Since there aren’t five Best Picture nominees to be had this year, although the rapid about-face the Academy did from last year to this leads me to believe that they will go back to five in the near future, we have a very strange way of going about finding the Best Picture nominees. We are looking mostly at number 1 choices. A movie can’t be nominated for Best Picture unless it has 300 number 1s. It’s generally accepted that the Best Picture slate will wind up being between 6 and 9.
What I’m wondering is, will this help or hurt the genre movies? By genre movies, we have to look at those popular entertainment pics that made bank. Of the films that have a chance for Oscar crossover, there are a few that could be seen as genre movies. With a solid ten nominees, we could figure in the “genre movie slot.” But with it being only number 1s that get in, we have to rethink how we imagine the possibilities. You’d be better off still trying to think of five rather than ten.
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 = $375,934,867
2. Captain America = $172,509,991
3. Bridesmaids = $168,565,795
4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes = $163,570,682
5. Super 8 = $126,569,715
Of these, only two have a realistic shot at a Best Pic nod and that’s Super 8 and Harry Potter. I would love to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes sneak in there as it is a very good film.
But that would mean 300 Academy members would choose that movie over, say, War Horse or The Descendants.
A reader gives a better explanation of the process:
In first round of balloting it needs 1% of #1 votes to stay eligible. So 60 #1 votes minimum.
THEN, #2 – #5 votes from ballots for #1 movies that didn’t reach that threshold and redistributed partial #2-#5 votes from movies that far overshot that threshold (say 10% or 12%) go to those movies still eligible.
After that second round ballots are counted and THEN you have to have 5% of ballots to be in for Best Picture. If that leaves 5 or 7 or 10 films, those are nominated. If it (unlikely) leaves 11 or more, the top ten get nominated.
So for example a movie could get 2% #1 votes (120) and get the equivalent of 250 more votes through #2s or even #3s or #4s from ballots with #1s for movies that didn’t make the first cut (or are so popular they split their vote values) and then is in with 370 votes.
Which may make it easier for popular genre films who get not a lot but enough #1 votes and many #2s and #3s.
So essentially you need, at the minimum, 60 #1 votes. And from there you have to look at the number 2 and 3 choices.
Coming up next, genre movies include Steven Soderbergh’s terrifying and well directed Contagion, Drive (which is an artful genre movie), Straw Dogs, Moneyball, The Thing, Anonymous, Twilight Breaking Dawn, Hugo, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Mission Impossible.How many of them would choose Harry Potter as their number one choice? And you have to give props to Bridesmaids too – a film that succeeds with an all-female cast (hardly ever happens) and on word of mouth alone, really. The Academy will never be cool enough to nominate a film like Bridesmaids for Best Picture, however.
The genre movie that would be most likely to get recognized but simply doesn’t have the publicity machine behind it is Attack the Block, which is far and away one of the best films of 2011 and certainly one of the best genre films. A horror movie with heart, brilliantly written, funny, sad and relevant, Attack the Block deserves attention and it deserves to make a lot of money. As of now, it has made only $887,562. If the Academy were smart enough and cool enough to nominate this film I would never stop kissing their collective, privileged asses. But I just don’t see it, even though it fits the description, one of the best films of 2011.
What defines a genre movie is that it’s anything BUT an Oscar genre movie, or it fits tightly into a demographic – it’s a monster movie, an comedy, sci-fi, thriller, etc. What falls into the Oscar genre are usually dramas, preferably period pieces, that feature great acting and writing. Of course, some genre movies cross over because they have great writing and acting, like Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter and Super 8. Nonetheless, because they’re considered genre movies they are automatically not considered for Best Picture in every year except last year when the the opportunity to nominate films from any genre for Best Picture.
Genre movies have cracked Oscar before, like The Towering Inferno, Star Wars, Jaws – but this was back when there weren’t that many blockbusters to be had. Now, blockbusters are a dime a dozen. Very few of them are original and most are sequels and most are pretty bad sequels. Nonetheless, since the Academy did pick District 9 year before last, one would hope that they could see it in their hearts to pick GOOD movies, whether they were genre movies or not.
When you look at the overall box office take so far for 2011 you have to be a little grossed out at the American public eating trash for dinner. One would hope that we would spend on our money to ensure we have better and more diverse offerings at the multi-plex. But instead, we show, time and time again, that the only thing we want is more of the same. We prefer less choices, not more. And so it is for this reason that I hang on to the Oscar race because even at its worst it is far better than what kinds of films drive the box office. Here is how it’s shaking down – and please note, all of the top five films are sequels.
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows = $375,934,867
2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon = $350,586,168
3. The Hangover Part II = $254,424,152
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides = $240,794,584
5. Fast Five = $209,837,675
6. Cars 2 = $189,398,957
Finally, Thor breaks the pattern and from then on down you see original films. You want to know what we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the coming years? Sequels.
This is why, year after year, the Oscar race becomes more and more important. It is one of the few institutions left that believes in rewarding great films. It might not be perfect but it is all we got. And at’ll do, pig. At’ll do.