Poll: US moviegoers would give Hidden Figures the best picture Oscar

US survey reveals the Nasa number-crunchers biopic is the hot favourite over La La Land, while filmgoers would like to see Fences star Denzel Washington and La La Land’s Emma Stone go home with the gold statuette

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2017, 12:28pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2017, 12:28pm

The musical La La Land hits all the right notes for film critics and awards pundits. However, Hidden Figures adds up to a more Oscar-worthy movie for audiences.

In a poll of more than 8,000 moviegoers conducted by movie-ticket site Fandango.com, the drama starring Taraji P. Henson as Nasa mathematician Katherine Johnson was the favourite to win best picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday. The film about the 1960s space race ranked No. 1 with 26 per cent of those film lovers who said they had seen all nine nominated pictures, just nudging out La La Land (25 per cent).

Arrival was third (with 13 per cent), followed by Hacksaw Ridge and Moonlight (tied with 10 per cent); Fences and Manchester by the Sea (both 5 per cent); and Hell or High Water and Lion (3 per cent).

Hidden Figures and La La Land are the two highest-grossing best picture nominees – with tallies of US$144.2 million (HK$1.12 billion) and US$134.4 million, respectively – and “the biggest crowd-pleasers of the year”, says Erik Davis, managing editor for Fandango.com and Movies.com. “If any film is going to upset La La Land’s potentially history-making Oscar night, it’ll be Hidden Figures.”

Reality versus escapism debated in the best picture Oscar race

Fences star Denzel Washington was the poll’s pick for best actor – with 34 per cent – and bested Casey Affleck (who finished fourth with 15 per cent), the early Manchester by the Sea favourite in the category that’s become a two-man race in recent weeks. Ryan Gosling (La La Land) was second with 24 per cent, Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge) came in third at 19 per cent and Viggo Mortensen ( Captain Fantastic ) was fifth with 8 per cent.

“Casey Affleck’s is a quieter performance, so maybe Denzel Washington stands out a little more with audiences,” says Davis. “He’s been around for a while and he has a huge fan base.”

La La Land’s Emma Stone is a popular pundits’ choice to take best actress and she’s the audience’s pick as well, with 44 per cent of the poll vote. “It speaks directly to how much people love her, how much they love the movie, and how much they love her in the movie,” says Davis. Natalie Portman ( Jackie ) snagged second place with 26 per cent, followed by Ruth Negga (Loving) and Meryl Streep ( Florence Foster Jenkins ) tied with 13 per cent, and Isabelle Huppert (Elle) with 4 per cent.

The best supporting actor race is one of the more interesting at this year’s Oscars, and while Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali is a slight favourite among experts, moviegoers broke for Jeff Bridges of Hell or High Water. His 29 per cent beat out Ali (27 per cent) by a mere two points, followed by Dev Patel (Lion) with 21 per cent, Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals) garnering 12 per cent, and Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) managing 11 per cent.

Like Washington, “Jeff Bridges is also this American acting icon,” Davis says. “There’s just more familiarity there.”