Early Oscar Predictions: The Signal and the Noise, Noise, Noise
The other day, Amir, on Nathaniel Rogers' Film Experience site, threw up a post about the 10 biggest awards-season flops: movies that had buzz, then didn't. A few of these speak ill of the Academy (both “Zodiac” and “In the Wild” deserved more attention), but most (“Bobby,” “J. Edgar”) speak ill of the buzz machine, which makes noise without knowledge, without, often, having seen the movie in question. This machine, some combo of PR and online prognostication, seems to be getting bigger and louder.
Interestingly, Nathaniel himself has just joined the main online prognosticators, David Poland's Movie City News' Gurus of Gold, which, a few weeks ago, tossed up its early predictions for 2013's best picture. (Click for a bigger version. Or go right to the source.)
Many haven't seen the movies in question yet so I'm sure we'll have a few “J. Edgar”s in the group. But most have seen “Lee Daniels' The Butler,” and yet there it is, up there at the top.“ It's such a nothing movie, such awful history. But then ”The Help" was nominated. Awful has nothing to do with it.
Question. Do buzz machines like MCN actually help promote the unworthy? In Nathan Silver's dichotomy, do they create any kind of signal or simply more noise?
On his site, Nathaniel often goes over past Oscars, and what should have been nominated (or should have won) instead of the mediocrity that did. The Academy, like any group, has a long legacy in this regard. But does the machine contribute to this problem? By forcing the discussion into what will be nominated rather than what should be nominated?