2024 Oscar Nominees: Initial Analysis

First Analysis of the 2024 Oscar Nominees, including a quantitative assessment of how competitive they are and the current measurement of Hollywood Sexism!
2024 Oscars Movies
2024 Oscar Movies

As I did last year, my first review of the 2024 Oscar nominees is intended as an overview of the whole slate.  At this point, I haven’t seen any of them and haven’t read any reviews of them – I only know about them from the general press and, of course, all the Oscar buzz.  I doubt I can eliminate all my biases, but I do my best.  In this first analysis, we will just cover some basic patterns in the nomination data.  More analysis is forthcoming.

2024 Oscar Nominees: Basic Data

There are 38 Feature-Length movies nominated for an Oscar this year, just one less than last year.  15 of them are “Special Interest” films (International, Animated, or Documentary) which I treat separately because they are difficult to compare to other films, given their special characteristics.  24 of the films are of “General Interest” and are compared to each other in my reviews.  (Note: The Zone of Interest is counted twice because, although it was nominated in the International Feature category (from the United Kingdom), it was also nominated in several other major categories including Best Picture.  So I consider it in both sets of films.  There was a similar situation last year with All Quiet on the Western Front (from Germany)).

2024 Oscar Nominees: Defining the Terms

Definitions used throughout all essays and reviews this year:

Feature-Length Movies” – I do not consider the fifteen nominees in the three ‘Short’ categories – Live Action, Documentary, and Animated – because it would add a huge amount to my workload and time. It is also often very difficult to find streaming or rental sources for these films.

Special Interest” – Movies nominated in the three unique categories of International Feature, Documentary Feature, and Animated Feature.

General Interest” – All of the Feature-length movies that are not in the “Special Interest” category or are in one of those categories and received one or more “major” nominations.

Above the Line/Major” Nomination Categories – Those categories most directly associated with the telling of the story (Writing, Directing, Acting, and Best Picture.)

Below the Line/Minor” Nomination Categories – Those technical categories which enhance the story and help make movies a special art form (Cinematography, Film Editing, Visual Effects, Production Design, Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Sound, Original Score, Original Song)

Oscar Quality Index (or OQI)” – A numerical index I created to quantify the number and type of Oscar nominations.  It is used as a rough measure of what the Academy thinks of the film and a quantification of its “Oscar Buzz”.

(If you want more details on these definitions and their rationale go to my 2022 Oscar Movie: Initial Analysis essay.)

2024 Oscar Nominees: General Interest Competition

Among the General Interest films there are several things to look at and to compare with previous years to get a sense of where the Academy has changed their thinking.  One of them is what I call nomination density.  This is the tendency to weight certain films with more nominations.  Last year, the film receiving the most nominations, Everything Everywhere All At Once received just 11 nominations.  This year Oppenheimer earned 13 (meaning it was nominated in all possible categories but 3)  and that’s a pretty heavy recognition pattern.

And if you further break out the nominations between Major and Minor (see the definitions above) and then look at the number of movies receiving Major nominations, the number went from 18 last year to just 14 this year.  Which means that fewer films received major recognition – a measure I call Major Nomination Density.  It suggests that, by concentrating the major nominations into fewer movies they are actually increasing the competition between them.  While last year Everything… pretty much had the run of the Oscars, this year’s race is much tighter with the Barbenheimer duo in a tight race with Poor Things, Killers of the Flower Moon, and five other films that received four major nominations.  

Another way to look at the same thing is using my OQI (Oscar Quality Index- see above for details) which tries to assign a number to each movie reflecting its quantity and quality of nominations.  The average OQI for movies nominated in Major categories went from 7.6 last year to 9.5 this year, a significant concentration of competition.  In short, this is a much more competitive Oscar season this year which, I think, has already been noticed in the press.

The 2024 Oscar Nominees: Gender Discrimination Ratio

A couple years ago I came up with a rather novel way of using the OQI – as a way of measuring sex/gender discrimination in Hollywood, based on the movies recognized in Oscar competition.  Using the OQI I was able to determine that the movies nominated in the Leading and Supporting Actress categories did not, usually, receive the same amount of quality support as those nominated in the Leading and Supporting Actor categories.  

If, as I assume, the OQI is a reasonable way of measuring a movie’s Oscar worthiness, then using it can determine how well Hollywood is doing on the sexism scale.  If their treatment of men and women is equal, then the average OQIs for their movies should be similar (within measurement error).

In 2023 the average movie OQI between the sexes was about the same – 11.7 for men and 11.3 for women.  However, this year there is a much bigger difference with male actors appearing in films with an average OQI of 12.9 and female actors in films with a 10.7.   So, if anything, gender discrimination – and the practice of giving women roles in films with less substantial support has increased, measurably.  (Excluding Margot Robbie from an actress nomination and Greta Gerwig from a director’s nomination didn’t help.)

2024 Oscar Nominees: Conclusions

That pretty well wraps what I want to publish at this point.  In the next post I will rank the movies using the analysis and my OQI.  Then there will be a post comparing audience and critic ratings on these films, which has always intrigued me.  Finally, I will follow that with my post of Oscar Winner Predictions.  Oscar winner analysis does not always follow what the above analysis suggests so the predictions might surprise you.  Look for these posts.

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