Now that you’re reading this, you now remember what last year’s Best Picture winner at the Oscars was, assuming you recognize the image above. But did you remember what it was before you clicked? Odds are you didn’t, as a new survey reveals that only 20% of people were able to correctly identify Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water as last year’s winner. This is just one point among many that reveals that the gap between the Academy Awards and the average citizen may be even wider than we thought.
The 20% of people who could correctly name The Shape of Water is actually one of the better results from a new poll via THR and Morning Consult. The poll asks respondents who they believe won the Best Picture award over the last few years and the numbers only get worse once you move past last year’s awards.
A lot of this may ultimately be just film trivia, but it reinforces something that the industry largely already knows, that the average person has little to no familiarity with the sorts of films that get nominated, and win, awards like the Oscars. The biggest takeaway I think is that when asked which movie should have won Best Picture in any given year, 50 to 60 percent of respondents had no opinion. People just don’t care.
That lack of interest has been reflected in the television ratings for the awards for the last several years. In the last five years, viewership has dropped by nearly 20 million people.
Numerous things are being tried by both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and ABC, who televises the Oscars, to try and fix these issues. New awards categories, like one dedicated to popular films, have been suggested as a way to get the films that people actually go to see receive more awards recognition. Changes to the telecast itself, including making it happen earlier in the year, are also planned.
Part of the reason that most people don’t remember who won Best Picture is that few people actually see the movies that win. Domestically, The Shape of Water saw the best box office success of the last five winners, with a take of $63 million. Moonlight only brought in $27 million by comparison.