Open Forum Friday: Do Award Nominations Make You More Likely to See a Movie?


Whenever Oscar season rolls around, certain people are always eager to remind us that the awards are “meaningless” and that they never honour the right movies anyway. While the idea of quantifying art is always questionable to a certain extent, the fact remains that awards like the Oscars and Golden Globes provide a huge boost of exposure to the kinds of movies that can’t usually afford multi-million dollar marketing campaigns. They also help to promote cinema in general, reminding us why going to the movies can be an unforgettable experience. On the other hand, Oscar nominations can arguably have the reverse effect, convincing moviegoers that a movie is simply boring and pretentious.

This year both Fox Searchlight and The Weinstein Company were caught running misleading ads claiming that their respective films had “won” Golden Globe nominations. Clearly some studios are a little too dependent on these kinds of accolades to help sell their film; Harvey Weinstein in particularly seems to rely almost exclusively on them. Still, an argument can be made that major awards usually do at least offer some indication of quality and that these movies are worth seeking out. What do you think? Do award nominations ever persuade you to see movies you wouldn’t otherwise see? Have you ever discovered a great film through the Oscars or are they always overrated? Can the Oscars act as a gateway to great cinema for more casual movie fans? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

  • woo

    I say that I don’t give a shit about the Oscars but the truth is…. Yes they do. Damn.

  • Joachim Lothe-Rikenberg

    The movies nominated for an Oscar are so heavily advertised long before the nominations ever come out, so no. If I wanted to see them I’d have done do because of interest.

  • Kenneth Serenyi

    I give much more weight to “average joe” top 10 lists on podcasts like this one. Even though you guys don’t worship “Thor: The Dark World” like I do, you still have some interesting picks that I’ll probably pick up.

  • PlanBFromOuterSpace

    At my theater, around this time, we generally get an influx of people that are coming to these movies because they’re basically being told to now, and they think maybe they’re all sophisticated and shit because they’re seeing something other than an Adam Sandler film. A couple months back, we had “12 Years” for a couple of weeks. This isn’t generally an area where a movie like that will do a lot of business, because we’re about as old, white, and mainstream as it gets. It did OK, but just sort of came and went. Starting this last week though, we started getting calls about it and people that were coming in upset because they “couldn’t believe that we never got this movie”. We actually got it back this weekend, but man, fuck them. Fuck them for not paying attention and only caring and paying attention NOW because of the Golden Globes win/Oscar nominations when it was already there right under their noses before, and they had just chosen to ignore it.

    Fortunately, this isn’t the kind of movie that causes serious problems for us, but every year or two, there IS something that gets a lot of attention, that people come out of the woodwork to see because it must be important or something, and then they get upset with us because they didn’t bother to see WHAT the movie was about and/or why it’s controversial. This happened a while back when “Brokeback Mountain” was getting a lot of hype. Every second or third showtime or so, someone would come out absolutely furious at about the 40-minute mark, because they couldn’t believe that we hadn’t TOLD them what to expect (which has happened to a lesser extent with “Wolf of Wall Street”). I mean, holy shit, there’s more to the movie, but if you only knew ONE THING about “Brokeback Mountain”, it’s that it’s the gay cowboy movie, and they didn’t even know THAT, even though the only reason we finally got the movie at all was because of all the awards hype that year.

  • Sam

    I try to see pretty much every movie in a certain year that has some combination of me thinking I might like it and/or word-of-mouth.

    Coincidentally, I had seen all the Best Picture nominees this year before they were announced, but there’s other Oscar type films like Saving Mr. Banks, The Butler, Secret Life of Walter Mitty, August Osage County, etc… that didn’t get nominated for the main award, but I wouldn’t have any more desire to see them even if they had been.

    Movies like The Help, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Les Miserables come to mind that I haven’t bothered to watch regardless of awards nominees.

    That said though, I could see awards leading the average movie-goer to go see movies they otherwise wouldn’t. They’re not the ones who actively seek new movies to watch and who follow what director made what, so it’s basically trailers on TV or awards that are the deciding factor.

  • pcch7

    Yes but only so I can know what movies to take the piss out of and curse at on the big night. I’ll say this, if American Hustle wins anything this year it’s an outrage.

  • Scott Gibbons

    Not really, oscar nominee’s are usually all on my Radar way before they come out and i will watch anything, and safe pat on the back oscar hopefuls are no different, and certainly this year they were, Foreign language Nominations maybe a bit more, they are mostly films that i know nothing about, i do highlight them,

  • Sam

    Yeah, Foreign Language movies might be the place where I might take some recommendations from, though usually I already seen or at least planned to see about 3 of the nominees, the others are usually unknown enough that I may have not been familiar with them.

    I did get encouraged to see both The Lives of Others and The Secret In Their Eyes because of the Oscars, but that was back when I was less proactive about looking for stuff to watch.

  • Lori Cerny

    Definitely not.

    I understand the intent of the awards, but film-viewing is too subjective to be encapsulated in such broad categories as “best drama” or “best supporting actor”.

    Even the top-rated films on IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes have dissenters. And those are not all necessarily people wishing to incite controversy, but they have a different movie-watching history.

    Brings to mind a question… should people have to have watched a specific set of films before they are allowed to be on a film award committee? Or even be allowed to review movies?

    Such as, you cannot be on any voting committee unless you’ve seen, oh, let’s say, No Country for Old Men (2007), Psycho (1960), Casablanca (1942), The Godfather (1972), and The Departed (2006)?

  • Mrespony

    I decided to see American Hustle because of the hype, it is a terrible film. The much ballyhooed performances are buried under an avalanche of costumes, supposed period music and attempts at flash.

  • Jameson

    It’s probably easy to assume most film fans are aware of movies before receiving certain accolades whereas the average person certainly becomes more interested in a film when a certain amount of buzz surrounds it, regardless of how much they actually know about the film. I don’t bother with the Oscars because A) the Oscars usually play it safe. I mean the last 2 films to win Best Pic (The Artist and Argo) are both mediocre films that glorify Hollywood and B) people make a big deal out of awards when really they are meaningless. There are films that won Best Picture years ago that aren’t talked about today. I mean Hitchcock never won Best Director and he’s regarded as one of the top directors ever. So really, these awards are made for people who aren’t film fans with the intention of leading them to believe these are the most important films of the year.

  • I might care about awards if I’m looking for an older movie to watch. If I’m searching for movies from, for example, the 60s to watch, I might be more inclined to do so if it has received a bunch of awards.

  • pcch7

    Yeah, I didn’t hate it but it’s definitely nothing special. I had high expectations on it too.. I thought it started off well with Bale fixing his hair and whatnot, but it just got worse as it went along and I lost interest in it. It felt like twice as long as The Wolf of Wall Street for me.

    Wolf or Gravity ftw in my opinion. Probably be 12 Years a Slave though.

  • Yes, but only so I know whether or not I should be mad when something wins. Which is way worse than people seeing it because they trust the academy.

  • alien1507

    try it and you’ll definitely like it ;)