For those of you placing bets on the Oscars this year here’s one more datapoint to factor in before making your picks - talent demand. While the Oscars (and most awards shows for that matter) have taken heat recently for being glaringly out of step with popular opinion, they have made moves to better align themselves with what the public wants. The nominees at the Emmys have been trending more in-line with popular demand for years. This year’s Oscars added a new fan favorite category that opens up voting to the general public.
While the talent demand for these actors may not be a predictor for the whims of the Academy, it’s a look at which of the nominees won the hearts and minds of audiences this year, even if that doesn’t ultimately translate to taking home a statue Sunday night.
The best actor nominees fall into three tiers of demand. Leading the pack is Andrew Garfield with 21.43 times the demand of the average talent during the awards eligibility period. He is nominated in this category for his role in Tick, Tick… Boom! but has been busy with many projects this year, the biggest of which was Spiderman: No Way Home which propelled him to be the second most in-demand actor globally at one point. Just trailing Andrew Garfield in demand is Will Smith, who is perennially popular and has won fans for his many iconic roles throughout the years.
In the middle of the pack are Benedict Cumberbatch and Denzel Washington, two highly respected and popular actors but with more of a niche following than either Will Smith or Andrew Garfield. Javier Bardem rounds out this year’s best actor nominees with 3.15 times the demand of the average talent, well below his fellow nominees. He’s nominated for his role as Desi Arnaz in Being the Ricardos, a film about Hollywood that seems built more to win over Academy members than the general public.
Similar to the demand for the Best Actor nominees, the Best Actress nominees also fall into three tiers. Kristen Stewart has the highest demand of nominees in this category (23.59x) and in fact was more in-demand than even Andrew Garfield. Jessica Chastain and Nicole Kidman have solid demand but don’t quite reach the level of mainstream appeal that Kristen Stewart has. Nicole Kidman has stayed at the top of mind for audiences in part due to the success of her show, Nine Perfect Strangers, one of the most in-demand series premieres of the past year.
Penélope Cruz and Olivia Colman are both prolific and critically acclaimed actresses, but do not have the same degree of broad popularity as the other nominees for best actress this year. Ultimately it remains to be seen how much of an asset mainstream popularity is at this year’s Academy Awards. New “fan favorite” category or not, this is still the Oscars and the Academy will have its way!