What do user reviews tell us?
Here's how Metacritic users rated this year's ten nominees for best picture, followed by the average user scores for past Oscar winners:
|Nominees Ranked by Score||User Score||Nominees Ranked by Score||User Score|
|2||An Education||8.4||7||Inglourious Basterds||7.3|
|3||Avatar||8.2||8||The Blind Side||6.6|
|The Hurt Locker||8.2||Up in the Air||6.6|
|Precious||8.2||10||A Serious Man||6.4|
|Year||Winner||User Score||Nominee Rank *||Scores of All Nominees|
|2009||Slumdog Millionaire||7.9||1st||7.9 - 7.5 - 7.4 - 7.1 - 6.5|
|2008||No Country for Old Men||6.9||5th||8.5 - 7.2 - 7.1 - 7.0 - 6.9|
|2007||The Departed||7.7||2nd||8.1 - 7.7 - 7.4 - 6.1 - 5.4|
|2006||Crash||6.7||5th||8.2 - 7.8 - 7.4 - 7.0 - 6.7|
|2005||Million Dollar Baby||7.8||3rd||8.8 - 8.4 - 7.8 - 6.8 - 6.1|
|2004||Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King||8.6||1st||8.6 - 7.2 - 6.4 - 5.6 - 5.5|
|2003||Chicago||7.9||4th||8.9 - 8.6 - 8.5 - 7.9 - 6.7|
|2002||A Beautiful Mind||6.7||4th||8.9 - 8.4 - 7.4 - 6.7 - 6.1|
|2001||Gladiator||8.6||1st||8.6 - 8.0 - 7.5 - 7.4 - 7.0|
|2000||American Beauty||7.7||4th||9.0 - 8.6 - 8.5 - 7.7 - 7.1|
You don't have to be a statistician to notice that there is absolutely no correlation between user scores and Oscar winners. The only conclusion we can draw here is that Metacritic site visitors tend to have different tastes than Academy members. (We can also draw the conclusion that the only people who enjoyed Crash were Academy members, since it finished last among the nominees with both users and critics.)
One note of interest: Up in the Air, once considered a heavy best picture favorite, currently has a user score of just 6.6. Although there certainly have been nominees with even lower user grades in the past, no best picture winner has had a score lower than 6.7 -- and the winners' average user score is about 7.7. While Air's score is still generally positive, it indicates that there are a number of users who aren't high on the film, which could be a bad sign if Academy voters feel the same way.
Perhaps Metacritic users are too narrow a group. Let's expand our universe a bit to all North American moviegoers, and see if box office performance can help predict the eventual winners. ...