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Oscar Formula experiment - expanded in time

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Seth Paxton, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

    Nov 5, 1998
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    Following the discussion of the Oscar "formula" I've been using for the Oscar threads the last few years, I was asked about applying it to other years.

    This is a thread for that and discussion of it, to keep the main Oscar thread less cluttered. There isn't much more to update for the numbers this year, so there won't be much to post on it in the other thread anyway.

    So the first goal was to cover the Star Wars and Raging Bull years that people asked about. To do that I basically decided to just take the same approach I currently have going and apply it to the years surrounding those films.

    I took film's released from 75 to 85 (11 years) and ran them through. As I mentioned in the Oscar discussion thread, there were issues that were obvious right from the start. No PGA, no SAGs, WGA had 3 categories at one point, GG dropped the Score category one year, Oscar used to have a ADAPTED score award, etc. The number of noms bounced around a bit for some things.

    Then there was the whole foreign film or US film thing with the Globes. Both Chariots of Fire and Ghandi basically got no serious respect from the Globes. They were picked as the Best Foreign film, but Chariots had zero noms otherwise, despite getting respect from the DGA and Oscars. It's one thing to not win, but to not even get nominations seems odd since the film obviously was repected enough to win FF.

    Atlantic City that year, and then Ghandi the next faced similar low to zero nominations with the GG. This is one thing when I say that voting styles change, what people view as acceptable to vote for changes. There were also less Oscar categories which made it tough for films to get 10 noms and perhaps kept a few films from having the most noms.

    This is not an attempt just to excuse away some misses, just to say that this wasn't really apples to apples here. Also, I have yet to plug in the CURRENT numbers to these older years. The scoring for this was done based on the noms/wins that the 75-85 winners had. I want to try the other though it makes less sense to me for that to have results, and I was just more interested in this.

    I also noticed a disparity in which categories carried weight then vs now. S. Actor was tied very strongly to Best Pix versus today.

    Okay, so what I found was that it picked 8 of 11 right. It missed on - Chariots of Fire, Annie Hall, and Rocky. Rocky is the one film that I think would have been picked if the PGA were included, even though the SAG cast would likely have still gone to Network.

    Bottom line - here are the numbers, with lower overall scores since there are far less categories now.

    16.16 Cuckoo
    10.22 Dog Day
    6.79 Barry Lyndon
    6.79 Jaws
    6.25 Nashville

    14.10 Rocky
    14.89 Network
    9.97 President's Men
    5.95 Bound for Glory
    4.61 Taxi Driver

    9.64 Annie Hall
    14.19 Turning Point
    12.92 Julia
    9.61 Star Wars
    6.98 Goodbye Girl

    13.67 Deer Hunter
    12.16 Coming Home
    11.67 Midnight Express
    9.93 Heaven Can Wait
    6.58 Unmarried Woman

    14.31 Kramer vs Kramer
    9.97 Apoc Now
    7.64 Breaking Away
    7.04 All That Jazz
    4.83 Norma Rae

    13.16 Ordinary People
    11.04 Raging Bull
    10.13 Elephant Man
    7.81 Coal Miner's Daughter
    3.79 Tess

    5.00 Chariots of Fire
    15.65 Reds
    13.83 On Golden Pond
    6.73 Raiders of the Lost Ark
    6.52 Atlantic City

    12.61 Ghandi
    11.20 Tootsie
    10.06 ET
    7.95 The Verdict
    7.19 The Missing

    14.55 Terms of Endearment
    7.40 Tender Mercies
    5.97 The Right Stuff
    5.55 The Dresser
    4.83 Big Chill

    14.13 Amadeus
    11.76 Killing Fields
    10.27 Passage to India
    7.74 Places in the Heart
    5.70 Soldier's Story

    13.85 Out of Africa
    11.58 Witness
    11.34 Prizzi's Honor
    9.83 Color Purple
    4.31 Kiss/Spider Woman

    Here are my thoughts on the results. First, hard to tell with Annie Hall, but maybe it was a split vote situation. However, you'll note that Star Wars was NOT it's main competition at all.

    And yet I would ask this question - at the time Julia and Turnning Point were getting a TON of accolades, yet doesn't it seem like the Academy came a lot closer to picking the best, most lasting film of the bunch? Yes, SW is even more popular, but between Annie Hall and SW I think Hall would be considered the more artistic of the two while still remaining a comedy that is accessible to the masses.

    In any case, I can't imagine that adding the PGA, SAGs, and so forth would change this scoring enough to make a difference. This was the one, clear, formula buster.

    Chariots of Fire seems like a film that WOULD have been high in scoring if only it had been considered eligible for it. I don't know that the Globes had a rule excluding FF, but with as well as it was nom'd with the Oscars it seems very peculiar that it was only up for the GG FF award.

    I consider this a bad example year period because of this. This is an example of a change in attitudes in what sort of film is eligible I think. I don't see this happening today, where a winner was totally left out of the Globe noms (yet won Best FF with the Globes).

    Ordinary People DID beat Raging Bull by this method. I think some people expected otherwise. But just by going over the awards it was pretty clear that Ordinary People was a big critical favorite that year.

    Rocky to Network. I won't lie, Network was very strong with its acting noms and so forth. However, in the current format acting gets less points than turned up with this version, so its possible that Rocky would win under the modern system. Also Rocky seems like a PGA winner type which would have helped even in the face of the SAGs going to Network (which they would have).

    How the Categories turned out -

    Well the "must haves" were noms for Oscar Screenplay and Director, plus the DGA nom.

    In the .909 area were the GG noms for Screenplay and Director.

    .818 added Most Oscar Noms, the DGA win, and Oscar Editing nom.

