The Oscars: How to Predict the Best Picture Winner

  • Comments: ↓ 25 user comments
  • Publish Date: February 4, 2010

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:

2010 Best Picture Nominees
Nominees Ranked by Score User Score   Nominees Ranked by Score User Score
1 Up 8.9   6 District 9 7.8
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

User score is an average of votes cast by Metacritic site visitors, on a scale of 0 (bad) to 10 (good). Scores as of February 2, 2010.

Recent Best Picture Winners
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

* Rankings are among the five best picture nominees that year.

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. ...

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (25)

  • Boozlebaum  

    It is still dumbfounding that Crash won best picture. What crack was the academy communally smoking that year?

  • Dee  

    What a complete shambles!! I know James Cameron isn't the most liked person in the industry and that Avatar cost sooooo much, but good god it certainly deserved to win Best Picture. These awards should be left entirely for the public to decide, via online and telephone votes, as well as results of global ticket sales. I appreciate everyone has their own personal taste in films and that some will and won't agree with the 2010 results, but there's no doubt that with the impact Avatar had on the viewing public and how greatly accepted it was - it would have won hands down if it was a public vote worldwide, instead of being left for an `old skool` academy to decide. Will we ever know the complete 100% truth why The Hurt Locker cleaned-up that night, particulary for the major awards (Best Picture & Best Director), I doubt it, although as David also suggested above, probably that it was female director and current event.

  • Joshua  

    David Johnson are you serious? Of course avatar is a green-loving fairy tale it is telling us that we need to fix the earth because we are killing it slowly and as for anti- America...where did you get that from? Some a-hole who's blog you read? Avatar is not anti-America it is anti-destroy the earth so we can live on it for another couple thousand years or so. Avatar didn't win because the director of the hurt locker is a woman and it is about a current event that's it, that's the only reasons it won period.

  • Yan  

    District 9 is underrated

  • Dee  

    Ps. I also agree with Mikey's and Mark Hansson's comments above.
    Also, as others have stated, what a great informative site. Such a clear detailed breakdown so well structured, a brilliant job!!!
    Now saved as one of my `favorites`! Cheers!!!!!

  • Dee  

    "And the award for Best Picture goes to............James Cameron for Avatar"! It's gotta be `in the bag` for Avatar. Totally mind blowing effects and has opened up a whole new era for future film making. I've been to the cinema twice to see it (with my family) and each time it actually got a standing ovation from the viewing public - in a packed house.

    Such box office revenue gives a crystal clear indication of the impact it's had, and continues to have on the public, with many eagerly awaiting Avatar's release on to Blu-Ray & DVD just to watch it again and again.

    I did watch the Hurt Locker and enjoyed it, although couldn't watch it again. Avatar however, I could watch over and over, including others I have talked to about the film.

    The Academy shouldn't `play it safe` and just opt for the previous awards pattern from other awards (Critics, Baftas etc). It should maintain its own completely independant view and credibility and let the award go to the true deserving winners, to include BP for the awe-inspiring, exciting, jaw-dropping `Avatar`.

    Although I strongly believe that Avatar should win both Best Picture and Best Director, as well as finish with the most awards that night (for Best Effects, Editing etc), it'll probably win Best Picture, with Best Director actually going to K.Bigelow. Predictions for the major awards:
    Best Picture: Avatar
    Best Director: The Hurt Locker

    (Most awards for the night: Avatar)

  • Conor  

    District 9 is the best movie from 2010. It totally mops the floor with avatar pony tail.

  • Alden  

    As incredible as the effects were in Avatar, I don't think that should warrant a Best Picture oscar. The plot was far from anything special. If it's going to be between Avatar and The Hurt Locker, its the latter that deserves it: original plot, and fantastic acting. Though if I had my way, Inglorious Basterds would get this award. It's better than both of those movies in my opinion.

  • Marek  

    thank you metacritic...this features add so much value to this site...unbelievably good!
    Very well thought-out and written. Just the right mix between facts, numbers and text and opinion.
    Metacritic just gets better and better...

  • Mike F.  

    "Avatar" was so bad it did not even deserve a nomination. The Academy cannot lower itself to pick the best film of the year based on what the general public thought of it. While it looked spectacular, Avatar has nothing else going for it. "The Hurt Locker," on the other hand, had an amazing script, powerful characters, and most amazingly, portrayed the war in Iraq with minimal bias or intended message. "Lord of the Rings" is incomparable to "Avatar" as LOTR, besides looking spectacular, had a great story, script, and acting to go along with it. LOTR deserved to win. The American public has consistently been a terrible indicator for what a great movie is. It is the same public who spent millions upon millions of dollars on movies like "Spiderman 3" and "Indiana Jones 4." Simply because a film garners a lot of box office proceeds does not mean it deserves to win best picture, let alone be nominated for it.

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