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I’m a gamer, always have been.

The Curious Case of the Disappearing Box Office and Best Picture

You know what’s kind of funny? There are thousands and thousands of people all over the country who get to see movies for free. Yes, they are awards voters. There are 120,000 in SAG, 15,000 in the DGA, 7,000 in the Academy. 6,000 or so in the PGA. And then there are the bloggers and critics, some 368 just in the Broadcast Film Critics Association. They all (we all) get to see any movie we want for free. We get invites to screenings with fancy Q&As. The best of these I attended featured Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson. All in the name of winning Oscars. They spare no expense to get the people who vote to see their movies so it doesn’t matter to them if a movie is seen or liked by the public. All that matters is that the people who vote for awards get to see the movies for free and that they like the movies they get to see for free.

Much of the time, I skip the awards screenings and go see the movies in a theaters. Yeah, I pay. Last time it was about $50 to take my daughter and niece to see 8th Grade. I sat with a group of fellow ticket-buyers watching a movie I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s been a while, I have to say, when I’ve paid to see movie and the theater has been been packed. Screenings are always packed – you know, those showings we VIPs all get to see for free? Always hard to find a seat. But regular movies? Theaters frequently struggle to fill those seats.

So take it with a grain of salt, my friends, the amount of online pearl clutching and hand wringing over the Academy’s efforts to expand the scope of movies that deserve acclaim, and know that the awards-watching community, myself included, are a bunch of pampered, privilegedpeople who really have it way too easy when it comes to being catered to with movies served on a silver platter. These lucky people don’t live in places where awards movies don’t play. That’s also why they have the luxury of bitching about Netflix and Amazon. God forbid anyone should help make it easier for people outside of Manhattan and L.A. to see movies.

Now the Academy wants to broaden the reach of the Oscars — to reach people who actually pay to see movies that keep the industry thriving — and from all the shrieks and gasps you’d think they just announced that Trump would be the new President of the Academy.

I guess I always thought, all these years, that people who cover the race deep down realize that movies are meant for everybody and thus the Oscars are supposedly meant for everybody everywhere who loves movies. The critics have staked out territory with their awards — good lord there are more critics awards now than ever before. The industry have their guild awards. The general public? They get, at best, the People’s Choice Awards and the MTV Movie Awards whose winners selected by regular civilians — and thus are automatically dismissed by industry experts and cinephiles alike.

I do hope that the Academy does not buckle under to pressure of the backlash now happening, but I fear that they will. I would just like to say, I get it. After spending half my life covering the Oscar race and watching it go from an awards body that once awarded a polished pop-epic like Gladiator to an awards body that would now consider it beneath their dignity, I get it. I get why the change were suggested by ABC and I get why the Academy has proposed to make some changes. I get why the Academy listened to the network’s concerns and decided on ways to adapt. Here at AwardsDaily they will find a lone voice of support. You can’t stop what’s coming and everyone knows change is coming one way or another.

Most people who cover the race — you all know who they are — will be rooting for the Academy’s efforts to fail. But I am hoping that this venture might broaden the discussion of Best Picture to once again factor in the attitudes of the ticket-buying public in ways that helped shape the direction and appeal of the Oscars in past decades. I say all this knowing that everything will be stacked against the Academy going forward. But I believe it’s a necessary step if Hollywood is to survive and thrive as we all adjust to the fast-evolving dynamics for movie-makers, movie-watchers and movie-lovers.

The Academy doesn’t always get it right. The critics don’t always get it right. Sometimes the public gets it more right than either of them. Time sorts things out – time tells us which movies will survive and flourish and which movies won’t; awards don’t do that. The Academy can no more determine which films will stand the test of time and which won’t. It’s the height of arrogance to think that any of us can in the moment films are released. Why, because the Oscar race has always always always been about Ms. Right Now and opposed to Miss Right, to paraphrase the great Robin Williams.

To prove my point, here are a few examples going way back through Oscar history, from 2007 and earlier and yourself, which of these films has stood the test of time?

