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Yes, you read that headline correctly — come hell or high water, six out of 10 Americans could not name a single best picture nominee, according to a new poll commissioned by The Hollywood Reporter that canvassed moviegoers on both sides of the political fence. But, hidden in the figures, there is some good news for the Academy: Seven in 10 respondents say they’ll be watching the Oscars anyway.
THR’s poll — conducted by the National Research Group, which in early February surveyed 800 people (half Hillary Clinton voters, half Donald Trump voters) for their opinions about movies, awards shows and politics — reveals some deep fissures in the moviegoing public, as well as some deep ignorance that crosses party lines. When prompted with the titles of nominated films, only 39 percent of Clinton voters, for instance, knew that La La Land was up for an Oscar, and even fewer Trump voters (26 percent) did. Only 16 percent of Clinton supporters knew that Moonlight was a best picture contender, compared to 6 percent of Trump supporters. But both sides were equally oblivious of Hell or High Water; 95 percent of each group didn’t know it’d been nominated.
On average, Clinton fans were slightly more cinema-aware and were more likely to have seen the nominated films: 31 percent of Clintonites said they had seen Arrival, compared to 28 percent of Trumpsters, while 22 percent of the former had seen Manchester by the Sea compared to 19 percent of the latter. The big exception was Hacksaw Ridge — 27 percent of Trump-voting moviegoers had seen the Mel Gibson World War II drama, while only 18 percent of Clintonistas had.
A bit of good news for Ryan Reynolds: The one film both groups had seen in very large numbers (56 percent of Clinton’s voters and 43 percent of Trump’s) was Deadpool. Unfortunately for the actor-producer, that film was not nominated.
A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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