Oscars 2012 Box Office Numbers & Oscar by Statistics

Two things to look at in terms of the Oscars. One is the obvious — how successful they are financially. And the second is something I came up with last year that I thought was fun. We’ll get into what that is in a bit.

But first, let’s just take a moment to see how the Best Picture nominees did financially this year. Some people like to think that box office factors into a film’s chance at winning Best Picture. I — do not subscribe to such a notion, though I’m sure it does help. Specifically in terms of nominations (cough Blind Side cough). (That cough was totally fake, by the way.)

So we’ll glance, see what it all means. Then get into the weird little statistics that I love to look at that are only legitimate if they work and just stupid if they don’t. (Statistics are awesome.)

Just to get into a bit of history —

Last year, The Artist was the seventh of the nine Best Picture nominees in terms of Box Office revenue. The Help was #1. Then The Descendants and War Horse. None of whom seem to really have had a legitimate shot at taking Best Picture.

In 2010, The King’s Speech was fourth on the list of ten. Toy Story 3, Inception and True Grit were ahead of it.

In 2009, The Hurt Locker was eighth of ten (and I believe this is total gross. It’s not even counting before nominations, after nominations, at the time of the ceremony. This is just — here’s what they all made. Since I could go in and look at the minutiae of what they all made before they were nominated and stuff, but — most of these made all their money before the ceremony anyway. It’s just a guideline). Avatar was of course number one. Up and The Blind Side were 2 and 3. And Basterds was fourth, believe it or not.

In 2008, Slumdog Millionaire was first of five, narrowly beating out Benjamin Button (though there, the film made a lot of money post-awards, so in actuality it was second).

In 2007, No Country for Old Men was second to Juno.

In 2006, The Departed was first.

In 2005, Crash was second. Brokeback Mountain was first.

In 2004, Million Dollar Baby was technically third (it was behind Ray until after it won Best Picture). The Aviator was first.

In 2003, Return of the King was clearly #1.

In 2002, Chicago was second behind Two Towers.

In 2001, A Beautiful Mind was second behind Fellowship.

I don’t really see a correlation beween the two, personally. People say “Oscar loves a hit,” but honestly there are so many factors involved — I think Oscar likes when the film they want is a hit, but it’s clearly not a prerequisite.

So here’s how the Box Office figures look (as of today, February 8th, 2012) for each of the Best Picture nominees (domestic only):

1. Lincoln, $171.5 million

2. Django Unchained, $151.9 million

3. Les Misérables, $142.2 million

4. Argo, $121 million

5. Life of Pi, $106.6 million

6. Silver Linings Playbook, $82.3 million

7. Zero Dark Thirty, $78.6 million

8. Beasts of the Southern Wild, $11.9 million

9. Amour, $2.4 million

At this point in the race, I think we all feel like it’s Argo‘s to lose, with Lincoln being the major competition. If either wins, nobody is surprised. Silver Linings Playbook seems to be the major upset horse, but that, to me, seems to be taking that Descendants spot this year, a film that everybody loves but nobody really wants to vote for. I still feel like this is a two horse race. Argo has swept all the major awards (but then again, so did The Social Network), but Lincoln has everything else going for it. It’s #1. Argo is #4. This is why I don’t think Box Office really matters. I consider almost all of these films to be hits.

But what is interesting to me about this list is that five movies on it have made $100 million. That’s encouraging to me. It makes me think that the American public doesn’t want to just see bullshit, and that they will spring for some quality every now and again.

But anyway — I’m not sure how much Box Office influences the Best Picture race as much as the Best Picture race influences Box Office. I just don’t see it, but some people like to use it, so I’ll mention it. I didn’t really have an article for today and am working on some other stuff, so I figured I could just throw these things together and be quick about it.

The other thing I wanted to talk about was this thing I mentioned last year that I called “Oscar by Statistics.” Basically it was me going, “I like random statistics, so let’s check this one out.”

I went through over the years and looked at all the major categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress) and said, “Okay, which position on the lists has won the most?” That is, when you put the categories alphabetically, which spot has won the most Oscars? It’s a completely arbitrary statistic, and yet it’s fun as hell. I did it because, growing up, before the Kentucky Derby, my home newspaper (the New York Daily News) would put up percentages of which post positions won the most. So I figured, “Fuck it, let’s try that with the Oscars.” So I did.

