February 2008 Archives

newoscars.jpgIt’s too long. We’re miffed by the nominations, and sometimes the process itself. The production numbers are cheesy and interminable. We’re displeased with the final results more often than not. Years later, we’re typically embarrassed by the outcome.

So let’s scrap the Oscars.

Even this year, when a reasonable and strong case can be made that the Best Picture winner was indeed the year’s best picture, all I heard were complaints. The ceremony was dull, and No Country for Old Men and Day-Lewis and Bardem were nearly inevitable.

So let’s replace this evil with another: We’ll choose the best movie of the year through something similar to the presidential-selection process.

vantagepoint.jpgVantage Point took first place this week with the lowest winning score in Box Office Power Rankings history. Granted, that’s less than a year, but still ... .

Even though it earned 10 points (the highest possible score) in both overall and per-theatre box office, the political thriller only managed a total of 28 — one lower than There Will Be Blood’s top mark four weeks ago, when it finished in ninth place in overall box office.

The lesson? Despite claims to the contrary, the movie-going public has at least decent taste. The average winning score in our system over 33 weeks has been 33.7, which means that even if every week’s winner were the top box-office draw both overall and per-theatre, it still scored an average combined critics’ rating of 13.7 in our two measures — or nearly 7 in each on a 10-point scale.

The “average” winner in the Box Office Power Rankings has had an overall-box-office score of 8.4, a per-theatre-box-office score of 8.7, a Rotten Tomatoes score of 8.4, and a Metacritic score of 8.2. In other words, these are movies that have performed well with both audiences and critics. Except Vantage Point.

Continue reading for the week’s full rankings and the methodology.

blood2.jpgA heretical question about Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood: Is Daniel Plainview a good person?

The inquiry is an overstatement, because the answer is obvious: Of course not.

But contrary to the assessments of many critics, I don’t think Plainview is evil, and more than that I’m not convinced he’s much different from most of us.

Plus: Michael Clayton.

Between the initial calculations and now, my Box Office Power Rankings-derived formula has not changed its Oscar conclusion: No Country for Old Men is still your Best Picture winner on Sunday.

The only movement involved the improved fortunes of There Will Be Blood and Atonement at the expense of Michael Clayton. The final standings: No Country for Old Men (15.0 points); Juno (14.3 points); There Will Be Blood (13.3 points); Atonement (10.7 points); and Michael Clayton (6.7 points).

The order feels intuitively correct, and the only thing that would surprise me (and rebuke my methodology) would be a Best Picture win by Atonement or Michael Clayton.

That said, I will defy my own carefully considered formula and predict a Juno win. No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood are too similar in tone, and both are too open.

You can make your own prediction at this Culture Snob poll.

In this week’s edition of the Box Office Power Rankings, I was planning to address critical disconnect — not between arbiters and their audiences but between critics and themselves.

Specifically, I was curious about movies with which there is a large gap between Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores. In this week’s rankings, the extremes were Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour (Rotten Tomatoes: 85; Metacritic: 59) and Step Up 2 the Streets (Rotten Tomatoes: 25; Metacritic: 51).

But the gap between the two scores in general can be explained by noting that Metacritic tends toward the center. The four movies in this week’s top 10 with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 70 or above each had lower Metacritic scores, and the five movies with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 37 or lower all had higher Metacritic scores. (The Bucket List boasted regularity — 42 in both measures.)

This makes perfect sense, as a three-star review is counted as fully positive by Rotten Tomatoes but only as a 75 (out of 100) by Metacritic.

As for the size of the gaps, I theorize that they’ll be particularly large with mediocre or trend-chasing movies on which there’s a basic critical consensus. Hence, critics have in final judgment liked Hannah Montana and disliked Step Up 2 the Streets, even though they’re both in the 50s in Metacritic.

Incidentally, Box Office Power Rankings winners have averaged 82.3 on Rotten Tomatoes and 74.2 on Metacritic. This week’s winner, The Spiderwick Chronicles, earned 79 and 62, respectively.

Over the 32 weeks we’ve been calculating the rankings, the top 10 movies have averaged 50.7 on Rotten Tomatoes and 55.7 on Metacritic.

Continue reading for the week’s full rankings and the methodology.

montana.jpgplainview.jpgHannah Montana, meet Daniel Plainview.

In my absence, I’ve let the Box Office Power Rankings slip, so here are three weeks’ worth. And we get the strange chart-topping pair of There Will Be Blood (January 25-27) and Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour (February 1-3 and 8-10).

Hannah, this should go without saying: Keep close watch over your milkshake.

Continue reading for the weeks’ full rankings and the methodology.

I’m a Daddy

I try to keep Culture Snob focused on things culture-y and snobby, but ... .


If you can’t help yourself when it comes to other people’s babies, there’s lots more at Bad Dog Ginger’s Web site.