Oscar Nominations: Which Films Got the Most Bang For Their Buck?

by Alyssa Oursler | January 10, 2013 11:35 am

The 2013 Oscar Nominees[1] (as I’m sure you’ve heard) were announced this morning, and Lincoln is making headlines left and right as a result.

The Steven Spielberg film led the field for the 85th Academy Awards with an impressive 12 nominations, including best picture, best director, best actor in a leading role, best actress in a supporting role, best music and more.

Those 12 nods, though, came at a price; namely, a budget of $65 million. That’s nothing crazy in the film world, but it does work out to a price-per-nomination of $5.4 million — hardly a bargain. In fact, several other movies pocketed a good chunk of nominations as well … and got much more bang for their buck.

The best deal, out of all films that got five or more nominations, was Amour. It was nominated for best picture, best actress in a leading role, best foreign language film, best directing and best writing, and those five nods were a steal. The film cost only $9.5 million to make — the cheapest out of the ten with five or more nominations — which comes out to just under $2 million per category.

Not far behind was the popular romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook and the tale of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty. Both had similar budgets — $21 million and $20 million, respectively — but the former took home three more nominations. As a result, each one only cost around $2.6 million, while Zero Dark Thirty‘s nods came at a price of $4 million each.

While we focused on films that got five nods for this list, we can’t overlook Beasts of the Southern Wild. The film was notable not just for the four awards it’s up for — best actress in a leading role (Quvenzhane Wallis, the youngest nominee for the category ever), best picture, best directing and best writing — but also for its tiny budget of just $1.8 million. Yes, that works out to only $450,000 per nod.

That’s a far cry from the price-tag for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (best picture, best cinematography, best sound editing, best writing and best actor in a supporting role), which was the most expensive of the top nominees. The gory, almost three-hours-long film had an eye-popping budget of $100 million, making each nod around $20 million. That’s ten times more than Amour‘s price-per-nomination and almost four times more than pack-leader Lincoln‘s.

Giving Lincoln a run for its money at first glance was Life of Pi, the visually lush film that was nominated for an impressive 11 categories, including best picture, best cinematography, best director and best visual effects. At closer look, though, Lincoln actually topped it not just in nominations, but in relative price. Ang Lee’s visual masterpiece cost $120 million, which boils $11 million per nomination — the third most expensive for films with five or more nods.

The other high-end flick was Skyfall — the latest James Bond movie with a budget of $200 million. It got five nods at $40 million a pop. Faring slightly better was the popular musical Les Miserables ($7.6 million per nomination) and Ben Afflecks’ Argo ($6.4 million per nomination).

Of course, nominations are just the beginning. Even a whopping price tag for a few nods will undoubtedly be worth it if it results in a golden Oscar statue next month.

  1. 2013 Oscar Nominees: http://oscar.go.com/nominees

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