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Is Oscar Bait Actual? We Used Databricks and IMDb Information to Discover Out

In case it wasn’t clear by our 100 Years of Horror Movies evaluation…we actually love films right here at Databricks. We’re additionally obsessive about knowledge. So, with the 94th Academy Awards proper across the nook, we thought it was the proper time to as soon as once more marry these two. The subject we selected? Oscar Bait, a time period used to explain movies which might be seemingly designed to earn an Oscar nomination.

Extra particularly, we wished to know: is Oscar Bait actual?

This weblog publish will present our strategy to answering this query utilizing Delta Reside Tables (DLT) and Databricks SQL to course of and analyze a wealthy set of information from IMDb, the world’s hottest and authoritative supply for data on films, TV reveals and celebrities. Along with uncovering some fascinating findings (which we’ll share), this use case demonstrates how DLT’s declarative strategy drastically reduces the work and code required to handle dependable knowledge pipelines.

What’s Oscar Bait?

At its core, Oscar Bait describes movies that appear to be created with the intention of incomes nominations for an Academy Award. Whereas there isn’t any official definition of what constitutes “Oscar Bait,” there’s a typically agreed-upon record of themes and traits, together with:

  • Belong within the historic/interval or tragedy subgenre
  • Have lengthy runtimes
  • Launched throughout “Oscar season,” the previous few months of the 12 months

These traits, whereas requiring some interpretation, turned the inspiration of the attributes we used to find out if a movie was Oscar Bait and, in the end, whether or not these actually correlate with Academy Award nominations or wins.

Our knowledge & standards

For our evaluation, we used a licensed IMDb knowledge set of Academy Award-nominated and successful movies from the years 1980 to 2019. We selected this timeframe to check movies throughout the similar trendy context; for instance, it isn’t analogous to check traits, like runtime, of a 1929 movie to a 2019 movie. Observe that 2020 and 2021 have been outlier years for the Academy Awards given the pandemic so we reduce off our evaluation at 2019.

The following step was to outline the attributes in our knowledge set that represent Oscar Bait. We recognized the next:

  • Movie size: > 90 minute
  • Launch months: October, November, December
  • Belongs in an Oscar Bait subgenre (see under)
  • Isn’t an animation or documentary movie

IMDb’s knowledge set included an enormous quantity of subgenre labels that spanned from very broad to very particular. To slim our scope, for our evaluation, we recognized related key phrases equivalent to interval, historic, tragedy, melodrama, docudrama and epic. We chosen the 20 most typical subgenres that finest aligned with the Oscar Bait standards. Subgenres that included animation and fantasy have been excluded since these will not be thought of “Oscar Bait” however might be connected to Bait subgenres, like epic.

Constructing our knowledge pipelines

Final 12 months, we introduced the launch of Delta Reside Tables, a framework that makes it simple to construct and handle knowledge processing pipelines.

DLT helps knowledge engineering groups simplify ETL improvement and administration with declarative pipeline improvement, computerized knowledge testing to stop knowledge high quality points, and deep visibility for monitoring and restoration. This declarative strategy signifies that knowledge engineers merely inform DLT what they need performed – and DLT takes care of the remainder. Use instances might be executed with just some strains of code.

Right here’s a snippet of what the code regarded like for this use case:

We then used Databrick SQL (DB SQL) to construct out visualizations. DB SQL comes with tons of efficiency optimizations and makes it simple for analysts to construct dashboards – all inside a unified platform within the Lakehouse platform. You possibly can study extra about Databricks SQL and its advantages in our earlier weblog.

Our evaluation

We put collectively a number of dashboards to realize insights into Oscar traits. Whereas our evaluation focuses on surface-level traits, we did uncover some fascinating insights.

Powered by IMDb

The above charts present the share of Academy Award nominees (high) and winners (backside) that meet all Oscar Bait standards. To state the apparent, Oscar Bait persistently makes up a small proportion of the movies throughout many years. The narrative will get extra fascinating once we have a look at Academy Award wins; there’s over a 140% enhance in Oscar Bait within the 2010s. However what’s driving this?

As we clarify within the subsequent few sections, what appear to be driving this are shifts basically film traits, together with longer runtimes and the elevated reputation of end-of-year film releases, docudramas and darker, extra advanced movies.

Our speculation

There are definitely exceptions, however the Academy Awards typically acknowledge movies well-received by the general public. This IMDb record even reveals that 100% of Finest Image-winning movies have viewers scores of seven.0 or larger from 1980 to 2019. However similar to another client product, films go out and in of trend.

For instance, the 90s and early-2000s are thought of the “golden period” of rom-coms. However studios have drastically decreased manufacturing of rom-coms, which generally don’t resonate with youthful, world audiences (although there are after all exceptions). To achieve as we speak’s broad viewers, the style has been changed by the rom-com-drama, which touches on critical matters and social commentaries, as seen in Silver Lining’s Playbook, The Artist and Her (all of which obtained Oscar nominations).

