Are the Oscars becoming more elitist?
The gap between the Academy and audiences is getting larger and larger: since 2004, no film among the 15 most popular movies of the year has been awarded with best picture, whereas this used to be common. This led the Academy to announce the creation of an award for \”Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film\”, before renouncing a few weeks later.
In order to visualize and explain this trend, I have analyzed the success at the box office of Oscar-nominated films since eighty years. I have also looked at the genres of both popular and Academy-nominated movies, and found that the increasing gap between the Oscars and audiences could be explained by a change in the taste of the public, as well as by the Academy\’s inherent biases.
What makes this project innovative?
To my knowledge, this is the largest study of the popularity of Oscars-nominated films, ranging from 1940 to 2019 and for six categories: best picture, directing, cinematography, original and adapted screenplay, and visual effects. I also discovered some very interesting insights about changes in the genres associated with popular films, as well as the Oscars' biases. The readers are gradually introduced to the charts through scrolling, and presented with significant examples relating to the issue. Also, I wanted them to be able to engage with the data by themselves, which is why I included an exploratory side to the project: people can hover over an element to look for a specific film or get more information about a data point.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
According to Google Analytics, the article attracted more than 600 unique readers. They spent an average of 4 minutes and 45 seconds on the page, which means they went through most of the story (despite its length), and actually engaged with it. On Facebook, more than 50 people engaged with the post: 13 people commented and 14 people shared the article, which is significantly higher than the average number of shares on posts by Slate.fr.
Source and methodology
All data was scraped from the IMDb database. I collected all the films nominated at the Oscars in six main categories, as well as the top movies of each year at the box office. I then compared both those lists to get some insight about the popularity of Oscars-nominated films. I also collected, for each of these films, associated genres and box office figures in the US (adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index of the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
All the scraping was made using Node.js. I used Tableau to prototype charts, before switching to D3.js for the final visualization. For the scrolling behavior, I used the Scrollama.js library released by The Pudding.
Members of WeDoData: Karen Bastien / François Prosper / Victor Schmitt / Clément Thorez / Nicolas Bœuf / Anthony Veyssiere