Blogger James Story broke down the Academy Awards' best picture nominees for each year based on their score on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, and he found that the highest rated film each year only won best picture 26 percent of the time. Of course, as any movie fan knows, the some of the arguably best films of the year are never even nominated for best picture. Or, like, understood in their time. So keep that in mind!
The list starts out well enough by saying a bunch of movies you haven't seen are better than other movies you also haven't seen.
By the 1940s, the critics right a lot of wrongs by bringing attention to The Philadelphia Story, Citizen Kane, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which were denied Academy wins.
Things are a little weirder in the 60s, when critics pick The Hustler over West Side Story and Z over Midnight Cowboy.
In the 90s, Quiz Show beats Pulp Fiction for the critics (Pulp Fiction was also nominated for Best Picture that year), but Quiz Show is still better than the actual winner, Forrest Gump.
By the 2000s, this system goes to sh*t. This may be because Rotten Tomato reviews are sometimes posted years after a film's initial release, giving critics the benefit of reflection and perspective removed from awards season hype. But for more recent films, this reflection hasn't happened yet.
In these years, many of the actual Best Picture winners are more beloved and canonized than their Rotten Tomato score would reflect. For example, Juno winning out over No Country for Old Men and The Queen beating The Departed in Rotten Tomato scores.
It's a fascinating list, but it also proves that award shows are basically just sports, but less objective.