The Academy is not one to look at box office numbers when it chooses a year’s best picture winner, but I think it’s interesting to see how the general public’s taste intersects with theirs.
This year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated 9 movies for the Best Picture award. Let’s see how they stack against each other when it comes to box office numbers, from the least popular to the most, domestic figures and no inflation adjustment (since we’re talking about just one year here).
9. Nebraska $16.5 million
The black and white drama was the least popular of the nominees, which probably had to do more with its limited release and lack of mass appeal. We’ve had similarly low grossing winners in the past (The Hurt Locker did $17 million) yet I don’t think this one is anywhere among the favorites. Nebraska has 6 nominations.
8. Her $24 million
I’ve seen some polls around the internet where this was in the lead, so it must be some people’s favorite. Unfortunately for Spike Jonze this is not one of the Academy favorites either (despite its 5 nominations), although he might end up taking an award home by the end of the night (Original Screenplay).
7. Dallas Buyers Club $24.7 million
Also with 6 nominations, Dallas Buyers Club has at the very least the Best Actor award in the bag for Matthew McConaughey’s incredible performance. I mean the man lost 47 pounds for that role, talk about dedication.
6. Philomena $32.8 million
The Judi Dench and Steve Coogan drama has 4 nominations and made a surprisingly large amount of money. It grossed $82.2 million worldwide on a $12 million budget, so it’s both artistically accomplished and profitable.
5. 12 Years a Slave $49.1 million
We’re stepping into the big leagues now and while 12 Years a Slave might not look like a huge hit, considering its release schedule and the nature of the story told here, $49.1 million domestically and $128.1 million worldwide is fantastic. In my opinion the race for the Best Picture award is between this and Gravity. 12 Years a Slave has a total of 9 nominations.
4. Captain Phillips $106.9 million
Captain Phillips is a great movie and Tom Hanks was absolutely snubbed for best actor. That being said, another year maybe this might have had a better chance, in 2013 it has close to zero.
3. The Wolf of Wall Street $112.9 million
I might be in the minority here but I found this to be the most entertaining of the nominated movies. While Gravity might have had my pulse racing for 90 minutes, The Wolf of Wall Street had me glued to the screen for 3 hours watching Jordan Belfort’s drug ridden rise and fall. When the credits started rolling I wanted more, 3 hours was not enough. I became addicted to this extremely well crafted and funny cautionary tale.
2. American Hustle $144.2 million
I’ve learned to expect that David O. Russell can do no wrong. Between the underappreciated Three Kings, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and now American Hustle, the man has an eye for great stories. But this is not his year, it will be one day.
1. Gravity $269.3 million
Do I think Gravity should win? No, but I certainly won’t be upset if it does. There have been much less deserving movies in the past that have taken the Best Picture award. For its technical achievements alone Gravity is pretty much guaranteed 4 or 5 Oscars on Sunday.
I looked behind a bit and found out the last time the top grossing Best Picture nominee won the award was in 2008, Slumdog Millionaire. So statistically speaking, that doesn’t bode well for Gravity. But at the end of the day it’s all guesswork and who knows, by the time you read this 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle or even Wolf of Wall Street (one can only dream) could be the winner, right? Neah, it’s probably 55-45 between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity.
Who do you think should win or should have won?