Thursday, February 18, 2010

Critics' Top Tens of 2009

I'm sure most of you have seen Movie City News' spreadsheet of 2009 top ten lists, and I thought this would be a good time -- especially after the Oscar nominations -- to offer up some of my reactions. In total, top ten lists were complied from 239 critics. The total score of each film was based upon the total number of critics lists they appeared on (list mentions) and also, the average number of values each film placed away from #10 (average vote). For example, if a film appeared on 20 top ten lists and it's average spot within the top ten was #8, then you would multiply 20 times 2 to get the final score of 40. This method of voting ensures that both the list mentions and average vote relate directly to a film's total score. If there is any confusion about this voting method, feel free to ask in the comments section, or take a look at the spreadsheet and it might become clearer.

Keeping those statistics in mind, let me list the top ten films that appeared on the spreadsheet, with their total scores in parenthesis.
  1. The Hurt Locker (1164.0)
  2. Up in the Air (764.5)
  3. Inglourious Basterds (713.5)
  4. Up (656.0)
  5. A Serious Man (630.5)
  6. Fantastic Mr. Fox (441.0)
  7. Precious (388.0)
  8. An Education (311.5)
  9. Avatar (299.5)
  10. District 9 (298.5)
Whenever reflecting upon Oscar nominations, I am always intrigued to see what type of impact critical reception had on the Best Picture nominees. In this case, the correlation was almost identical, as all of these films received a Best Picture nomination except for Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was knocked out by The Blind Side. If you are curious, The Blind Side had a total score of 25.5, and it appeared on the top ten list of only five critics. Compare those numbers to the much larger ones listed above, and you'll get a feeling why many film bloggers (including myself) are so upset at the thought of a film with such weak critical support receiving a Best Picture nomination.

Another number that intrigued me from the top ten was the current difference between Avatar and District 9 being only a single point. 2009 was a historic year for science-fiction, and those numbers give you an idea of how tough it was for critics to pick a singular favorite among 2009's sci-fi movies (Star Trek currently sits at #15 on the list). If you compare the standings listed above with most Oscar prediction charts around the web, you'll find Avatar much higher up than District 9. It just goes to show that although critical opinion can heavily sway which films get nominated, there are often many other factors that contribute to deciding which film will win.

As much as this spreadsheet goes towards defending the impact of critical opinion on an awards race, there are indeed films lower down on the list that contradict that very theory. For example, the #11 (500 Days of Summer) and #12 (Where the Wild Things Are) films were both snubbed from Oscar nominations entirely, even after receiving recognition at the Golden Globes.

With my main thoughts out of the way, let me just share a few more interesting facts, and then you all can share your reactions in the comments section.
  • The Hurt Locker is far and away the critical favorite. It appears on 57 more critics lists than any other film.
  • Clint Eastwood's Invictus -- a film that was widely considered to be a sure bet for a Best Picture nomination -- received a total score of 54.5, having appeared on 12 top ten lists.
  • Several films received a total score of only 1: 2012, Alexander the Last, Amreeka, Cairo Time, Crank: High Voltage, Everybody's Fine, Extract, Jennifer's Body, Shall We Kiss, The English Surgeon, The Window, and Visual Acoustics.
  • George Clooney has two films in the top ten: Up in the Air (#2) and Fantastic Mr. Fox (#6).
  • Outside of the top 30, the films with the highest total scores are Hunger (85.5), Public Enemies (85.0), and The Hangover (83.5) -- none of these films received an Oscar nomination
  • The highest ranking foreign language film is Summer Hours at #14. It has a total score of 232.5.
  • The highest ranking documentary is The Cove at #20. It has a total score of 147.5.
  • The highest ranking horror film was Antichrist at #30. It has a total score of 95.5.
There you have it. Speak up. And be sure to take a look at MCN's Top Tens of the Decade spreadsheet as well.

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