Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Jason Segel Takes On David Foster Wallace in Controversial 'End of the Tour' (VIDEO) Jason Segel Takes On David Foster Wallace in Controversial 'End of the Tour' (VIDEO) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Read Martin Scorsese's Column on His Favorite Hollywood Leading Ladies Read Martin Scorsese's Column on His Favorite Hollywood Leading Ladies A Woman in Charge: Warner Bros. Names Sue Kroll Head of Global Distribution A Woman in Charge: Warner Bros. Names Sue Kroll Head of Global Distribution 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Does Oscar Really Follow the Critics? Tell-All Charts

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood January 27, 2012 at 6:46PM

Every year, the lead-up to the Oscars is rife with horse race terminology: there are front-runners, films that lag behind and, of course, last minute surges.  As Hollywood bounces from award ceremony to award ceremony, from SAG to the Golden Globes to the Guild awards, the Oscar-predicting crowd gazes into its collective crystal ball and makes its pronouncements. Taking the cue from one of this year's Oscar contenders (that'd be "Moneyball"), we here at TOH decided to take a closer look at the data to see just how Oscar actually takes his cue from the other awards shows and, most importantly, the critics.
6
More Oscars

Every year, the lead-up to the Oscars is rife with horse race terminology: there are front-runners, films that lag behind and, of course, last minute surges.  As Hollywood bounces from award ceremony to award ceremony, from SAG to the Golden Globes to the Guild awards, the Oscar-predicting crowd gazes into its collective crystal ball and makes its pronouncements. Taking the cue from one of this year's Oscar contenders (that'd be "Moneyball"), we here at TOH decided to take a closer look at the data to see just how Oscar actually takes his cue from the other awards shows and, most importantly, the critics.

We looked at the Best Picture winners for the last two decades and asked whether or not those films were the critics' favorite for each year (using data courtesy of Matt Atchity, Editor-in-Chief of Rotten Tomatoes).  We also asked which other awards the Best Picture film garnered throughout the awards season.  The results, which can be seen below (along with a look at the ratings of this years Best Picture nominees and their previous awards), were often surprising.

Perhaps the most striking trend across the years is that the vast majority of Best Picture winners were in fact not the highest rated films according to Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus.  Still, over the two decade period, critics and Academy voters seemed to agree more and more: in the 1990s, Best Picture winners were often only critics' third or fourth favorite films, while in the 2000s they started moving towards the top, with a clear trend in the last three years of critics and Oscar voters overlapping on best pic.  

A few select factors explain why the critics' picks have often gone home without the big prize: "Up" squeezed past "The Hurt Locker" in the critics' eyes (98 percent to 97 percent), but did not make history as the first animated Best Picture winner;  Scorsese's American noir thriller "The Departed" beat out British indie "The Queen."  "The Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Two Towers" both topped the critics' charts in their respective years, but the Academy shied away from giving Best Picture to a fantasy blockbuster until it did award the top prize to the finale, "The Return of the King" (which was beat out in critics' circles by "Lost in Translation"), as a nod to the entire series.

If the critics are an unlikely indicator of which film will take home Best Picture, however, the other awards are much more indicative.  The Golden Globes show the weakest correlation, and haven't predicted the Oscar winner in six of the last five years (2004's "Crash" wasn't even nominated for a Globe).  SAG's track record is more successful, but it is the DGA and PGA who are most predictive of the Oscar winner.  DGA winners have gone on to take home the Oscar for the last four years; PGA winners have done so for the last three.

The biggest outlier, of coure, was 2004's Oscar race.  Although critics loved "Good Night and Good Luck," it received no major awards, and Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain" had the momentum going into the Oscar ceremony.  "Crash" won a stunning upset for Best Picture, having won previously only with the Screen Actors Guild.  For "Crash," it was probably an issue of gender and discomfort with the movie's gay themes: the overall Academy is dominated by men, whereas SAG (like the Academy actors' branch) is more balanced between men and women.

Oscar chart 1
Oscar chart 2

This article is related to: Awards, Oscars, Academy Awards, Awards, Critics, Reviews, Reviews


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.