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2014联考英语阅读:“小金人”背后的秘密

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2014年05月14日 【我要咨询】 】 来源:清华在线

  If the Oscars seem boring and predictable to you this year, then you're in good company. Sociologists have considered the Academy Awards predictable for a long time.

  A few weeks ago, I spoke with Gabriel Rossman, a UCLA sociologist with some of the most interesting research on the intersection of economics and pop culture. Rossman has two fascinating papers about the Oscars. The first addressed the tantalizing question: What qualities of a movie best predict Oscars nominations?

  Unsurprisingly, the biggest correlation was being in a very serious movie. Considering 172,000 performances listed on IMDB in 20,000 movies, Rossman and co-author Nicole Esparza found that dramas were were nine times more likely to get nominations.

  The second and third best predictors both had to do with the size of the competition. When there are fewer films released around awards season, the odds that any one movie gets a nomination increases. This simple principle applies, rather unfortunately, to actresses, as well. It's an industry truism, borne out in the evidence, that women have fewer meaty roles in the types of movies likely to be nominated for an Oscar. That means any one dramatic end-of-year performance by a woman has a higher chance of earning a nomination.

  Perhaps the most substantive finding in the paper is that people with high IMDB movie rankings in past movie credits were more likely to work with other stars, doubling their chances at getting a nomination. “Actors are going to look good when they work with talented people," Rossman told the Daily Bruin. "This is an interesting thing since you tend to get talented people working with other talented people, meaning that people will end up looking even better than when just working alone.”

  Maybe this seems completely obvious to you: Better actors get better parts and then get to work with better directors (hello, Leonardo DiCaprio). But it's also a classic example of what sociologists call cumulative advantage or the "Matthew Effect," named after the passage in Matthew where Jesus says "For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich." This isn't as simple as the rich getting richer. It's the idea that slightly more talented people get access to higher-quality support for their talents, which greatly multiplies the benefits of their innate advantage (e.g.: smarter students going to colleges with better professors and better career services connections).

  The fact that movies with stars get more Oscar attention might be an indication that Hollywood's stars are simply better than its non-stars. But probably not. It's much more likely a sign that (just as you might have suspected) we're bad picking out discrete instances of talent in star-studded projects. This would imply we—or, at least, the Academy—is just as bad at recognizing Oscar-worthy talentin movies without any past Oscar nominees. In both cases, the context overwhelms our ability to recognize individual achievement.

  Rossman's second Oscar paper is about audiences and prizes. Some producers really want to win Oscars. These producers would also, presumably, like to make money. The problem is that audiences don't like most movies that are "Academy Award movies"—here defined as late-year releases about serious subjects (like AIDS, slavery, or technological dystopia)—so the business of making an Oscar-y movie is high-risk with dubiously high reward.

  Rossman explains it well:

  It turns out that audiences dislike movies that are *trying* to get Oscar nominations but really like movies that actually *get* Oscar nominations. By inference, if there were no Oscars to drive box office towards them, there would be far fewer movies about historical protagonists overcoming oppression. Indeed, it looks like Hollywood basically nails it since they make exactly the right number of Oscar-targeted movies that the two effects balance out on average.

  To the victors go the spoils, kind of. Best Picture winners can expect a 22 percentraise in box office after a nomination and another 15 percent bump if they win, according to IBISWorld. But the financial calculations probably miss the best reasons to try to make an Oscar movie: To win accolades within the industry, to win access to stars who can make you more money down the line and, just maybe, to bask in the honor of making a truly great film.

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  如果你觉得今年的奥斯卡很无聊,结果在你的预料之中,那么你和很多人想到一块去了。社会学家早就认为奥斯卡奖是可以预测的。

  几周前,我和加布里尔?罗斯曼(洛杉矶加州大学的一位社会学家)聊起经济和流行文化结合方面最有意思的一些研究。罗斯曼手头有两篇关于奥斯卡的论文,很有意思。第一篇解答了一直困扰人们的问题:一部影片具备什么样的条件才能获得奥斯卡提名?

  令人并不感到意外的是,最大的因素是和影片的严肃性相关。通过研究IMDB上20000部影片的172000次点映,罗斯曼和论文的另一个作者妮可?埃斯帕扎发现,剧情片比其他类型影片获提名的可能性高出九倍。

  第二大和第三大因素都和竞争的规模相关。当颁奖季上映的影片很少时,任何一部影片获得提名的机会就增加了。很不幸的是,这个简单的规则同样适用于女演员获奖提名。有证据表明,在可能被提名奥斯卡奖的影片里,内容充实的女性角色很少,这是行规。这意味着,一个女演员年末任何一个打动人心的表演都很可能获得提名。

  也许论文最重大的发现是,在过去的影片评分中,影片获得IMDB高评分的人更容易和其他明星相处,使得他们得到提名的机会也翻了一番。罗斯曼告诉《洛杉矶加州大学校报》“演员和有才华的人合作将表现良好”,“这是件很有意思的事,因为你倾向于使有才华的人聚在一起工作,这意味着他们最后会比一个人工作时表现要好。”

  可能你很明白:好的演员得到好的角色,能够和好的导演一起共事。但是这也是一个典型的被社会学家称为积累优势或“马太效应”的例子。“马太效应”这个名字来源于《马太福音》,在这部著作中耶稣说道“凡有的,还要给他更多使他变得富有。”这并不是简单的“富有的变得更加富有”。这说的是稍微更具才华的人会获得更优质的支持从而大幅增加他们固有的优势(例如,更聪明的学生上大学接触更好的老师获得更好的职业发展机会)。

  有明星的影片会得到奥斯卡更多的关注,这可能表明好莱坞的明星比不是明星的演员更出色。但恐怕不是这样。(正如你所怀疑的那样)这可能更多地表明在众星云集的电影行业中,我们不善于挑选出个别的有才华的演员。这暗示,我们——或至少是奥斯卡——一样地不善于认可没有任何曾提名过奥斯卡的演员但颇具才气、值得奥斯卡奖的影片。在这两种情况下,大环境支配我们认可个人成就的能力。

  罗斯曼第二篇关于奥斯卡的论文是关于观众和奖项的。一些制作人真的很想要获得奥斯卡奖。这些制作人可能想赚钱。问题是,大部分的“奥斯卡奖影片”——这里指的是上映的晚,话题沉重(像艾滋病、奴隶制、技术敌托邦)——观众都不喜欢。因此,制作一个为奥斯卡量身定制的影片这门生意是风险很高的,高回报则不一定。

  这一点罗斯曼解释得很好:

  事实上,观众不喜欢“试图”得到奥斯卡提名的影片,但确实喜欢真正"得到"奥斯卡提名的影片。根据推理,如果没有奥斯卡推动票房,那么关于战胜压迫的历史人物的影片将会少之又少。的确,好像好莱坞基本上敲定了奥斯卡,因为他们生产的影片的数量正好是奥斯卡需要的影片数量,他们基本上持平了。

  胜利者总有点备受宠爱。据市场研究公司IBISWorld讲,最佳摄影奖获得者在提名之后可以获得票房的22%,在获奖之后可以再获得15%。但是光计算金钱可能遗漏掉试图制造一部奥斯卡影片的最佳原因:在本行业内赢得荣誉,获得将来能为你赚更多钱的明星,或仅仅是为了获得制作一部真正伟大影片的荣誉。

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