The key question for the Academy is whether or not this group of nominees is enough to move the needle in viewership. The public loves Christopher Nolan and so do the award voting bodies. Oppenheimer appears to be giving him the best chance of his entire career at winning Best Director and Best Picture. Likewise, Barbie looks like it could win some big awards, despite Greta Gerwig being shockingly left out of the Best Director category (not to mention Margot Robbie not being nominated for Best Actress).
That means this year’s Best Picture nominees feel like more than just nominations for the sake of being nominated. These are very popular films that are also in the running. So, while some of last year’s hugely popular films were nominated as well, this year’s popular films have more skin in the game, and audiences feel invested in many of these films. This can help when it comes to viewership, which really needs a boost.
Last year’s Oscars ceremony was watched by 18.7 million people, a significant increase from the all-time low in 2021 of just 10.4 million viewers. But we’re still a long way from pre-pandemic numbers when the concert easily attracted 30 million viewers or more. Hollywood needs people to care about awards — especially Oscars — because these things strongly motivate decisions to produce certain types of films. In an increasingly uncertain market, one could argue that the importance of the Academy Awards has never been greater (hence the average investment of moviegoers in the Academy Awards). We’ll see if this particular group of candidates is up to the task at hand.
The 96th Annual Academy Awards are scheduled to air on Sunday, March 10, 2024 on ABC.