RECENT TRENDS OF OSCAR BEST PICTURE WINNERS – David Chan ’67
10 January 2018
The Oscar Best Picture Voting System:
Since 2010, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has expanded the quota for Best Picture nominees from only 5 movies to between 5 to 10 movies. It has also switched from a plurality system to a preferential system for the final voting for Best Picture.
Suppose there are 9 nominees. In the final voting, the Academy asks each member not to vote for just 1 nominee, but to rank all 9 nominees in the same ballot. Let’s say there are 6,000 members voting (referred to as “total ballots” below). If 1 nominee gets not less than 50% of the total ballots plus 1 (equaling to not less than 3,001, referred to as “hitting the target” below), then this nominee will be awarded Best Picture.
But if zero nominees hit the target, then the nominee with the least number one votes will be eliminated. On each of such eliminated ballot, the number two ranked nominee listed will then be counted as having received an additional number one vote (referred to as “re-distribution procedure” below). After this round of re-distribution procedure, if the total of the original number one votes and the newly added number one votes (referred to as “new total votes” below) of any one of the remaining 8 nominees hit the target, this nominee will be awarded Best Picture.
But if after the re-distribution procedure, still zero nominees hit the target, then the nominee with the least new total votes will be eliminated, and a new round of re-distribution procedure begins. On each of the newly eliminated ballot, if the number two ranked nominee listed has also been already eliminated, then the number three ranked nominee listed will be replaced as having received an additional number one vote. The rounds of re-distribution procedure will repeat until 1 remaining nominee hit the target.
The Academy’s Objective for Such Voting System:
The Academy wants the Oscar Best Picture winner to be a movie that is best liked among most of the Academy members. Last year, for example, LA LA LAND’s popularity among Academy members was quite “polar” – many loved it, but many thought it was way too overrated. MOONLIGHT, on the other hand, was very much liked by most Academy members. So, under the preferential voting system, MOONLIGHT became Oscar Best Picture.
Trends Exhibited by Oscar Best Picture Winners under the New Voting System:
I have done some analyses on my own, and found some interesting trends among Oscar Best Picture winners since 2010. (One of these trends has been pointed out by other writers.)
1. The winner’s North American box office gross was always less than at least 3 of the other Oscar Best Picture nominees for the same year. For example, last year, among the nominees, the top grossing three in North America were HIDDEN FIGURES, LA LA LAND, and ARRIVAL. They did not win Oscar Best Picture.
2. The winner had always received beforehand a Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. For example, last year, LA LA LAND did not receive such a nomination. It did not win Oscar Best Picture.
3. The winner had always received beforehand a Golden Globe nomination for either Best Motion Picture – Drama, or Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
4. The winner had always received beforehand a place among the Yearly Top Films list announced by the National Board of Review.
5. The winner’s critical rating as published by www.rottentomatoes.com had always been more than 90%.Using Such Trends to Predict This Year’s Oscar Best Picture Winner (even before the Academy has announced the Best Picture nominees):
Let us start with the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The nominees this year are THE BIG SICK, GET OUT, LADY BIRD, MUDBOUND, and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI.
However, THE BIG SICK, MUDBOUND, and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI did not get included in the Yearly Top Films list announced by the National Board of Review.
So only GET OUT and LADY BIRD remain to be contenders. GET OUT’s North American box office has already reached $175,686,870, and is almost certain to be one of the top three grossing movies among the potential Oscar Best Picture nominees. (The other two likely top grossing nominees would be COCO and DUNKIRK, or DUNKIRK and THE POST.)
So only LADY BIRD remains. It has already qualified under Trends 2 to 5 listed above, and is quite likely to qualify under Trend 1.
Therefore, if the above listed trends prevail this year, LADY BIRD seems positioned to win Oscar Best Picture.
Industry People Are Predicting Exceptions to Existing Trends This Year:
1. The unprecedented momentum of the Me Too/Time’s Up Movement would likely affect the voting of Academy members. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, for example, is about a mother seeking justice for her daughter who was raped and murdered. Such content would seem very politically correct in respect to the Movement.
2. Several movies, such as THE POST and ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, were very late in sending out DVD screeners to members of various guilds due to delays in post-production. Consequently, these movies were not seen by Screen Actors Guild members before such members voted for nominations for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, perhaps resulting in these movies not getting nominated by Screen Actors Guild. But Academy voters have now received the DVD screeners and may vote for these movies in Oscar ballots.
I hope the above gives you a better understanding about the upcoming Oscar Best Picture race. Should you need more information, please do not hesitate to let me know.
Thank you for reading.