Forty-six. That’s what Best Picture-nominated Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close scored on Metacritic. Think about that number for a minute: Have you ever been praised for such a low score on a test? It’s a decent completion percentage for a high-school quarterback or even a basketball player shooting from beyond the arc. But this is the Oscars we’re talking about. How is a film rated 46 (out of 100) worthy of being one of nine films nominated for the best film of the year?
Metacritic tabulates reviews from dozens of outlets and grades on the following scale:
•0-19: Overwhelming dislike
•20-39: Generally unfavorable
•40-60: Mixed or average reviews
•61-80: Generally favorable reviews
•81-100: Universal acclaim
Any score that falls beneath 60 is given a yellow score, which means precede with caution. Any score under 39 is given a red score, almost guaranteeing you’re in for an awful film.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close falls on the lower end of “mixed to average” reviews. Out of the nine films nominated this year, the next lowest is The Help, which scored a 62—generally favorable. Meanwhile, The Artist scored an 89 and the average for the eight films aside from Extremely Loud was 80.4.
Does this just mean the Academy’s new voting system can allow for a weak film to slip in? Not necessarily. The Ides of March (67), 50/50 (72), Bridesmaids (75) and My Week With Marilyn (65) were all nominated for a Golden Globe this year, something Extremely Loud didn’t achieve, but were all shut of out the Oscar race for Best Picture.
Then surely if the Academy could vote in a film with a score of 46 now, it has to have happened before, right?
We went as far back as 1984, which was the first year that Metacritic had no reported scores for any of the films nominated (aside from Amadeus, which was rereleased in 2002). Since 1984, there have been 10 films nominated that didn’t have a Metacritic score and three of them, Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Platoon (1986) and Out Of Africa (1985), won Best Picture. So it’s safe to say those 10 films without scores probably ranked well above a 46.
The Academy has certainly nominated films with mixed reviews before. There have been two dozen nominees that received a score below 70. Four of those films, Crash (69 in 2005), Gladiator (64 in 2000), Braveheart (68 in 1995) and Rain Man (65 in 1988) even took the award for Best Picture. While none of those films received a yellow rating via Metacritic, there have been six films nominated to fall into the same category as Extremely Loud. Still, none received below a 50.
You have to go all the way back to 1990 when Ghost received a score of 52 to find the previously worst-rated film to be nominated for an Oscar. The only other films entering the cautionary category were Life is Beautiful (59 in 1998), Scent of a Woman (59 in 1992), The Godfather Part III (60 in 1990), Field of Dreams (57 in 1989) and The Accidental Tourist (53 in 1988).
We were a tad more charitable, giving Extremely Loud a 5.8, noting that the “actors [did] the best they can with the static screenplay.” But we never imagined it would get an Oscar nod.
The Academy Awards have been around since 1929, so it’s difficult to say Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close is the worst-reviewed nominee in history, but it’s certainly the worst for at least 28 years.