Best of?

August 9, 2008

With bostonist now providing excellent film commentary, there isn’t quite as much need for regular film criticism here on the salad, and I plan to transition back to word/transit blogging for the hundreds tens of people still reading (maybe we can even find a new ten or two!). But every so often, ideas so ridiculous come about that Dash is left with no choice but to comment. In an amazing act of hubris, Boston magazine decided to release their Best of Boston issue THIS SUMMER, as if nothing could possibly happen in the remaining 4 and a half months of the year. So, as an amateur Oscar prognosticator who likes to misuse statistics, I decided to play around with numbers to see what’s the best picture of the year so far, and whether or not that movie has any chance of actually being nominated for best picture.

I decided to use metacritic scores to figure out what movies had the best chance of being nominated. This gave me 8 years of data (40 movies) and information about this year. Some useful information:

  • The lowest scoring movies nominated were Gladiator and Chocolat, both scoring 64s. The highest scoring movies were Sideways and Return of the King at 94
  • 20% of nominated movies have a score of 90 or higher, 47.5% have a score in the 80s, 17.5% in the 70s, and 15% have a score in the 60s
  • The year in the study with the highest average score was 2007 (86.2) and the lowest was, not surprisingly, 2000 (76)
  • The average nominee’s score is 81.375
  • The best movie relative to its year was Sideways, 6.82 SD above; the worst movie relative to its year was Gangs of New York, 8 SD below
  • 18 eligible movies scored higher than 90 in the time period. 8 of them went on to be nominated for best picture

Let’s take last year as an example. Here are the scores of the nominees:

There Will be Blood, 92

No Country, 91

Atonement, 86

Michael Clayton, 82

Juno, 81

Three other eligible movies scored higher than 90: Ratatouille, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Persepolis. Two of these were nominated for Best Animated Feature and the other for Best Director. In short, it’s good to score over 90.

Only one movie in 2008 has thus far scored a 90 or above: Wall-E. No animated movie has been nominated for best picture since Beauty and the Beast. And though 8/18 movies receiving a score of 90 or above are nominated, the best comparables to Wall-E (Ratatouille, Incredibles, even The Triplets of Belleville) did not.

The only other movie with any momentum (critical, box office, or word of mouth) to be equal or better to the average nominee thus far released is The Dark Knight, with a score of 82. As an action movie based on a literary source, you could argue that The Dark Knight is comparable to Lord of the Rings (though they all scored much higher); you could also argue that it’s similar to Gangs of New York, or Gladiator for that matter.

It’s obviously still early. None of the movies nominated for BP last year had been released in the US by August. But, if we were to have to pick the movie already out with the highest shot of being nominated, that would have to be The Dark Knight, the likely-to-be-second-highest-grossing-movie-of-all-time, not adjusted for inflation.

(I’m linking to awards daily in the hopes they find this)