1990s: 27.14
2000s: 40.96
2010s: 29.32
Last 5 years (2013 to 2017): 33.2

The average for the four years from 2005 to 2008 was a miserable 60.4. That's right, the average box office of the 5 films competing for "best" was 60th in terms of broad public interest for four straight years.

The Academy responded by increasing the number of nominees to between 8 and 10 (I used only the best 5 for the summaries above), starting in 2009. The average for the 2010s rebounded to 29.32, still worse than the 1980s and the 1990s, despite almost doubling the number of nominees.

And in the last 5 years? A clearly dipping average, now the top 5 best picture nominees are on average 33rd in the box office as far as the public is concerned.

10 times in the past 14 years (2004 to 2017), the best performing best film nominee did not crack the top 10 in box office. In the 24 years before that (1980 to 2003), it happened just one time, in 1984.

Clearly there is a widening chasm between what is considered "best" and what the public is willing to pay to see. To maintain relevance, Intervention 1 was increasing the number of nominees. This was only briefly successful. This new category is Intervention 2.

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAce Black

Ace -- but you sound like you think being "relevant" requires dropping any notions of good taste. Films like TRANSFORMERS and the BEAUTY THE BEAST remake do not need to be regarding as "best" simply because people will pay to see them. That's insane.

It doesn't make you irrelevant to realize that people don't care about quality so much as familiarity these days (the top tens each year are almost exclusively sequels and animated films now) but when a film has dramatic elements and is not part of a franchise and is very successful Oscar usually still honors it.

August 10, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Oscars don't have to go to the masses. The masses need to go to see the movies. The good movies. The audience became irrelevant for the AMPAS. The Oscars are the same since the beginning and audience watched its movies. Now the audience doesn't want the "Oscar Movies" anymore. Blame the audience. The public opinion thinks that Iron Man or Spiderman should be nominated and win a lot of Oscars just because they are beloved and popular and made a lot of money like Gone With The Wind and The Sound of Music. Oscars aren't just about to be beloved and popular and make a lot of money. The Oscars and the audience have different tastes now. I think they will give Best Picture to a Marvel or DC comics movie fearing the net fury, but who cares? AMPAS destroyed its own reputation a long time ago.

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMelchiades

While I appreciate the research, the list, the comments, the fun....I just can’t with the use of the word “Blockbuster” for MANY of the films that were described as such.

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBD (the real one)

Great research, but I continue to think that bigger issue is one of genre bias. Again, few films released this year will be as highly acclaimed as Black Panther, which also happens to be the highest grosser of the year. It should be a no-brainer for a BP nod, but you can see them already bending over backwards to make sure it’ll be represented because it can just as easily be ignored because of genre. I think that fact that Wonder Women couldn’t manage a single nomination last year highlights the issue (especially in the time of #metoo and discussions surrounding how important that film was to women). I think it’s also telling that an Animated film hasn’t managed a BP nod since they dropped the guaranteed 10.

Transformers would absolutely have been an embarrassment in a general BP field, and thank goodness that critics highlight the underseen but truly worthy (Moonlight won Best Picture!). I don’t think that general audiences are expecting anything that simply makes money to be nominated, but when massive critical acclaim collide with massive box office, the Academy does seem to be presented with options on a platter that are thrown off the table because they don’t fit in the right genre.

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVal

Thank you Nathaniel for this exhaustive article.
Just this year, our Academy created the "Audience César", which automatically goes to the most-viewed French film of the year.
Great minds think alike. LOL

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

good grief, that’s an astounding number of increased releases over the years - from just over a hundred to 700 plus. no wonder i always feel like i’ll never catch up on my missed list

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterpar

♡♡♡♡♡Scarlerheth♡♡♡♡♡

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterFeline Justice

Going back through the box office charts, and my own Oscar season knowledge, it really feels like the year 2000 cycle was the one that burned Hollywood when it came to mid/high-budget adult drama. Films like "Pay It Forward", "The Legend Of Baggar Vance" and "All The Pretty Horses" were studio films with Oscar hopes but they just crashed and burned, and after that it almost just feels like they accept their losses and leave that to the indies.

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterThe Jack

This is absolute brilliance.

Obviously a list as exhaustive as this is going to have a comment section filled with "WHY DID YOU FORGET THIS," but the only thing that popped out to me that you didn't already cover is 1996's The Birdcage. It was #9 in its year, was nominated for two Golden Globes and WON the SAG ensemble, but somehow ended up with a lone Oscar nomination for Art Direction (???). Probably just a sign of less accepting times, but it will always baffle me that its critical and commercial acclaim never translated into Oscar love

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

@Volvagia

thanks for the feedback.

I have to remind myself of your uneducated and aggressive feedback history on this site. I understand sarcasm, passion, etc. but a little more education to your fellow commentators would be very welcome.

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Thanks again for the list, Nat...mustve taken a lot of time.

For the most part you are correct, it's all alarmist hand-wringing. But it's perception more than anything that leads to such wringing. For some people a film that earns 50 to 90 mil on a teeny budget is a hit, but not a big enough hit to say the Academy isnt out of touch. It's all relative I suppose.

Their main problem for me is not even recognizing big hits when they fall into their wheelhouse, like in 2015 when they snubbed both Creed and Straight Outta Compton. Two snubs that also added to the Oscars So White narrative I might add.

Both of them were better than some of the actual nominees and it felt, in that case anyway, like their popularity with mainstream America led Academy members to disregard them as "populist."

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTr

A friend of my say something that I like to share with u all:

"Before 2001, there was few animated movies, and the best ones was almost always from Disney. After the creation of the category of Best Animated Feature Film, the number of animated films grow year after year and the quality go from good to outstanding, and the studios saw an opportunity to open Animated departments and let them do they work.

And if with the decision of create a Popcorn Oscar the AMPAS help, in some kind of way, the industry to do better popcorn movies? Because if, to be nominated for the new category, the AMPAS decides that the members shoul all give a note from one to five and only the top 5 movies with highest notes became nominated, the industry will have to make better movies no matter what they think."

I want the opinio of you all. There is something good in this commentary of my friend. It is a good idea.

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian

"I mean did you really want Independence Day #1 or Twister #2 or The Rock #7 as Best Picture nominees?"

UH, YES.

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermikenewq

mikenewq -- ew. those aren't even great popcorn movies. None of them have the staying power of something like Back to the Future or Jurassic Park or The Sixth Sense.

August 10, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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