The Golden Globe Hack (at least in the ‘Best Animated Feature’ Category)

Before I begin, I want to quickly apologize for spreading the fake news on Twitter about my upcoming blog posts. I listed five topics that I would discuss in the future, and to say the least, this post has nothing to do with those. I just recently noticed that I forgot to compose something about this when it was relevant, but rather find it important as a vessel of discussion. 🙂  

Introduction

Anyways I’m going to get to the point immediately: the majority of the nominations for the best-animated feature at the 75th Golden Globe Awards make no sense in the context of the lineup of films released, with this particular accusation fueled based on my own personal viewings and the critical reception from audiences and critics. 

Obviously, I understand that in the grand scheme, the Golden Globe Awards should be insignificant, as attempting to objectively determine the best movies of the year will never end in unanimity. Despite this, there are three indisputable facts that cannot be ignored. First, millions of people are tuned to this event for. Second, it is heavily advertised my major broadcasting networks. Third, it remains a vital platform to promote films that may not have the success of other popular titles. 

Another thing I want to make clear is that despite certain preconceptions, the Golden Globe Awards is not specifically a Western award show given the fact that its foundation can be traced back to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who simply wishes to recognize excellence in film and television internationally. I have a feeling somebody may read through this piece and attempt to make the justification that it is a Western award show based on the choices Instead though, it would potentially reveal an inherent bias in the selection process that compromises the integrity of the award show as a whole. 

Method

Of course, I can’t just make these claims in my opinion alone without a reputable backing to drive my point home. Therefore, this post will feature an objective statistical analysis of the Golden Globe Awards ‘Best Animated Feature’ nominees based on critical reception, with the goal of determining a shortlist of films that should have been considered based on previous information. Data will be obtained from Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, and while I also acknowledge the faults of these two websites they will specifically be defined by certain measures: 

  • Metacritic will be the indicator of a film’s “quality”, or its degree of fidelity overall based on professional critics 
  • Rotten Tomatoes will be the indicator of a film’s “breadth”, or its range of appeal to an audience 

From here, I will prepare a few charts that derive specific correlations within the dataset, as a means to verify the relationship between a film’s quality and breadth metrics. From there, three rankings will be created for the following, each consisting of ten films with the highest: 

  • Metacritic Score (to indicate the overall quality)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score (to indicate appeal of critical audience)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score (to indicate appeal of general audience)

To be fully considered for this analysis, a film must have the components of both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores. Anything not meeting this will not be considered this time around.

After the rankings have been created, I will specifically identify the films that appear in all three rankings. From there, a point value will be assigned based on their rankings within the now shorter lists (starting with 1 for the highest ranking), and the five films with the lowest combined score will be deemed the ‘nominees’ for the title. 

For those wondering, the following were films that were under consideration for nominee spots were as follows. Any highlighted in red will not be considered for the data analysis due to either a severe lack of publicity or no numerical data to pull from

  • “The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales”
  • “Birdboy: The Forgotten Children”
  • “The Boss Baby”
  • “The Breadwinner”
  • “Captain Underpants The First Epic Movie”
  • “Cars 3”
  • “Cinderella the Cat”
  • “Coco”
  • “Despicable Me 3”
  • “The Emoji Movie”
  • “Ethel & Ernest”
  • “Ferdinand”
  • “The Girl Without Hands”
  • “In This Corner of the World”
  • “The Lego Batman Movie”
  • “The Lego Ninjago Movie”
  • “Loving Vincent”
  • “Mary and the Witch’s Flower”
  • “Moomins and the Winter Wonderland”
  • “My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea”
  • “Napping Princess”
  • “A Silent Voice”
  • “Smurfs: The Lost Village”
  • “The Star”
  • “Sword Art Online: The Movie – Ordinal Scale”
  • “Window Horses The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming” 

Data

Film Title Metacritic Score Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score
Birdboy: The Forgotten Children 75 68 100
Boss Baby 50 52 52
Breadwinner 76 89 93
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie 69 61 86
Cars 3 59 70 68
Coco 81 95 97
Despicable Me 3 49 55 60
The Emoji Movie 12 39 9
Ethel and Ernest 72 85 97
Ferdinand 58 49 70
The Girl without Hands 82 78 100
In This Corner of the World 73 95 98
The Lego Batman Movie 75 80 91
The Lego Ninjago Movie 55 47 53
Loving Vincent 62 88 83
Mary and the Witch’s Flower 75 72 87
My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea 72 60 84
Napping Princess 69 50 67
A Silent Voice 78 90 91
Smurfs: The Lost Village 40 55 37
The Star 42 75 44
Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming 82 90 94

Relationship Between Critic Score and Audience Score (Rotten Tomatoes)

GG Critic:Audience

Relationship Between Metacritic Score and Critic Score (Rotten Tomatoes)

GG Meta:Critic

Relationship Between Metacritic Score and Audience Score (Rotten Tomatoes)

GG Meta:Audience

Golden Globe Best Animated Film Dataset – Excel File

Analysis (Part I) 

So after collecting the relevant data for each film on the list, three scatter plots were created in order to determine the strength of the correlation between the possible combinations of variables. As one can see from the above images of the data plots, the line of best fit determines a relatively strong and positive correlation between the Metacritic Score + Audience Score, and the Critic Score + Audience Score. 

In fact, there is an extremely strong correlation between Metacritic Score + Critic Score. In the shortest terms, that means that it likely that the more positively a film was received, the more likely it was to have a wide range of appeal for a critical audience. However, it should also be noted that the perspectives of audiences and critics tended to align more than deviate from each other.  

