In 2009, the Academy expanded the best picture field from 5 to 10 nominees, after acclaimed films like The Dark Knight failed to gain a nomination. Snubs are a common conversation topic around the time of the ceremony every year, but Capital News Service found that many nominated films could win the top prize if they were released in a different year.
CNS examined the ratings of every movie ever nominated for the best picture Oscar to determine what movies face especially adverse odds to win the coveted prize.
The 1993 race for the Oscar was the hardest year to earn a nomination. Films from 1993 had a higher rating than more than 60 percent of films ever nominated, making it the toughest year to make it into the nominee field.
In the World Cup, a highly competitive field in the group stage is referred to as a “Group of Death.” Often, talented teams won’t make it past the group stage, despite being better than other teams that advance from other groups.
Using that same idea, CNS analyzed every Oscar-nominated movie ever to determine what years were the hardest to win the Oscar, and find the Academy’s “Year of Death.”
Taking scores from RottenTomatoes, IMDb, and MetaCritic, CNS created an average score for each of the 545 movies that have been nominated for the Oscar for best picture since 1928.
One candidate for “Year of Death” honors: the closest Oscar race based on today’s ratings, 1982. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was the highest rated movie that year, earning a score of 85. Dustin Hoffman’s Tootsie earned the lowest rating of 1982’s nominees with just under 83. Gandhi ended up winning the award.
Another “Year of Death” candidate: 1993, when the nominees from averaged a score of 88.45, the highest of any year. Only 35 percent of all movies ever nominated scored high enough to earn a nomination in 1993. Schindler’s List won best picture at the 66th Academy Awards and tied for the third highest score ever.
The lowest rated movie to ever win is also the worst movie ever nominated: 1929’s The Broadway Melody received a score under 40 and won at the second ever Oscars. It should be noted that scores for all films are from modern fan and critics perspectives, and don’t necessarily represent the opinions of the film at the time of its release.
The 1970s were the hardest decade to win or earn a nomination. The 70s saw the highest average rating for winning films and for nominees, as well as the highest rated movie in the entire table, The Godfather.
The second highest average score for a year came in 1975, which was also the second closest race ever. In 1960, The Apartment scored a record 40.83 points higher than the lowest rated movie of that year–The Sundowners.
Modern perspectives on older films differ from the time of many ceremonies. Half of the time, the highest rated movie does not win. The lowest rated movie of the year has surprisingly won 14 times.