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How Do Critics and Audiences See Best Picture Differently?

How Do Critics and Audiences See Best Picture Differently?

Eight films will compete for the prestigious Best Picture Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards, but are the films that win the highest honor actually the “best,” or merely the most popular?

Online magazine Quartz has attempted to answer this question with data from Rotten Tomatoes, collecting average film ratings from both critics and viewers. Quartz’s resulting infographic demonstrates how the scores from these two groups have varied for each best picture nominee since 1990. 

Averaged across all best picture winners, the scores are close to identical: 88.3% audience versus 88.5% among critics. But not all winners do well on both counts. Critics liked “A Serious Man,” (2009), “Babe (1995), and “The Tree of Life” (2011) much better than audiences did. On the other hand, audiences loved “Forrest Gump” (1994), rating it 95%, while the film is only liked by 71% of critics. 

Certain films were roundly agreed upon by both critics and audiences: “Goodfellas” (1990), “Whiplash” (2015), and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” (2002) were considered excellent by both groups. 

The ratings for the previous two years, plus the controversial 1994 awards are shown below. For the entire interactive graphic, head over to Quartz.

READ MORE: 2014 Oscar Predictions

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