Typically, the top of the box office films hang out in the PG-13 range, whether it's action, sci-fi, or sequels.
But when it comes to the Oscar films, some years are very R-rated.
Take the Oscar nominees for 2005-2008 films (the four most recent years with only five nominations for Best Picture) where consistently 80% R Rated. The Oscar nominations consistently had four of the 5 vacancies filled with R-rated films, with one non-R film for each of the four years (those four non-R films were: Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Juno, The Queen, and Good Night, and Good Luck).
The wider 10 field Oscar race increased the field, and over the past couple years we've seen less than 80% R-ratings in the Academy Award best picture nominees.
2009 Oscar nominees were 60% R-Rated (non R-rated films were Avatar, The Blind Side, An Education, and Up)
In 2010 Oscar nominees were 70% R-Rated (non R-rated films were Inception, The Social Network, and Toy Story 3).
Now, it's hard to tell what the final nominees will be for this year's Oscar ceremony, and more specifically exactly how many films will get in with updated nomination rules, but I can anticipate it will be one of the lowest percentages of R-rated films we've seen in a long time.
Of all the top films of 2011 expected to have a shot at a nomination, only one top contender was rated R, The Descendants. There's a couple other potential nominees who could slip in that are rated R (such as J. Edgar, Bridesmaids, or Ides of March) but these films do not represent the top of the field.
The 7 Most Likely Oscar Nominees and Film Rating:
- The Artist (Rated PG-13)
- The Descendants (Rated R)
- The Help (Rated PG-13)
- Hugo (Rated PG)
- Midnight in Paris (Rated PG-13)
- Moneyball (Rated PG-13)
- War Horse (Rated PG-13)
7 Other Less-Likely Oscar Nominees and Film Ratings:
- Bridesmaids (Rated R)
- Drive (Rated R)
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Rated PG-13)
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Rated R)
- The Ides of March (Rated R)
- J. Edgar (Rated R)
- The Tree of Life (Rated PG-13)
I'm not sure why we see this year, but I will be interested to see what the final percentage is and if this year is an anomaly or a shift to "top Oscar films" being more likely to be a member of the PG-13 crowd?