How Often Do the Early Favorites Win Best Picture? – The Hollywood Reporter

Semi-autobiography of Steven Spielberg The Fablemans An early favorite to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Or maybe it is Babylon. Or Banshees of InishreinOr Everything everywhere at onceOr TarOr Top Gun: Maverick. For now, it depends on the experts you ask.

We’re just days away from what some feel is the true start of Oscar season, when the critics’ hordes start making their voices heard. And with those slates of nominees comes another “early favorite” — perhaps one of the films listed above. But how much do we have to believe that the early favorite really is? The Favorite?

To answer this question, I looked at the winners of eight major critics’ groups going back at least to 1990, giving us 32 years of data to work with. It turns out that those eight — the National Board of Review, the National Society of Film Critics and the critics’ circles in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Kansas City and London — have a spotty track record.

Of the 32 Best Picture winners during that period, only 11 were “early favorites,” which I define as a film that won a multiple of those eight honors: The Silence of the Lambs, No excuse, Schindler’s List, American Beauty, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, No country for old men, Hurt Locker, the artist, 12 years a slave, Parasite And nomad land. The number goes up to 13 if we add relationships: Slumdog Millionaire And Wall-E As forever linked, each of the three won Moonlight And La La Land.

Complicating matters is that the early favorite is often far from unanimous. only Schindler’s List And Social network All eight of these critics led groups and the latter still lost King’s Speech After a couple of months. Over three years – 1996, 2000 and 2017 – the eight inaugural awards were divided among six different films. Yet somehow, not one of them won an Academy Award, because The English patient, Gladiator And shape of water All were shut down by those critic groups.

And those aren’t the only films that went 0-8 early on but gained late momentum to win Oscars: Hard minded, Shakespeare in love, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago, Argo And CODA It also took eight straight misses from the December contests to emerge victorious.

On the reverse, three films – Mulholland Drive, About Smith And United 93 — were all considered early favorites by this method but didn’t even get a Best Picture nomination, an unfortunate phenomenon that’s less likely to happen now that the Academy has doubled the size of its top category.

There is some correlation between how well a film does among these critical accolades and its eventual fate at the Oscars, however scattered it may be. The chart on the left, which looks at the past two decades, shows that while many Best Picture winners have earned critical acclaim throughout the campaign, there remain a handful of films that manage to forge their own path to the Academy’s top prize.

These days, since the number of December awards has grown substantially since 1990, we have even more data to pinpoint an early favorite, as critics’ groups have formed in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Dallas, among other cities. But at least from this data set, the mid-December favorite has a 1-in-3 chance of finally landing the final statuette, giving the Oscar race plenty of time to take twists and turns in January, February and March. .

Authored by Ben Zouzmer OscarMetrics: The math behind the big night in Hollywood.

This story first appeared in the Nov. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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