Oscar nominees: rotten or fresh?

It’s Oscar season.

This means, in addition to handing out praise for nominees, people are handing out criticism for the films they feel do not deserve to take home a statue. While it can be argued that film, like other art forms, is a matter of personal taste, it’s still treated as a quantifiable medium. Stock is put into the opinions of movie critics and award show results.

But if critics and award shows are trusted to determine which films are high-quality and which films should be avoided all together, shouldn’t these two measures be relatively congruent?

The truth is, they often aren’t.

Take, for example, the nominees for this year’s Best Picture Oscar. None of the nominees made it into the Top 10 Films of 2012 list on Rotten Tomatoes (a website which rates films based on an aggregate of professional critical reviews). The films are given a percentage rating based on how many positive reviews it receives, versus how many reviews it receives overall. A movie is “certified fresh” if it receives a 75% or over positive rating – meaning it “constitutes a seal of approval, synonymous with quality”.

To be fair, the top 10 includes the re-release of Finding Nemo and a few documentaries which were not eligible for the Best Picture category. However, there were still 4 eligible films that appear on the list, before nominee Argo checks in at #20. The rest of the nominees rank at various positions on the top 100, with Les Misérables not even making the list (it received a modest 70% positive rating).

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Many critics did not like Les Misérables, with Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly quipping, “This fake-opulent Les Miz made me long for guillotines.” And yet it was still nominated over other more critically acclaimed films like The MasterThe Dark Knight Rises, and Cabin in the Woods (which received 86%, 87%, and 92% respectively, and all ranked in the top 100).

The Academy Awards has a long history of making nominee choices that do not please the masses. So much that many newspapers and magazines run annual “Oscar snub” lists detailing the missteps of the academy’s choices in any given year.

It’s unclear who will take the top prize of Best Picture this year, but what is clear is that it will be contested by someone – certified fresh or not.

Be sure to tune in to the 85th annual Academy Awards this Sunday at 7PM EST on ABC and follow our live coverage at JNMJournal.com.

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