Here’s what I found out:

By the way, I’ve updated this to include all of last year’s winners as well:

For Best Picture:

#1 — 22 times

#2 — 12 times

#3 — 15 times

#4 — 15 times

#5 — 15 times

#6 — 1 time

#7 — Never

#8 — 2 times

#9 — Never

#10 — 2 times

So the film that is the first alphabetical nominee on the Best Picture list has won 22 of the now 84 times. The Artist was the first alphabetical nominee last year. This year, if that statistic means anything (it clearly doesn’t), Amour would win Best Picture. Here’s what this year’s Best Picture list looks like:



Beasts of the Southern Wild

Django Unchained

Les Misérables

Life of Pi


Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty

So, by statistics alone, here’s the probability the films will win:

1. Amour

2. (tie) Beasts of the Southern Wild

3. (tie) Django Unchained

4. (tie) Les Misérables

5. Argo

6. Silver Linings Playbook

7. Life of Pi

8. (tie) Lincoln

9. (tie) Zero Dark Thirty

What I find most interesting is that if Lincoln wins, then it’ll mark the first time a film from the #7 spot has won Best Picture. Not that we’ve had a lot of 5+ nominee categories, but it’s still interesting.

For Best Actor:

#1 – 23 times

#2 – 21 times

#3 – 17 times

#4 – 10 times

#5 – 14 times

And here are this year’s Best Actor nominees:

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Denzel Washington, Flight

By statistics alone, Bradley Cooper is a slim favorite over Daniel Day-Lewis. But the margin is so slim, it doesn’t really matter.

Right now, the statistics say:

1. Cooper

2. Day-Lewis

3. Jackman

4. Washington

5. Phoenix

Clearly Daniel Day-Lewis is winning this, so we’re getting pretty close to a tie for most victorious spot in this one.

For Best Actress:

#1 – 18 times

#2 – 21 times

#3 – 13 times

#4 – 15 times

#5 – 16 times

#6 – 1 time

Blame it on Mary Pickford for that #6 spot being there.

This year’s nominees are:

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Naomi Watts, The Impossible

Which, is you listen to the statistics, here’s the probability:

1. Jennifer Lawrence

2. Chastain

3. Watts

4. Wallis

5. Riva

That’s pretty close, actually. Some people are predicting a Riva upset. I don’t see that happening just yet, but I think she might get some votes.

For Best Supporting Actor:

#1 – 18 times

#2 – 17 times

#3 – 13 times

#4 – 18 times

#5 – 9 times

This year’s nominees:

Alan Arkin, Argo

Robet De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook

Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master

Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

The statistics say:

1. (tie) Alan Arkin

2. (tie) Tommy Lee Jones

3. De Niro

4. Hoffman

5. Waltz

Aside from the Arkin thing, that’s pretty fucking good. Jones seems your clear favorite right now, and I’d put De Niro as a probable second choice (probably). I don’t know. It’s all up in the air right now.

For Best Supporting Actress:

#1 – 11 times

#2 – 15 times

#3 – 17 times

#4 – 15 times

#5 – 17 times

This year’s nominees:

Amy Adams, The Master

Sally Field, Lincoln

Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables

Helen Hunt, The Sessions

Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

Statistics say:

1. (tie) Sally Field

2. (tie) Helen Hunt

3. (tie) Anne Hathaway

4. (tie) Jacki Weaver

5. Amy Adams

This one is so close it almost doesn’t even matter. They’re all 15 or 17. That’s basically a diluted statistic. We all know Hathaway is winning anyway.

And for Best Director:

#1 – 23 times

#2 – 13 times

#3 – 14 times

#4 – 19 times

#5 – 15 times

The nominees:

Michael Haneke, Amour

Ang Lee, Life of Pi

David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

The statistics say:

1. Haneke

2. Spielberg

3. Zeitlin

4. Russell

5. Lee

Honestly, though… not that far off. I think Spielberg takes it, but Haneke is right there.

So that’s what the Oscar by Statistics thing is. Almost totally meaningless, yet kind of fun to look at, just in case it does matches up.

And like I said, it was a choice between this or no article today. So you got this.

Tomorrow I do something else that’s pretty fun, and then BAFTAs on Sunday.


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