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When Oscar Met Boffo: Comparing Nominees’ Box Office Takes

Oscar winners can be hard to predict, depending on the whims of the Academy and political maneuvering as much as anything else. But what happens when you introduce box office take into the running? Here are what would take home the trophies if it were purely based on money.

Motion Picture of the Year
Toy Story 3- $415,004,880
Inception- $292,576,195
True Grit- $164,980,809
The King’s Speech- $106,182,719
Black Swan- $102,248,574
The Social Network- $96,798,310
The Fighter- $88,626,150
The Kids Are All Right- $20,811,365
127 Hours- $17,614,081
Winter’s Bone- $6,425,778

To no one’s surprise, Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story takes home the Best Picture Oscar in terms of box office. Looking at the rest of the nominees, there’s not really anything else that stood a chance of coming close, really. How can even Christopher Nolan compete with a long-awaited reunion of massively iconic animated characters in a bittersweet movie about the passing of time?

Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role
True Grit-Jeff Bridges- $164,980,809
The King’s Speech-Colin Firth- $106,182,719
The Social Network-Jesse Eisenberg- $96,798,310
127 Hours-James Franco- $17,614,081
Biutiful-Javier Bardem- $3,133,104

If dollars were votes, Bridges would walk away with the Best Actor trophy for the second year in a row, thanks to the success of True Grit. If only Colin Firth’s movie had featured some cowboys…

Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role
The King’s Speech-Geoffrey Rush- $106,182,719
The Town-Jeremy Renner- $92,186,262
The Fighter-Christian Bale- $88,626,150
The Kids Are All Right-Mark Ruffalo- $20,811,365
Winter’s Bone-John Hawkes- $6,425,778

…That said, The King’s Speech was successful enough that it would mean that Geoffrey Rush took home the award in this category. Given the talk around town, it’s possible that this is one of the few cases where box office and Academy voting will come up with the same result.

Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role
Black Swan-Natalie Portman- $102,248,574
The Kids Are All Right-Annette Bening- $20,811,365
Blue Valentine-Michelle Williams- $8,975,286
Winter’s Bone-Jennifer Lawrence- $6,425,778
Rabbit Hole-Nicole Kidman- $2,010,073

Look at the massive distance between Black Swan and every other movie in this category. Does this mean that actresses only get meaty leading roles in little-seen movies, or just that the “Natalie Portman in a lesbian scene in that ballet monster movie” thing really helped sales? Depressingly, probably both.

Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role
True Grit-Hailee Steinfeld- $164,980,809
The King’s Speech-Helena Bonham Carter- $106,182,719
The Fighter-Amy Adams- $88,626,150
The Fighter-Melissa Leo- $88,626,150
Animal Kingdom-Jacki Weaver- $1,041,212

Again, look at the difference in box office between these movies – with the exception of Animal Kingdom – and the Best Actress category. Clearly, audiences seem to prefer movies where the leads are male.

Achievement in Directing
True Grit-Joel Coen & Ethan Coen- $164,980,809
The King’s Speech-Tom Hooper- $106,182,719
Black Swan-Darren Aronofsky- $102,248,574
The Social Network-David Fincher- $96,798,310
The Fighter-David O. Russell- $88,626,150

The Coens’ Western remake comes out top in terms of box office for this category, but I don’t think they’re really going to lead the voting from the Academy. I’m hoping for an upset from David Fincher, but even though The Social Network was easily one of the best movies of last year, audiences don’t seem to have been that interested.

Adapted Screenplay
Toy Story 3-Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich- $415,004,880
True Grit-Joel Coen, Ethan Coen- $164,980,809
The Social Network-Aaron Sorkin- $96,798,310
127 Hours-Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy- $17,614,081
Winter’s Bone-Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini- $6,425,778

Yeah, Toy Story 3 destroys the opposition here again, making three times as much money as its closest competitor. If you’re wondering why it’s in the “adapted” section, by the way, it’s because sequels count as adaptations of the original movie for the Academy, at least until they come up with a new “Bastardizations Of Your Memories Of The Original” category.

