This Year’s Oscar Nominees: “Revenge of the Politically Correct Clunkers”

If George Bush and Karl Rove had set out to deliberately sabotage the movie business in 2005, they could not have done a better job.

Instead, the leading lights of the movie business did it to themselves, and continue to.

Steven Spielberg articulated the current groupthink in Hollywood just before the names of the Oscar nominees were released last week:

Bush "inspires" political films

..... Spielberg, whose film Munich deals with the killing of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics, said directors were "trying to declare their independence".

"No-one is really representing us, so we're now representing our own feelings and trying to strike back," he said.

"Film-makers are much more proactive since the second Bush administration."

"Film-makers" like Spielberg and others, along with the politically correct members of the Motion Picture Academy, appear to have become so obsessed with lionizing movies with "messages" that they seem oblivious to whether or not people actually go see them.

As far as the moviegoing public is concerned, the collection of movies that received last week's Oscar nominations in the "Big 6" categories (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor/Actress, Best Supporting Actor/Actress) is the least successful and least compelling group of films ever nominated.

Any doubt as to the truth of the previous statement was erased in the past week, as the already poorly-performing films with Big 6 nominations experienced no nomination-related bounce whatsoever:

movieChartAcadAwards2006

Data was obtained from various web pages at BoxOfficeMojo.com, including this page for all nominations in all categories, pages such as this one for pre- and post-nomination box office grosses, and this page for the current dollar grosses (before adjusting for ticket-price inflation) of the Best Picture Winners since 1978. E!Online also has a complete listing of all nominees in all categories.

The first five films listed above are this year's Best Picture nominees. On a ticket-price inflation-adjusted basis, this year's Best Picture winner, unless it's "Brokeback Mountain," will have the lowest box office gross of any Best Picture in at least the past 25 years. "Brokeback" will have to pass the $72 million mark (a legitimate possibility) and be victorious in the category to beat out the ticket-price inflation-adjusted gross of 1987's winner, "The Emperor" (which grossed $44 million at 1987's ticket prices). No other Best Picture winner in the past 25 years has grossed less than $98 million on a ticket-price inflation-adjusted basis. As to the other Best Picture nomineees: "Crash" at $53.4 million is no longer in theaters, while the gross of the other three films is so small, and their momentum so minimal, that only "Munich" has a tiny chance of breaking $50 million, let alone the $72 million inflation-adjusted gross of "The Emperor."

This year's nominees are so unappealing that the media have taken notice:

  • The New York Times tried this face-saving headline: "Small Films With Potent Themes Lead Oscar Nominations"
  • OpinionJournal.com isn't even impressed with the nominees' supposed edginess: "In fact, few of the hot topics in movies mentioned in any award category this year are truly original or daring. Racism in America; big, bad government and corporations; sexual harassment; the death penalty; McCarthyism--any of that is news? 'Brokeback Mountain' startled some moviegoers with its theme of repressed homosexual love. But that artistically acclaimed film will be a hard act to follow."
  • David Lieberman's USA Today article, "Oscar nods for small films could kill ad buzz for show," brought out the concerns of analysts and advertisers:
    "I don't know how they get an attraction out of this. Look at the top films and tell me who's starring in them. If I were an advertiser on the Oscars, I'd look for something else," says independent analyst Dennis McAlpine. "This is not going to give Hollywood a chance to promote the idea of going to the movies for entertainment."
Not that Spielberg & Co. care. "Sending a message" to George Bush and the "extreme right wing" is what is most important.

Karl Rove hasn't even needed to lay a glove on them.

Cross-posted at Bizzyblog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.