As therapy for my OCD (Oscar Compulsive Disorder), I’ve been keeping track of the IMDb Top 250 fluctuations since just after Christmas. The final week of 2008, the last couple of Oscar contenders made their expected appearance on the chart. Click above to check out the full-size graph tracking the only nine films (so far) that stirred up enough fan base excitement to give them a shifty, slippery and admittedly dubious position among some of the best movies ever made — however temporary and clearly volatile those rankings may be.
You won’t see Goodfellas or Pulp Fiction jolting and dipping all over the IMDb chart like Cheney’s blood pressure. The classics don’t budge much. It’s always the newest arrivals that see a surge and then slip before hitting a plateau. Films fall precipitously after a few months, but eventually level out in some semblance of sanity. I’ll remind you once again, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood were at #22 and #23 the night before the Oscars last year. It wasn’t until the DVDs came out that some of that heat cooled off. (They’re now at #95 and #113).
So what does this graph mean? Not a lot, if you’re expecting a guaranteed mathematical Oscar system. But purely as a measure of the elusive “buzz” factor, these trends are pretty damn accurate. The peaks are interesting (to me), and in a couple of cases more than a little disturbing. I’ll continue to track these numbers for another month, but its data is yielding its most reliable info: it’s probably confirming at least 4 of tomorrow’s 5 nominees.