Original Screenplay
Inception-Christopher Nolan- $292,576,195
The King’s Speech-David Seidler- $106,182,719
The Fighter-Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington- $88,626,150
The Kids Are All Right-Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg- $20,811,365
Another Year-Mike Leigh- $2,536,222

Finally, a win for Inception – even though he’s unlikely to win the real thing. Still, at least he can himself to sleep at night on top of his bed made of all the money he’s made from Inception and the Batman movies. You need to take comfort where you can get it, it has to be said…


  • Luke

    “Clearly, audiences seem to prefer movies where the leads are male.”

    That’s a little post hoc ergo propter hoc for me. There are a number of reasons to explain the discrepancy, including how the movies were marketed, studio involvement, their genre, etc. 127 Hours and The Social Network had massive amounts of built-in press since they were both based on true stories. That could very easily explain their bigger box office draw.

    I think it’s more telling that you jump to gender as the main explanation.

  • mars

    Its also a disservice to men that he thinks they would go to a ballet psychological thriller because of soft core lesbian scene. Looking at all the other women in the lead catagory and its clear why Black Swan is a clear winner. None of the other films are exciting. They are either led by ‘issues’ which the general public may consider liberal preaching or are downright dour and depressing. Black Swan is a thriller and Natalie Portman is a populist leading lady who most of the audience is familiar with.

  • mars

    Hailey Steinfeld’s nomination is a clear cut case of catagory fraud. They think her youth with distract from the fact she was the LEAD in True Grit.

  • BoyWonder

    “Clearly, audiences seem to prefer movies where the leads are male.”

    Jesus, be more sexist would you? Hollywood doesn’t make a LOT of big budget roles for actress. I’m guessing by this, and your other posts, that you only like big budget mainstream stuff. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just an observation. Still, there IS something wrong with saying AUDIENCES don’t like female dominated cinema. Frankly, that is just your opinion. I’m all for Natalie Portman getting more vehicles. I don’t look at the sex of the actor when I see a motion picture, that’s just juvenile.

    Oh, and ‘Toy Story 3′ doesn’t even REMOTELY deserve to be nominated for the BEST Picture Award. There’s an animated category for a reason.

  • Jacob

    Hey! Toy Story 3 was an amazing movie and deserves to be there! Hell, to me it deserves to win!

  • Jacob

    Why are you only counting money earned in the USA? Toy Story 3 made $1 Billion dollars world-wide.

  • Cforshaw67220

    ‘The Social Network’ was boring, misleading, and stupid, and whilst I haven’t seen ‘The King’s Speech’, I have no intention of watching such monarchist drivel, which rewrites history to paint a monarchy that was sympathetic to the Nazi’s as some kind of heroic group. Films shouldn’t be chained by the events they represent, but they also shouldn’t flat out mislead their audiences, either.

    Anyway, stop making these stupid back-slapping ceremonies out to be important – they’re just a promotional tool. That is why the entire thing was set up, and that is the function they serve. That little gold statue has not made any film better, or any actor better, or any director better. If anything, it made Cuba Gooding Jr. worse.

  • Hollowchatter

    The first, and only, solely female-led movie to gross $200 million is The Blind Side. Films with female protagonists generally don’t do well. True Grit basically hid the fact that Mattie was the lead in every single advertisement.

  • mars

    The King’s Speech has nothing to do with the Nazis so I don’t think that was very relevant. It was George’s predecessor that had a good relationship with Hiter, not George himself. You’ll remember his wife Elizabeth famously said that she was glad the palace got bombed by the Nazi’s because she could look normal people in the eyes again. These weren’t supporters of the Germans. You also forget that Britain, the USA and France didn’t go to war because of Hitler’s ideology and how he made his people suffer. We went to war for political reasons due to Hitler’s aggressive expansion, not humanitarian ones. Our appeasement can also be considered ‘support’ in that instance..

  • Drhiphop85

    have to agree with Hollowchatter…let’s not act like gender politics don’t come into play in Hollywood.