One thing to note in looking back over Oscar history, it is rare to find any film that won Best Picture that wasn’t also near or at the top of the box office. This was consistently true for most of Academy history. Here is a list of the winners, their place on the box office list and films that were popular at the time but not nominated:

2017–Best Picture winner–The Shape of Water #46
Not nominated: Wonder Woman, It, Logan

2016–Best Picture winner–Moonlight #92
Not nominated: Deadpool, Sully, The Accountant

2015-Best Picture winner–Spotlight #62
Not nominated: Jurassic World, The Force Awakens, Straight Outta Compton, Creed

2014-Best Picture winner–Birdman #78
Not nominated: Gone Girl, Nightcrawler, Guardians of the Galaxy

2013-Best Picture winner–12 years a Slave #62
Not nominated: The Butler

2012-Best Picture winner–Argo #22
Not nominated: Skyfall, Ted, Magic Mike

2011-Best Picture winner–The Artist #71
Not nominated: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Bridesmaid, Super 8, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

2010–Best Picture winner–The King’s Speech #18
Not nominated: Shutter Island

2009–Best Picture Winner–The Hurt Locker #116
Not nominated: The Hangover, Fast and Furious

2008–Best Picture winner–Slumdog Millionaire #16
Not nominated: Wall-E, The Dark Knight

2007–Best Picture Winner–No Country for Old Men #36
Not nominated: The Bourne Ultimatum, American Gangster

2006–Best Picture Winner: The Departed #15
Not nominated: The Devil Wears Prada, Dreamgirls, Inside Man, The Holiday

2005–Best Picture winner: Crash #49
Not nominated: War of the Worlds, Mr. & Mrs, Smith, Walk the Line,

2004-Best Picture winner: Million Dollar Baby #24
Not nominated: The Passion of the Christ, Fahrenheit 9/11, Collateral, Mean Girls, The Notebook, Friday Night Lights, Napoleon Dynamite, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

2003–Best Picture Winner–Return of the King #1
Not nominated: School of Rock

2002-Best Picture winner–Chicago #10
Not nominated: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Catch Me if you Can, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Spider-Man, Minority Report, The Bourne Identity, 8 Mile, Panic Room, Road to Perdition

2001–Best Picture Winner: A Beautiful Mind #11
Not nominated: Ocean’s 11, Black Hawk Down, The Fast and the Furious, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

2000-Best Picture winner: Gladiator #4
Not nominated: Meet the Parents, What Lies Beneath

1999–Best Picture Winner: American Beauty #13

Not nominated: The Matrix, Runaway Bride, Notting Hill, The Talented Mr. Ripley

1998–Best Picture winner: Shakespeare in Love #18
Not nominated: There’s Something About Mary, The Truman Show, You’ve Got Mail, Out of Sight

1997–Best Picture winner–Titanic #1
not nominated: Men in Black, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Breakdown, The Game, Wag the Do

1996–Best Picture winner–The English Patient #19
Not nominated: Twister, First Wives Club

1995–Best Picture winner–Braveheart #18
Not nominated: Se7en, Toy Story, Heat, The American President

1994–Best Picture Winner–Forrest Gump #1
Not nominated: True Lies, Speed, Dumb and Dumber

1993–Best Picture Winner–Schindler’s List #9
Not nominated: Jurassic Park, Sleepless in Seattle, In the Line of Fire

1992–Best Picture Winner–Unforgiven #11
Not nominated: Batman Returns, Basic Instinct, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Alien 3

1991–Best Picture winner–The Silence of the Lambs #4
Not nominated: Terminator 2, Fried Green Tomatoes, Thelma and Louise

1990–Best Picture winner–Dances With Wolves #3
Not nominated:  Misery

1989–Best Picture winner–Driving Miss Daisy #8
Not nominated: Do the Right Thing, When Harry Met Sally,

1988-Best Picture winner–Rain Man #1
Not nominated: Die Hard, A Fish Called Wanda, Bull Durham, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

1987-Best Picture winner–The Last Emperor #25
Not nominated: Robocop, The Untouchables

1986–Best Picture winner–Platoon #3
Not nominated: Top Gun, Aliens, Stand by Me

1985–Best Picture winner–Out of Africa #5
Not nominated: Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club

1984–Best Picture winner–Amadeus #12 
Not nominated: The Terminator, Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters

1983–Best Picture winner–Terms of Endearment #2
Not nominated: Trading Places, Risky Business

1982–Best Picture winner–Gandhi #12
Not nominated: 48 Hours, Blade Runner, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Road Warrior, The Thing, My Favorite Year

1981–Best Picture winner–Chariots of Fire #7
Not nominated: Body Heat, Arthur

1980–Best Picture winner–Ordinary People #11
Not nominated: Empire Strikes Back, 9 to 5, Airplane! The Shining, Caddyshack,

1979–Best Picture winner–Kramer vs. Kramer #5
Not nominated: Alien

1978–Best Picture Winner — The Deer Hunter #7
Not nominated: Grease, Halloween

1977–Best Picture Winner — Annie Hall #11
Not nominated: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Saturday Night Fever, High Anxiety

1976–Best Picture Winner–Rocky #1
Not nominated: Carrie, The Bad News Bears, The Omen,

