Nearly 40 percent of Americans surveyed by Emerson Polling last month had no idea which film should win the Academy Award for Best Picture on Sunday, but among those who did, Joker came out on top.
Of 964 respondents, 15.7 percent selected Joker – Todd Phillips’ origin story of the DC villain starring Joaquin Phoenix – as the nominee most deserving of an Oscar.
According to Emerson Polling, which released the results of two film-related polls ahead of the School of Communication’s annual Oscar Talk event in Los Angeles on February 6, the results seem to reflect the box office success of Joker, but not the critical praise of Oscar frontrunners 1917, Parasite, and Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.
Rounding out the top three were Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, at 9.6 percent, and Sam Mendes’ 1917, at 9.3 percent.
“These results show that there isn’t a clear frontrunner in the Oscar race for Best Picture among the audience, as well as the critics,” said Owen Eagan, a senior lecturer in Communication Studies at Emerson and the creator/moderator of Oscar Talk.
The poll also asked respondents about their film viewing habits, both in theaters and on streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu. Emerson Polling found that 83.3 percent attend the movies at least a few times per year, and 82.9 percent watch movies on streaming services at least a few times a year.
Frequent streamers are also those most likely to go out to see a movie, according to the survey.
“[I]t seems that there is significant overlap between moviegoers and streamers, which bodes well for the cinema industry,” Eagan said.
The poll was conducted January 21-23.
Survey: Singleton Among Most Influential Filmmakers
In a separate poll conducted during the same time period, Emerson Polling found that the majority, 56.3 percent, of African Americans agree or strongly agree that director John Singleton is among the most influential filmmakers in Hollywood history.
Singleton, director of Boyz N the Hood, Poetic Justice, and Higher Learning, among others, was the first African American and the younger director nominated for an Academy Award.
“Throughout his career, Singleton transformed how black lives were portrayed on screen and his work had a profound impact on the industry,” said Gil Robertson, president of the African American Film Critics Association. This year’s Oscar Talk featured a tribute to Singleton, who died in 2019 at the age of 51.
The survey also asked respondents if they felt that Hollywood was making more movies that reflect the lives and experiences of people like them. A total of 43.3 percent of African Americans said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, compared to 46.2 percent of Hispanics or Latinx, and 58.9 percent of Asians. Just 34.5 percent of women agreed that Hollywood was making more movies that reflected men and women equally.