The main purpose of these graphs is to confirm that I can make a reliable nominations list knowing that a strong basis exists for me to form these claims against the Golden Globes for their film selection. By incorporating the perspectives of the professional critics and the general audience, we can make choices for film nominations that both reflect the respective populations. 

Analysis (Part II) 

Now, we can proceed to create the three rankings list for each category I listed above:

  • For tie breakers at the bottom of the list concerning the Metacritic score, whichever film received a greater percentage of positive reviews will get the spot

Any movie highlighted in green appears on all three rankings lists, regardless of its individual ranking:

Metacritic Score: 

  1. The Girl without Hands 
  2. Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming 
  3. Coco 
  4. A Silent Voice 
  5. The Breadwinner 
  6. Birdboy: The Forgotten Child 
  7. The Lego Batman Movie 
  8. Mary and the Witch’s Flower 
  9. In This Corner of the World 
  10. My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score

  1. The Girl without Hands
  2. Birdboy: The Forgotten Children 
  3. In This Corner of the World 
  4. Coco 
  5. Ethel and Ernest 
  6. Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming 
  7. The Breadwinner 
  8. A Silent Voice 
  9. The Lego Batman Movie 
  10. Mary and the Witch’s Flower 

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score

  1. In This Corner of the World 
  2. Coco 
  3. Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming 
  4. A Silent Voice 
  5. The Breadwinner 
  6. Loving Vincent 
  7. Ethel and Ernest 
  8. The Lego Batman Movie 
  9. The Girl without Hands 
  10. The Star

Just in case you didn’t look at the rankings, in particular, the films that were determined to be on the shortlist for the nomination spots were:

  • Breadwinner
  • Coco
  • The Girl without Hands
  • In This Corner of the World
  • The Lego Batman Movie
  • A Silent Voice
  • Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming

From there, I assigned the point values and determined the five films that should be nominated based on these metrics:

Coco 

The Girl without Hands 

In This Corner of the World 

A Silent Voice 

Window Horses: The Poetic Epiphany of Rosie Ming

Overall, I feel that this selection demonstrates that the following films undoubtedly deserved nominations or recognition in some capacity, but consists of a diverse range of films that employ several distinct styles of animation. Not to mention, these were films that had a wider range of appeal for both critics and consumers, with the positive reception outweighing its detractors.

Analysis (Part III)

Some of you may currently be scratching your heads at the outcome of this article. Coco happened to be the winner of the Best Animated Feature at the Golden Globe and made the shortlist here, so what issues would I take with it. Why am I considering the Golden Globe a “hack”?

Well, to see what I’m referring to, let’s look at the ACTUAL nominations for the “Best Animated Feature Category”:

  • The Boss Baby
  • The Breadwinner
  • Coco
  • Ferdinand
  • Loving Vincent

Coco happens to be here, but the other four films have several concerns surrounding their conclusion. Of the four, Breadwinner makes the most sense, given its positive reception across the board and on my data analysis, and while it didn’t make my shortlist, nevertheless I can understand its inclusion.

From there, Loving Vincent seemed to have a wider range of appeal, but the overall quality of the film as perceived by professional critics was in the lower half compared relatively to the other films. With all said, I believe there is still significant merit within the film as a contender on a nominations list, given its novelty as the first fully painted animated film.

But then you’ve got The Boss Baby and Ferdinand. Let it sink in: a significant amount of members from the HFPA determined that The Boss Baby and Ferdinand were amongst the best-animated films of 2017.

I happen to find that pretty hilarious, especially considering that the numbers paint a much different picture. Let’s do a quick rundown:

  • The Boss Baby has a score of 50 on Metacritic, and 52 for both the critic and audience metrics on Rotten Tomatoes. This means that for each category, The Boss Baby places in the top five worst films on the nominations list.
  • Ferdinand has a 58 on Metacritic, a 70 for the critic score, and a 49 for the audience score. It’s Metacritic and critic scores are both within the lower half of films on the list, but its audience score is particularly abysmal, being third to last in that category.

And these metrics are pretty unfortunate, especially for these latter two films, if there are a wealth of other films that were undoubtedly better received universally amongst the population, and likely the international community. However, it’s almost no surprise why the final nominations were why they were compared to the list I made.

While my list included four international films and one American film, the official nominations had three American films and two international films.

And guess which two American films happened to be present on the Golden Globe list and not mine…

Conclusion

Unfortunately, it seems extremely likely that The Boss Baby and Ferdinand were included in order to boost the repertoire of American animation through numbers. But that then begs the question why movies like The Lego Batman Movie and Captain Underpants, which were better received on all fronts than The Boss Baby and Ferdinand, failed to obtain nominations.

In short, The Boss Baby performed the best at the box office, indicating that it was quite successful from a financial standpoint, and Ferdinand features several celebrities that are easily recognizable. Additionally, it is possible that some of the judges never even watched some of the films considered for nomination

That’s all there is to it. And that in itself is heartbreaking.

The blatant willingness to forego the quality of other animated feature films from other countries in favor of settling for what was popular, what was successful, makes me admittedly angry. To see the fidelity of animation compromised by a seeming insecurity to acknowledge the accomplishments of the field outside domestic boundaries says plenty about Hollywood’s priorities in the promotion of animation, but the long road ahead that animation has to overcome to be recognized for its breadth and quality as a legitimate film medium alongside every other film. Whether the film you wanted to be nominated or not is necessarily the issue: it is the process in which those films were selected that requires evaluation and change for such prominent award shows like the Golden Globe Awards to be more encompassing of animation as an art form.

 

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