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Public’s Choice for Best Picture Differs from Movie Academy’s Selection

“Gladiator” won the Oscar for Best Picture on March 25, upsetting America’s choice, as revealed by an earlier Gallup poll, for “Erin Brockovich.”

Thirty-two percent of Americans chose “Erin Brockovich” as best film of the year, compared to 27 percent who voted for “Gladiator.”
This is the third year in a row that Americans’ choice for Best Picture, according to Gallup, has failed to match the choice of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). AMPAS members cast the votes which determine the winners.
Gallup reported “Saving Private Ryan” as Americans’ choice for 1999, but “Shakespeare in Love” won the Oscar. “The Green Mile” was Americans’ top pick for 2000, according to Gallup, but “American Beauty” earned the Academy Award.
“Frequent moviegoers,” or “those who have seen five or more movies in theaters over a 12-month period,” chose “Gladiator” over “Erin Brockovich” (35 percent to 30 percent, respectively).
Incidentally, Julia Roberts won the Best Actress Oscar for portraying Erin Brockovich, and Russell Crowe took the Best Actor Oscar for his work in “Gladiator.”
“The public’s preference for best picture is very closely tied to the pictures they have actually seen,” according to Gallup. Forty-eight percent of those surveyed reported having seen “Erin Brockovich,” while 41 percent said they saw “Gladiator.”
Less than 10 percent of respondents reported having seen the other Best Picture nominees: “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Traffic” and “Chocolat.”
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” won several Academy Awards, including Best Foreign-Language Film. “Traffic” won Oscars for Best Director (Steven Soderbergh), Best Screenplay Adaptation (Stephen Gaghan) and Best Supporting Actor (Benicio Del Toro).
The Gallup poll was based on telephone interviews with a national sample of 800 adults, randomly selected. It was conducted March 15-18.
Cliff Vaughn is BCE’s associate director.