9 MAR 2023

Which mood dominates this year’s best picture Oscar nominations?

Academy voters have primarily selected movies with a “powerful” or “fun” feel to them for this year’s best picture nominations, as nine of the 10 nominees are classified within one of these moods, according to Nielsen.

9 MAR 2023

"The Fabelmans"

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Five of the last six best picture Oscar winners have captured an “emotional->touching” mood, according to analysis of the films’ characteristics from Nielsen’s Gracenote. Only 2020 winner “Parasite” fell outside of this primary mood category. However, this run will likely be broken at the 95th Academy Awards on March 12 as only one of this year’s nominated films falls into this category, and can therefore continue this streak.

Academy voters have primarily selected movies with a “powerful” or “fun” feel to them for this year’s best picture nominations, as nine of the ten nominees are classified within one of these moods. "The Fabelmans," for example, is one of six of this year’s best picture nominees with a “powerful” mood, while "Everything Everywhere All At Once" is a good example of a “fun - humorous” title. “Top Gun: Maverick,” which is “tense,” is the only exception.

Meanwhile, five of the six main acting nominations for movies not in competition for best picture have been for “emotional” works. This recent domination of the best picture category by “emotional” films is unprecedented in the 94-year history of the Oscars. The closest domination by a specific mood was when “powerful” films won six of the 11 best picture Oscars from 2001 to 2011.

“Introspective” and “sensual” are Gracenote’s only primary moods to have not been the most important in films awarded a best picture Oscar to date. However, last year’s best picture nominee “Drive My Car,” which won the Academy Award for best international feature film, had “introspective” amongst its most important moods, according to Gracenote.

At the same time, films set in contemporary times are again popular with best picture voters. The last three best picture winners have had present-day settings, and if this is repeated this year, it will be the longest sequence of winners set contemporarily since the late-1940s.

Gracenote Video Descriptors are hierarchical metadata tags following a structured global taxonomy applied across entertainment content. They provide insight into movies and TV shows by capturing various mood, theme, subject, setting, scenario, and character aspects of the content. Video Descriptors leverage Gracenote IDs, unique identifiers for content throughout the entertainment ecosystem.

This data also enables Gracenote to analyze Oscar nominee and winner trends. Gracenote Video Descriptor for Mood captures 293 different moods, grouped into a four-level hierarchy headed by 17 primary level moods. For example, the primary level mood “fun” contains another 22 different moods within it, six at the second level, 11 at the third level (all within the second level mood “humorous”), and another five at the fourth level of the hierarchy.