Using IMDB to predict the 2001 Oscars…

Hypothesis: 1) The Oscars are essentially a populist enterprise that reflect the basic passions of the audience rather more than (perhaps) they should. 2) The IMDB is a similarly populist enterprise. 3) It might be plausible to compare the top rated films on the IMDB with previous “Best Film” nominated movies. 4) If there was a significant degree of similarity, then we might be able to predict the 2001 “Best Film” nominations.

Let us first turn to the nominations for last year’s Oscars. These were: American Beauty (winner), The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider and The Sixth Sense.

The IMDB ratings for the same year are as follows: American Beauty (winner: 8.7/10, 31532 votes), Toy Story 2 (8.3/10, 9645 votes), The Sixth Sense (8.3/10, 26850 votes), The Matrix (8.3/10, 39617 votes), Fight Club (8.3/10, 20546 votes), Being John Malkovich (8.2/10, 13311 votes), The Green Mile (8.1/10, 12928 votes), Magnolia (8.1/10, 10177 votes), The Insider (8.1/10 10177 votes), The Straight Story (8.0/10, 3243 votes), The Iron Giant (7.9/10, 3812 votes). All of these films are in the top 100 films.

The only film that the IMDB does not rate is The Cider House Rules, which suggests a certain degree of reliability (although there clearly may be self-reflexive factors in play, as people are encouraged to watch new movies by their Oscar nominations). There are also, however, notable discrepancies between the two lists. It cannot be conincidental that the more artistically challenging and/or violent films fell foul of the Academy. Nor can the exception of genre pieces and/or films ostensibly for children be ignored.

Now let us turn towards the IMDBs recommended films for the year 2000. The most notable difference between the two years from the perspective of the IMDB is that there are simply many many more highly rated films in 1999 than there were in 2000. The list below is the complete list of all films made in 2000 that made it into the IMDB Top 250. There were eight of them, with a top ranking of 45. The previous year is represented by sixteen films in the top 250, of which five are in the top fifty alone. Clearly 2000 was a fairly dubious year for film-making.

IMDB’s top rated films for 2000:

Working on the principles briefly established, ignoring particularly challenging films (Requiem for a Dream), animated / childrens films (Chicken Run) and genre pieces, my predictions for the 2001 Oscar nominations for Best Picture are as follows:

I’ll be down the bookies with a fiver, then.