The Academy Awards, Something Really Has Changed

The Academy Awards are over, now we can all complain about the Academy Awards

The Oscar postmortem, it is as much a part of the movie landscape as Marvel Studios. It is talked about and picked apart more thoroughly than a Hobbit movie. Best and worst dressed lists, people complaining about the length of the telecast, people complaining about the host, people complaining about who won and who lost. It is all picked and prodded and it always sounds the same … or does it?

The stuff about who wore what and the host not being funny enough and all that stuff, that is consistent. I doubt I have missed more than 3 or 4 Oscars in my life and they were all too long and self-important and the host always feels like they are on a very short leash. Sure, sometimes it works a little better, as much a function of acceptance speeches as any other factor, but the truth is it is an impossible telecast that is trying to do way too many things at once for it ever to truly work. Just as it always has been. But something has changed and in many ways it has changed everything.

In the 1980’s the average best picture winner was the 8th highest grossing movie of the year. In the 1990’s the eventual winner averaged out to be the 9th highest grossing picture. In the 00’s things started to change. In 2003 Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King became the last movie to be the highest grossing movie of the year and win best picture (since 1980, which is as far back as Box Office Mojo does yearly box office rankings, that has happened four time, 1988 Rainman, 1994 Forest Gump, 1997 Titanic and 2003), since then the average best picture winner was the 47th highest grossing movie of that year and somehow that number is climbing. In the 2010’s the average is 51st. The 51st highest grossing movie in 1980? Oh God, Book II.

Since I took the time to look up the numbers I’ll throw a few other odd tidbits out. From 1980 to 2003 there was only one year in which one of the top 5 films at the box office wasn’t nominated. 1989 was the outlier, Driving Miss Daisy won and was the 8th highest grossing picture of the year and Dead Poets Society, which was also nominated, was the 10th highest grossing picture. Every other year at least one of the year’s biggest hits was also considered won of the year’s best films.

What does all of this mean? I don’t know. Maybe the Academy has some kind of self-loathing problem or maybe they feel like the money is reward enough for those other movies, but the fact remains that the awards show itself isn’t as fun when no one has seen any of the movies.

But hey, what do I know? I’m fat.