Oscars Best Picture flip-flops between blockbuster and indie fare

Ever since “Million Dollar Baby” scored the Best Picture knock-out in 2004 and earned almost exactly $100 million, we’ve seen a curious trend with the top Oscar winners.

All of the Best Pictures released in even-numbered years were box office blockbusters that raked in more than $100 million, while all of the champions released in odd-numbered years (beginning with “Crash” in 2005) made less than this.

So whose turn is it this year — a blockbuster or an indie? Let’s look at early ticket sales from this year’s top Best Picture contenders to gain some perspective. (Be sure to cast your vote for Best Picture at the bottom of this post.)

Since last year’s winner “Argo” earned an impressive $136 million at the domestic box office, the pattern would suggest that 2013 is a year for a smaller film to take home the top prize.

According to Gold Derby’s experts, editors and users, the most likely winner of this year’s Best Picture Oscar with 4/1 odds is “12 Years a Slave.” The Steve McQueen film has amassed $33 million as of Dec. 5, which fits nicely with the decade’s box office pattern and helps cement its Oscar chances.

Smaller grosses could also mean good news for other box office indies like “Nebraska” ($1.7 million), “Blue Jasmine” ($32 million) and “Fruitvale Station” ($16 million), all of which place in Gold Derby’s top twelve according to our polling.

The film with the second best chance to win is “Gravity” with 5/1 odds, but since that blockbuster is hovering around $250 domestically, should we discount its Best Picture chances? Other top Oscar contenders that topped the box office charts include “Captain Phillips” ($103 million) and “The Butler” ($115 million). The good news? These flicks earned bucko bucks! The bad news? History is not on their side to reap a Best Picture victory.

Keep in mind that several Best Picture contenders haven’t opened wide yet, including third place ranked “Saving Mr. Banks” (Dec. 20), fourth place “American Hustle” (Dec. 18), fifth place “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Dec. 25), seventh place “Inside Llewyn Davis” (Dec. 20) and 11th place “August: Osage County” (Dec. 25).

Below, see the flip-flopping pattern of the past decade of Oscar winners along with their domestic box office totals, courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

2012 “Argo” – $136,024,128

2011 “The Artist” – $44,671,682

2010 “The King’s Speech” – $135,453,143

2009 “The Hurt Locker” – $17,017,811

2008 “Slumdog Millionaire” – $141,319,928

2007 “No Country for Old Men” – $74,283,625

2006 “The Departed” – $132,384,315

2005 “Crash” – $54,580,300

2004 “Million Dollar Baby” – $100,492,203

What do you think is going to win Best Picture? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu. 

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