What if the critics’ choice always won the Oscar?

When Moonlight won the Oscar this year, I noted that it had also been the best reviewed film of the year (according to Rotten Tomatoes).  So I started wondering how often that happened.

Here’s a list of the best reviewed films of each recent year compared to the film that actually won the Oscar. Most of the time, the Oscar winner is near the top, but sometimes, it’s clearly not the “best” film of the year.oscar

Note that Rotten Tomatoes uses some magical mathematical formula based on how many reviews a film gets and who those reviews are from and so on so that even if both films get the same percentage of good reviews, one may come out ahead of the other.

Rotten Tomatoes started in mid-1998, so I only went back to 1999 on the chart.

2005 is an interesting year — the best film was a documentary, and the winning film Crash was not very well liked. In fact, it didn’t even make the Rotten Tomatoes top 100 for the year.

The film that came in second that year was Wallace and Grommit: The Curse of the Wererabbit, but as we can see from other Rotten Tomatoes winners, the Oscar never goes to an animated film no matter how well made it is. I mean, seriously, look at this list:  Over the past 18 years, animated films have topped the charts 8 times.

Year Best Reviewed Film (Tomato score) Best Picture (Tomato score + rank)
2016 Moonlight (97%) Moonlight (97%) #1
2015 Mad Max: Fury Road (97%) Spotlight (96%) #3
2014 Boyhood (98%) Birdman (91%) #15
2013 Gravity (96%) 12 Years a Slave (96%) #2
2012 Argo (96%) Argo (96%) #2
2011 Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows 2 (96%) The Artist (96%) #2
2010 Toy Story 3 (99%) The King’s Speech (95%) #5
2009 Up (98%) The Hurt Locker (98%) #2
2008 The Wrestler (98%) Slumdog Millionaire (92%) #8
2007 Ratatouille (98%) No Country for Old Men (93%) #3
2006 Casino Royale (95%) The Departed (91%) #6
2005 Murderball (98%) Crash (75%) > #100
2004 The Incredibles (97%) Million Dollar Baby (91%) #15
2003 Finding Nemo (99%) The Return of the King (95%) #2
2002 The Two Towers  (96%) Chicago (86%) #27
2001 Monsters Inc. (96%) A Beautiful Mind (75%) #71
2000 Chicken Run (97%) Gladiator (76%) #47
1999 Toy Story 2 (100%) American Beauty (88%) #11
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