Whereas it’s a hen or an egg scenario, trendy world audiences appear to typically want darker, extra advanced movies – a lot of which fall into the usual “Bait” tropes.

Diving deeper

Our subsequent evaluation regarded on the three attributes (runtime, subgenre and launch date) individually. These analyze all Academy Award nominees to seize insights from a broader set of movies.

Perception #1: Growing runtimes

Powered by IMDb

The primary attribute we checked out was runtime. Because the graph reveals, most movies run 90 minutes to 2.5 hours throughout many years. Nonetheless, Oscar nominees grew longer within the Nineteen Nineties – with practically a forty five% enhance within the 2000s amongst 2.5 – 3 hour movies. Apparently, Titanic, launched in 1997 and clocking in at 3 hours and 14 minutes, broke trendy Academy Award information and took dwelling a groundbreaking 11 wins. It’s attainable that this impressed extra epic-length dramas with the hopes of emulating Titanic’s Oscar success.

The 2000s additionally marked the surge of epic-fantasy movies (doubtless fueled by CGI developments), together with Avatar and the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Harry Potter sequence. These movies usually have extremely lengthy runtimes and lots of obtained Oscar nominations and wins.

Perception #2: Oscar season is actual

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Everybody talks about “Oscar Season” – the notion that Oscar-worthy movies are launched on the finish of the 12 months so that they’re high of thoughts throughout nomination time. The graph above reveals that end-of-year has at all times been probably the most lively for Oscar-nominated movie releases, however grew considerably within the 2010s.

This shift additionally corresponds with the rise of streaming providers within the mid-2000s, which introduced new competitors to film theaters that have been already dealing with declining attendance. The tip of the 12 months can also be a revenue-generating machine for film theaters as a result of vacation breaks, and so forth. – Dec 24 to Jan 1 accounted for practically 5% of the 12 months’s whole field workplace receipts in 2019. With the added strain of streaming providers, it is smart that movies, in an try to extend income, would launch through the optimum moviegoing time for shoppers – which additionally corresponds with Oscar Season.

Perception #3: The rise of the docudrama

Powered by IMDb

Lastly, we have a look at shifts in subgenres. Observe that the above graph solely reveals Academy Award-nominated movies that fall throughout the Bait subgenres.

As you may see, prior to now 10 years, there’s been a outstanding enhance in movies throughout the historic and docudrama subgenres. On the similar time, interval movies have declined.

When wanting on the Oscar nominees over the past decade, many “historic” movies are much less targeted on the “costume or interval” drama and as an alternative spotlight historic moments which might be extra straight related to trendy audiences. We see this primary with The Social Community (2010), which got here out when social media was changing into an integral a part of our lives; Imitation Recreation, whereas protecting an older subject, speaks to the present rise of expertise. Academy Award winners equivalent to Wolf of Wallstreet and The Huge Brief communicate to the current financial recession and discussions on wealth within the US.

This decade additionally marks when CGI turned extra superior, paving the way in which for alternatives to extra realistically or intricately cowl historic matters. For instance, movies equivalent to The Irishman (which used de-aging methods), 1917 and First Man match inside an “Oscar Bait” subgenre and have been all nominated for Academy Awards for his or her particular results.


So, is Oscar Bait actual?

Whereas our analysis doesn’t think about patterns equivalent to advertising influences and illustration amongst Academy members who decide the nominated and successful movies, it does recommend that many movies acknowledged by the Academy fall outdoors of “Oscar Bait” tropes. In lots of instances, labeling particular movies as such is overly simplistic and ignores broader movie traits. We’re curious to see if the 94th Academy Awards evolves this narrative.

Enthusiastic about attempting an identical evaluation your self? Study extra about Delta Reside Tables by requesting a Personal Preview.

Extra about IMDb

With a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of searchable knowledge gadgets — together with 8 million film, TV and leisure titles, 11 million forged and crew members and 12 million photos — IMDb is the world’s hottest and authoritative supply for data on films, TV reveals and celebrities, and has a mixed net and cellular viewers of greater than 200 million month-to-month guests.

IMDb enhances the leisure expertise by empowering followers and professionals all over the world with forged and crew listings for each film, TV sequence and online game, lifetime field workplace grosses from Field Workplace Mojo, proprietary movie and TV consumer rankings from IMDb’s world viewers of over 200 million followers, and rather more.

IMDb licenses data from its huge and authoritative database to third-party companies, together with movie studios, tv networks, streaming providers and cable corporations, in addition to airways, electronics producers, non-profit organizations and software program builders. Study extra at developer.imdb.com.



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