What Are Movies Made Of – The Oscars (Pt. 3)

If you have been following us for the last few weeks, you are probably looking forward to the final post on the Oscars and origin of films – don’t worry, we won’t let you down! If you haven’t, I suggest you quickly catch up here and here.

The previous posts were a descriptive form of analysis, I would say. One can argue that it doesn’t mean anything that in 40% of cases single nominees from a specific origin category result in an Academy Award – but that’s the essence of statistics. For this post I want to suggest a more complex measure, and it can be argued that it isn’t a good one all together.

Origin Strength

For me, this series is like a crusade. I found it unfair that whenever there is a candidate (especially in acting awards) whose role is based on real life events, it seems as they automatically win. But when I started looking at the numbers, I found more interesting data. I am referring to the racial issue mentioned in the first post. This says more about the world than any analysis of win share.

Having said that, I still want to find what effect it has for a film to be “based on true events”. The challenge was to segregate the effect of the origin of the film from other parameters. These parameters can be of a cinematic nature: how many awards it is nominated for? How many awards did it win in other categories? And data such as previous success at the Oscars for the film crew, length of the film and more.

But as we saw, there are also pure statistical influences which need to be considered in this case. If there is more than one candidate from the same origin, the chances automatically are higher. Also, not every year includes candidates from all types (besides Art). These two factors need to be considered when trying to evaluate the “power” of the film origin. I calculated the chance a film has after eliminating the two.

How Does It Work?

Per each origin type (Art, Movie, Real Events and Original) in every award the following calculation was performed:

Sum of all nominees in that origin type divided by the number of ceremonies with at least one nominee from that type. This was divided by the average number of candidates for that award along the years (usually 5, might vary).

This gives what I believe is the actual chance for a type to win in a category. This number I subtracted from the actual wins divided by the number of ceremonies with at least one nominee from that type. This is the winning ratio in those cases where there was a nominee from that type. The bigger the result, the more effect the type has.

The following charts show for each type the result for each award.

Success rate - Art

The prominent figure here is the success of directors in “Art”-based films, similar to what we saw in the single candidate situation. What is also noticeable is that the costume and makeup, which also had much success in single candidate, have a negative effect here. It is possible that when more than one film is based on an “Art” form, it impairs the success for all categories. If only A Beautiful Mind  was based on art and not a true story, it would have been an ironical explanation.

Success rate - Film

This is one of the more interesting charts in the series. From this we can understand that being based on a film has almost no positive effect on any of the awards, and when it does, it isn’t significant. This doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with the conservative taste of the Academy. Come back in 20 years to see if this has changed.

Success rate - RealEvents

It is apparent from this chart that for most acting awards, it’s very good to be based on real events. It will require some deeper digging into the nominees of supporting actors to understand why it isn’t going with the flow.

Success rate - Original

Once again we see that being original won’t necessarily help at the Oscars. The lowest number of positive success, and also not too significant. And to directors who want to win an Oscar, I can only say one thing: Don’t Make an Original Movie  – It’s a Trap.



Success rate - All

Even though I entered this project somewhat obsessed with the success of real event films at the Oscars, I come out of it with a fresh point of view on other things. I am especially fascinated by the performance of “Original” films. One would expect the Academy of Motion Picture Arts to appreciate original films; reality shows otherwise. It may be since the juries still hold old fashioned concepts of cinema and what it ought to be, or perhaps the films themselves aren’t “there” yet. Looking into the performance of “original” films over the years can tell us whether there’s a trend of change in recent years or it has remained more or less the same for more than 80 years.


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