1975–Best Picture winner — One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest #3
Not nominated: Tommy, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Eiger Sanction,

1974–Best Picture winner — Godfather Part II #3
Not nominated: Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein,

1973 — Best Picture winner — The Sting #2
Not nominated: Paper Moon, Serpico, High Plains Drifter, The Long Goodbye, Mean Streets

1972–Best Picture winner — The Godfather #1
Not nominated: Last Tango in Paris, Lady Sings the Blues, Blacula,

1971–Best Picture winner — The French Connection  #3
Not nominated: Willy Wonka, Dirty Harry, Play Misty for Me, Straw Dogs, Harold and Maude, Klute, Billy Jack, Carnal Knowledge, Shaft

1970-Best Picture winner — Patton #4
Not nominated: Little Big Man

1969–Best Picture winner–Midnight Cowboy #3
Not nominated: The Wild Bunch, Easy Rider, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Satyricon

1968–Best Picture winner–Oliver! #8
Not nominated: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Night of the Living Dead, Rosemary’s Baby, Barbarella, Planet of the Apes, Bullitt, Yellow Submarine,

1967-Best Picture winner–In the Heat of the Night #11
Not nominated: To Sir, With Love, The Dirty Dozen, Barefoot in the Park, Wait Until Dark, The Producers, Cool Hand Luke, Belle de Jour, In Cold Blood

1966-Best Picture winner–A Man for All Seasons #5
Not nominated:The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Blow-Up

1965-Best Picture Winner-The Sound of Music #1
Not nominated: Thunderball

1964-Best Picture Winner-My Fair Lady #1
Not nominated: A Fistful of Dollars, A Hard Day’s Night

1963-Best Picture Winner–Tom Jones #4
Not nominated: The Birds

1962-Best Picture Winner–Lawrence of Arabia #1
Not nominated: Lolita, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

1961-Best Picture Winner–West Side Story #1
Not nominated: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Misfits, La Dolce Vita

1960-Best Picture Winner–The Apartment #6
Not nominated: Psycho

1959-Best Picture Winner–Ben Our #1
Not nominated: Imitation of Life, North by Northwest, Some Like it Hot, Suddenly, Last Summer

1958-Best Picture Winner–Gigi #5
Not nominated: Some Came Running, The Young Lions, South Pacific

1957-Best Picture Winner–The Bridge on the River Kwai #1
Not nominated: Raintree County, A Farewell to Arms, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

1956-Best Picture Winner–Around the World in 80 Days #1
Not nominated: The Searchers, Baby Doll, Bus Stop

1955-Best Picture Winner–Marty (could not find box office data)
Not nominated: The Seven Year Itch, East of Eden, Lady and the Tramp, Guys and Dolls, Mister Roberts

1954–Best Picture Winner–On the Waterfront #14
Not nominated: Rear Window (#1), The Barefoot Contessa, Dial M for Murder

1953–Best Picture Winner–From Here to Eternity #2
Not nominated: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, Shane

1952-Best Picture Winner–The Greatest Show on Earth #1
Not nominated Singin’ in the Rain, The Bad and the Beautiful, Come Back Little Sheba

1951-Best Picture Winner–An American in Paris #6
Not nominated: The African Queen, Strangers on a Train

1950-Best Picture Winner–All About Eve #2
Not nominated: The Asphalt Jungle, The Gunfighter

1949-Best Picture Winner–All the King’s Men #10
Not nominated: Little Women, I Was a Male War Bride, Samson and Delilah

1948-Best Picture Winner–Hamlet #17
Not nominated: Easter Parade, Red River, Key Largo

1947-Best Picture Winner–Gentleman’s Agreement #8
Not nominated: Dark Passage, Body and Soul, Road to Rio

1946-Best Picture Winner–The Best Years of Our Lives #2
Not nominated: Notorious, Gilda, The Postman Always Rings Twice

1945-Best Picture Winner–The Lost Weekend #11
Not nominated: Spellbound, Leave Her to Heaven

1944-Best Picture Winner–Going My Way #1
Not nominated: Meet Me in the St. Louis, Cover Girl, Mr. Skeffington

1943-Best Picture Winner–Casablanca #6
1942-Best Picture Winner–Mrs. Miniver #1
1941-Best Picture Winner–How Green Was My Valley #9
1940-The Grapes of Wrath-#9
1939-Gone with the Wind-#1
1938-You Can’t Take it With You #5
1937-The Life of Emile Zola #12
1936-The Great Ziegfeld #2
1935-Mutiny on the Bounty #1
1934-It Happened One Night #11
1933-Calvalcade #1
1932-Grand Hotel #3