Golden Globe nominees: Will box office champs succeed during awards season?

Nominations for the Golden Globes this year include box office champions like 'Mad Max: Fury Road' and 'The Martian.' Will financially successful films be forces during the awards season?

Jasin Boland/Warner Bros. Pictures/AP
'Mad Max: Fury Road' stars Charlize Theron.

Does the average moviegoer recognize the film titles “Carol,” “Room,” or “Spotlight,” three of the movies that were nominated for prestigious Golden Globes this year? 

Possibly, but it’s far more likely they know the movies “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Martian,” two films that became box office champions this year and earned nominations alongside movies like “Carol” and “Room.” 

The awards season sometimes honors movies that are little-seen by mainstream audiences. (Last year’s Best Picture winner, “Birdman,” was the second-lowest-grossing winner of all time.) 

But this year, “Max,” one of the highest-grossing films of 2015, made the cut for the best drama Golden Globe category, while “Martian” is nominated for the best comedy or musical award and is looked upon as a strong contender for an Oscar Best Picture nomination along with “Max.”

By contrast, last year’s highest-grossing nominee in the drama or musical/comedy Golden Globes categories was “Into the Woods,” and that made a little more than half what “Martian” has made domestically. The other nominees didn’t even come close. 

Why are many of these movies less seen? Nominees such as “Carol” and “Room” are often put in limited release and then expanded later, meaning they are in fewer theaters when first released. 

The time of year at which many of these award contenders are released may also play a part. Some of them are released near the end of the year around the holidays. Does the average moviegoer want to see a movie like “Room,” which tells the story of a woman and her son who are kept captive, at this time of the year? Or would they rather turn to a crowd-pleaser, such as “Star Wars”? 

In addition, “Max” and “Martian” are both movies full of spectacle, with “Max” being made up largely of action scenes and “Martian” telling the story of a daring rescue in space. The two highest-grossing Best Picture winners of all time (not counting inflation), “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” both offered these as well. “Titanic” was praised for its special effects, while “King” was full of fantasy battle scenes. 

Oscar nominations have not yet been announced (they’ll come out in January) but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is no doubt hoping “Max” or “Martian” will make the cut for a Best Picture nod. The all-time best ratings for the Oscars telecast came when “Titanic” was nominated for and won Best Picture. People are no doubt more likely to tune in if a movie they saw and enjoyed is up for big prizes.

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