    The most worthless wins were the GG Score and Oscar Supporting Actress (.091) and then their respective noms (1.82) plus the Oscar nom for S. Actress (1.82). You couldn't put too much stock in winning it all just because you got those nominations. They were basically signs that you weren't going to win Best Pix.

    Compare to today, must haves are the Noms from the Oscars and Guilds for Editing and Directing, plus the Globe Directing nom. The ACE nom used to carry much less weight. Director remains critical. You don't get the nom there and you just don't win.

    Other important .8+ cateories now: Most Noms, 10+ Noms, GG Best Pix noms and wins, GG Dir nom, the PGA nom, Cinematography nom from Oscar and ASC, Screenplay nom from GG, Oscar and WGA, and Score noms from the Globes and Oscars.

    One thing to keep in mind is that the affect of the GG Best Pix choice was hurt by Chariots of Fire and Ghandi. Otherwise the GG Drama won the Oscar every year except when Annie Hall won Best Comedy. I could perhaps consider Chariots of Fire and Ghandi GG "Best Pix" winners since they did win Best FF.

    Art Direction, Cinematography and Score are a lot more important to a film's chances today than they used to be.

    The weakest categories now are: GG Supporting Actor and Actress win (0.00) meaning that if your favorite film won either of those categories, your film is in trouble and obviously Closer won't be changing that anytime soon. [​IMG]

    Then we have a real barn burner, another .00 category (meaning no film recently has had this and won) and a .182. M$Baby got the SAG S. Actor win (.00) but Aviator got the SAG S. Actress win (.182). Something has to give. Right now the formula agrees with itself and says that while its rare, a film can be Best Pix with a SAG S. Actress win which it indicates.

    Other weak ones are: GG Best Actress win (.218 - M$Baby), GG Best Actor (.245 - Aviator), and the SAG wins for Best Actor and Actress (.273) which is more bad news for M$Baby and I'm pretty sure Ray won't alter the affect of this either.

    Sideways fans, don't get too excited, SAG Cast comes in with a .364, but Aviator is stuck with the GG Score and its .364.

    Actor and S. Actor were so much more important then than now, but otherwise the similarites are pretty strong. S. Actress has never been very closely tied to Best Pix winners and GG Score winners remain low on the list.

    Okay, that thesis is all I have for now. I'll keep messing with some variations on this when I get a chance. For now I want to spend some time seeing some more 2004 Oscar films that I missed.
  2. Tino

    Tino Executive Producer

    Apr 19, 1999
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    Metro NYC
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    Very impressive Seth. Interesting results. Thanks for the time and effort.[​IMG]
  3. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

    Oct 26, 2001
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    But just by going over the awards it was pretty clear that Ordinary People was a big critical favorite that year.

    It is an outstanding movie, one of my all time favorites, actually. Like Dances With Wolves, people like to slag on it because it won the Oscar instead of a Scorsese masterwork, but both Ordinary People and Dances with Wolves were outstanding movies in their own right.
  4. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

    Feb 8, 2001
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    I found it interesting, as a (I believe) a relatively film literate person to go down those list and see what films I either seen, know because their reputation preceeds them, or I've at least heard of them mentioned with respect and they're on some sort of ephemereal 'to watch' list filed in my head (e.g. The Goodbye Girl for Dreyfuss performance)

    1975 - hell of a year, probably the best of the entire eleven years, five for five major films, though I've not yet seen Lyndon or Nashville

    1976 - Another exceptional year, I'm glad I didn't have to vote this year because three of my top thirty or so films on the AFI list are in this year, three absolutely phenomenal all time great films, Rocky, Network, and Taxi Driver. I'd probably eventually go with Taxi Driver, though I could easily pick Rocky I've heard of Bound for Glory, but not seen it, and President's men is a nice film but will become more and more dated in the future simply because audiences of my generation and later don't have the vocabulary of experiencing the Nixon years firsthand to appreciate fully what happens to him and why that's so insignificant to the rest of the film...

    1977 - A very weak year, two great significant films, one film still mentioned for it's strong performance (Goodbye Girl) and two I've never even heard of.

    1978 - Extremely weak year for me. One exceptional film that's worthwhile only because it gets Christerpher Walken to the point of saying "Yeah..." which manages to redeem the rest of the film. i've heard of Midnight Express and Heaven can Wait but they ding very faint bells. The other two, never heard of.

    1979 - Strong year, I'd say two big films and three strong films, I've not seen All that Jazz or Breaking Away but they don't get nearly the level of buzz that Kramer v. Kramer does. Norma Rae I liked quite a lot.

    1980 - mirror image of 1979, two big films (one giant) and three strong films -- Tess is hard film though, about the equivalent of _The Hours_ I'd say.

    1981 - three to four big films (Reds I"m not sure on, but its a title I run across again and again). Atlantic City is strong and I come across it somewhat regularly.

    1982 - Three big films, I've ran across Missing once or twice and Verdict is completely a blank for me.

    1983 - I would say there is one big film here, Terms of Endearment (absolutely can't wait to watch that), two strong movies Right Stuff (interested in seeing eventuallY) and Big Chill (thoroughly enjoyed) and I've herad of Tender Mercies at least once, but the Dresser, nothing.

    1984 - a meh kind of year, Amadeus is big, passage to India is difficult enough to just be strong and I"ve heard of Killing Fields and Places in the Heart, but Soldier's Story is another one of the top five films of oscar I've never heard of.

    1985 - three big films, Out of Africa, Witness, Color Purple, and two strong films, This is the first of the eighties years that I want to actively seek out and watch all of the nominated films, and it's the only year of these eleven that I've not seen any of!


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