Oscars Best Picture 2008

Oscar Best Picture Race: Critics vs. The Academy

This year's best picture nominees

With the February 22nd date of this year's Academy Awards ceremony fast approaching, it's time to take a quick look at this year's best picture race—as well as those from the past two decades—to see where critics and Oscar voters diverge.

First, as a recap, here are this year's best picture nominees:

If Boyhood captures this year's best picture trophy as widely expected, it will mark the second year in a row that Academy voters have opted for the year's best-reviewed film. That, however, is not the norm. More often than not, the best picture Oscar does not go to the critics' favorite movie of the year. In fact, those films don't always get nominated by the Academy. And, as you can see below in our quick look back at the last two decades of best picture nominees, having the best reviews among just the nominated films isn't even enough to guarantee a win.

Previous years: The last 20 best picture races

According to the data below, the year's overall highest-scoring (i.e., best-reviewed) film ...

  • Has won best picture in just 3 of the 20 years (15%)
  • Has been nominated but did not win best picture in 7 of the 20 years (35%)
  • Was not nominated for best picture in 10 of the 20 years (50%)

Though it does not apply this year (since Boyhood, the year's highest-scoring film, was nominated), in the 10 years when the high-scoring overall film was not under consideration for best picture, the Oscar went to the highest-scoring nominee just 3 times (30%). The Oscar has actually been awarded to the lowest-scoring (worst-reviewed) nominee three times as well.

Since the best picture nominee pool was expanded six years ago, no film below fourth place among the nominees (ranked by Metascore) has won the Oscar. And, in the same period, the lowest winning Metascore was Argo's 86. In other words, if you were thinking of picking, The Imitation Game, or in your Oscar pool, you may want to reconsider.

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Oscars (2008)
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