The most massive collection of movie stats on the web has mountains of data than can be mined to forecast Oscarworthiness. Simply weighing ratings scores against known Oscar history gives us a quick and dirty indication of nominee likelihood. Daniel mentioned this in a comment a few minutes ago, just as I was putting the finishing touches on these charts — charts I’ve lifted from the IMDb Top 250. It’s a list that’s much maligned, but let’s not be snobs. Note that the bold face titles below are Best Picture nominees, and examine the merits of giving tens of thousands of IMDb voters a little respect.
The top 15 movies on IMDb include 11 Best Picture nominees (73%)
Expanding the list to 50 (which you can do by clicking the one above), we find 32 BP nominees (64%). Not counting the 4 foreign language titles, the 4 neglected Hitchcock films (wtf?), and the 2 David Fincher titles, the percentage rises to 80%. So unless your name is Hitchcock or you speak a funny language, your movie on this top 50 list stands a 4 out of 5 chance of getting a Best Picture nomination. Show me another list that predicts with those odds.
[Chart breakdown continues after the cut]
Before anyone cries foul about giving Fincher a Hitchcock dispensation, consider this: The Green Mile and The Cider House Rules were both nominated for Best Picture in 2000 instead of Fight Club. Really? Il Postino and Babe nominated for BP in 1996 instead of Se7en? Get out! Shortsighted flubs like that are already laughable, but in another 10 years won’t those omissions seem as ridiculous as Three Coins in a Fountain being nominated instead of Rear Window, The Alamo instead of Psycho, and Auntie Mame beating out Vertigo?
I know hindsight is 20/20, but we no longer have to wait 20 years for Cahiers du Cinema to tell us Hitchcock is a treasure. DVDs and the internet and more sophisticated moviegoer awareness have already helped elevate David Fincher to exalted auteur status.
Fincher is especially relevant to this chart analysis because he stands an excellent chance of becoming the 3rd director in 2008 with a film ranking high enough to land on the top 50 list. And interestingly enough, when you eliminate Hitchcock and Fincher as extraordinary ‘oops’ in this formula, it leaves another prominent director with two movies in the top 50 who’s yet to have been Oscar nominated: Christopher Nolan, with Memento and The Dark Knight. (In fact, counting The Prestige, 3 of 5 major films in Nolan’s entire career are in the IMDb top 100.)
AMPAS never woke up in time to properly honor Hitchcock (though he received Best Director nominations for BP-nodless Psycho and Rear Window). Will Fincher and Nolan break the Hitchcock curse? The curse of being too visionary for their time? Or will they become modern-day victims of the 20% blandification quota of Oscar nominee history?
In recent years, the bland titles are becoming more scarce on the Oscar roster, and voters are more aware of the luminous talents whose films become instant classics as soon as their impact sinks in. America is undergoing a seismic shift in national attitude this year. Will Hollywood rock with some landmark aftershocks of its own?