The 91st Annual Academy Awards are set to air February 24th, and though there will be no host (and limited musical performances by the Best Song nominees), Hollywood’s biggest night is cause for both celebration and critical analysis. Who will take home the grand prize of the evening? That’s where our third annual Oscars Best Picture Dashboard comes in!
We’ve collected data related to the eight Best Picture nominees and created an interactive dashboard that lets you explore the films in a brand new way. You can also attempt to predict this year’s winner based on the following criteria:
Box Office: How much moolah did the movie make?
Director: How much feature film experience and DGA acclaim does the director have?
Actors: How experienced are the films’ two top billed actors?
Media Buzz: How much chatter has there been in the last 90 days? (source: Google Trends)
Critic Review: What is the critical reception of each film? (source: MetaCritic)
The predictor model is dynamic, too. The end user can choose to weigh the factors to their choosing to see how that affects the projected winner. Favoring Box Office returns over Directorial experience, for example, will put mega-blockbuster Black Panther in the top spot. However, if critical opinion is your primary factor, Roma reigns supreme. Click on the image below to interact with the live dashboard!
Based on a True Story
To paraphrase the old adage, truth can be more compelling than fiction. The Academy seems to agree, as six of the eight 2019 Best Picture nominees have their roots in reality. Bohemian Rhapsody, of course, is the story of Queen front man Freddie Mercury, the narrative largely influenced by the participation of his former bandmates. BlacKkKlansman announces with a title card that it is “based upon some fo’ real, fo’ real s**t”, while Vice’s connection to the recent past is impossible to ignore. The Favourite is based on the very real Queen Anne and her close relationships to two women in her court (though history can’t confirm just how close they were). Green Book’s story is drawn from the real-life friendship of renowned pianist Don Shirley and the amazingly named Tony Lip. Even Roma is an autobiographical homage to director Alfonso Cuarón’s childhood in Mexico City.
It’s not clear if being based on a true story gives films an edge. In 90 years of Best Picture winners, only 18 are built upon real life people and plots. However, eight of those 18 were awarded in the last 30 years, and four of those eight have been awarded in the last 10 years, so it’s possible that the Academy is trending towards truth (or at least, a more cinematic version of the truth).
Release Season Trends
Studios tend to release the movies they think have a good chance at nomination in the late fall or winter of the previous year. This makes sense, since Academy Award nominations tend to boost ticket sales, which only is useful if the film is still in theatres. The 2019 Best Picture nominees largely fall under this pattern. All but two of the films nominated this year celebrated their US domestic release in Q4 2018. Black Panther was released in February 2018 (one of the traditional “dump months”), while BlacKkKlansman opened in theatres in May.
Not too long, not too short
What else do the nominated films have in common? Their run time! Seven of the eight films fall just around 135 minutes, while The Favourite clocks in at an even two hours. It’s difficult to determine if there’s a correlation between length and quality for these nominees. It seems unlikely, as the nominated films fall along a wide spectrum of critical review. Roma takes the crown amongst the critics, while Bohemian Rhapsody, despite having the largest ROI of any nominated picture, slumps in with a 49% rating on Metacritic.
Who will win Best Picture this year?
We don’t have a crystal ball, but we do have some data. With its powerhouse cast, experienced director, and hefty media buzz, Vice seems to have an edge over the other competitors (despite, currently, a negative ROI at the box office and middling critical reception). Is our prediction engine perfect? Far from it! In fact, we’re batting zero for the past two years. Doesn’t mean we can’t have fun and learn a bit more about data visualization and some great movies along the way. We’ll just have to wait and see what the Academy has in store. Until then, anyone want to lend us their Netflix password so we can finally watch Roma? We’ve heard really good things.