Are the Oscars too old?

8 March, 2023

As the entertainment world gears up for the 2023 Oscars, a major spotlight falls on the movies nominated for the Best Picture Award, the final award of the night and widely considered the most prestigious honor of the ceremony. Over the last few years, there has been a question of how representative industry insiders who vote in the Oscars are of popular opinion.  With the average age of Academy members over 60, some argue that the awards are biased towards the preferences of older audiences. 

A gerontocratic Academy means its members are likely inclined to favor films that resonate with their own experiences and perspectives and that movies with older audiences may be more likely to win. Using Parrot Analytics’ demographic data we can take a look at the generational breakdown of the audiences for the movies nominated for the Best Picture award. Of the ten nominees for Best Picture, only two are skewed toward younger audiences. Avatar: The Way of Water and Everything Everywhere All at Once were the only two nominees where the youngest two generations made up over 50% of the audience.

Of the older-skewing movies, we can see that The Banshees of Inisherin and Top Gun: Maverick were the favorites of Millennials (Between 30 and 39 years old). Over 35% of the audience of each movie belonged to this generation. All Quiet On The Western Front was a heavy favorite with the over-40 age group. Themes in several of these films make them more relatable to audiences older than 30 years old, such as a strong 80’s nostalgic appeal (Top Gun: Maverick), social satire (Triangle of Sadness), war drama (All Quiet on the Western Front), or aging and mortality in the case of The Banshees of Inisherin.


When it comes to popularity, over the last 30 days, there are three movies that clearly stand out, with exceptional levels of demand: Everything Everywhere All at OnceAvatar: The Way of Water, and Top Gun: Maverick. Behind these are four movies with a solid level of demand between 20 - 30 times the average movie demand. Although the Academy is often criticized for not listening to the public, this year there is a high probability of the most popular show winning Best Picture, as Everything Everywhere All at Once is one of the frontrunners. 

Three of the nominees trail the others in terms of audience demand - Triangle of SadnessWomen Talking, and Tár. While it is not uncommon for a niche film like these to win, it would certainly catch most people off guard. As we saw last year when CODA beat out much more popular movies like Licorice PizzaDune, and The Power Of The Dog, upsets like this tend to be a huge boon for movies that might not otherwise have gotten much attention.


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