Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Writers Guild Awards

Columbia Pictures; DreamWorks; Weinstein

Wasn't expanding the number picture nominees for the Oscars suppose to allow more "popular" films to be entered? Instead of things like Avengers or Skyfall being nominated for Best Picture, it's just a large number of "art" pictures.
—Roy P, via Twitter

I don't think anybody really expected Avengers to go to the big show, but Skyfall? Yeah. Some folks did hope to see James Bond flick on the Best Picture list. And it wasn't.

But the premise of your question is still off. Because, get this: Lincoln? Argo? Django Unchained? Those aren't art-house pictures. They are—really, I mean it—mainstream. Maybe even popcorn pictures. And I can prove it.

Because, look: The great majority of the films poised to win big on Sunday? They're blockbusters. Django Unchained has wrangled $366 million worldwide—more than three times what it cost to make. The Silver Linings Playbook? About $105 million. Argo? About double that. And Lincoln—well, it's also definitely a box office hit, with more than $236 million grossed worldwide.

"What ended up happening is that art-house movies became box office hits," Gold Derby editor Tom O'Neil says. "Seven of nine Best Picture nominees will be near or over $100 million total at the box office next weekend."

Those numbers, for the record, are not the kind associated with art pictures. These are mainstream movies we're talking about. Is it possible that you might be mixing up "popular" films with "action" or "genre" pictures?

"I don't see these as art house pictures at all," Fordham University media professor Paul Levinson tells me. "They are unsually themed movies, but they certainly are mainstream in their presentation."

As for why so many people are flocking to such smart movies, well, that's a little tougher to figure.

"Joe Public is finding his brain, I guess," O'Neil posits.

Or just rediscovering a love of Civil-War-era history?

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