The Oscars and IMDB Rankings

Aaron Rockwell – Staff Writer

Sunday’s big Oscar’s mistake got me thinking: how good is the Academy Awards at selecting movies that remain highly regarded through the ages? I do recognize that they do not pick awards based on popular opinion, but based on the merit of the work in total. But did you know that Babe (yup, that talking pig movie) was nominated one year?

IMDB allows their entire database to be downloaded, so I was able to make a large-scale comparison between IMDB’s ratings and the Academy’s selections. Also, people sometimes geek out that in 1994, Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, and Lion King were all playing in theaters at the same time.

How many nominees for Best Picture are accepted?

From 1933 to 1944, the Oscars accepted 10 nominees for best pictures. They then paired it down to just 5 from 1945 to 2008. In 2009, there were again 10 nominees and since then there have been 8, 9, or 10 nominees. I imagine some exec in 2008 wanted to increase the number of nominees either to add more suspense or because the big studios wanted more visibility for their movies (and paid for the change).

How often does the best picture become the highest rated on IMDB?

Out of the last 89 Oscars, the nominee that wins Best Picture goes on to become the highest rated among the nominees only 37 times. This would mean that if you are looking to maximize your entertainment from a movie (based on IMDB ratings), you have a better chance at looking at the nominees that didn’t win best picture than the ones that did.

The last eight years, the Oscars have not picked a single highest rated movie. This either shows that they don’t bend to social and peer pressure, that studios influenced the decision makers, that the Oscar staff randomly selected the winners, or that the criteria that the Academy uses to judge a movie is different than the criteria the public uses.

Year Won the Oscar Won the Oscar Ranking Did Not Win Ranking Did Not Win
2009 The Hurt Locker 7.6 8.3 Inglourious Basterds
2010 The King’s Speech 8 8.8 Inception
2011 The Artist 7.9 8.1 The Help
2012 Argo 7.7 8.4 Django Unchained
2013 12 Years a Slave 8.1 8.2 The Wolf of Wall Street
2014 Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) 7.8 8.5 Whiplash
2015 Spotlight 8.1 8.2 Room
2016 Moonlight 7.9 8.5 La La Land

What year had the highest average rating?

With Forest Gump, Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, Quiz Show, and Four Weddings and a Funeral, 1994 was a great year to watch all 5 Oscar nominations. With nine movies nominated this last Oscars, it’s hard to even start to think about watching them. The Oscar winner (Moonlight) does not even score within the top five highest ranked nominees: La La Land, Hacksaw Ridge, Arrival, Manchester by the Sea, and Lion. Perhaps the academy knows something we don’t.

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