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Were These the Most Boring Oscars Ever? We Have Mathematical Proof

Sure, these Oscars were yawningly predictable, as the top six awards — Picture, Director, and all the acting categories — went to exactly the people everyone thought they would go to. If your Oscar party was like ours, there was more drama in Best Animated Short (Wallace and Gromit finally lost, everyone!) than in the top awards. In fact, everyone at our Oscar party left before they even got to Director.

But can we quantify exactly how boring they were? How do they compare to the past ten years of boring Oscars, for example? We can prove unequivocally that the 2010 Oscars were the most boring Oscars of the past ten years.

Obviously, expressed in easy-to-understand mathematics, Boringness of any given Oscars is a function of five factors:

Length of ceremony.
• The number of Non-Surprises in major categories. Awards that made us yawn, because we were hoping Juliette Binoche would beat Lauren Bacall again.
• Any kind of history-making award, a First, like the first black actor winning a lead category, or the first female director winning.
Host Unpredictability. Might the host literally do or say anything, for good (Jackman) or for ill (Rock)? Or do we pretty much know everything the host is going to do before it happens? A perfectly predictable host gets a score of 1, with more exciting hosts garnering higher scores.
• A Dress Bonus, if anyone wore something so outlandish that we remember it even today.

Or, more simply:


So how boring were this year's Oscars?

Length: The ceremony was 3.62 hours long — the fourth-longest of the past ten years.
Non-Surprises: All six major categories were non-surprises.
Firsts: History was made twice, with Kathryn Bigelow winning Best Director and a teensy-grossing film winning Best Picture.
Host Unpredictability: Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were perfectly predictable, for an HU of 1.0.
Dress Bonus: Zero. This year's red carpet had its ups and downs, but it was sadly disaster-free.

So! B (2010) = 19.72. That's almost twenty Boring Units!

And Vulture's careful calculations reveal that yes, indeed, these were the most boring Oscars in the past ten years. You weren't imagining it!


2001
Length: 3.38 hours.
Non-Surprises: The year is rich with surprises, as three underdogs take major awards. Pollock's Marcia Gay Harden defeats Almost Famous ingenue Kate Hudson. Russell Crowe's performance in Gladiator wins out over astonishing turns from Tom Hanks (Cast Away) and Ed Harris (Pollock). And then Gladiator itself defeats the favored Traffic and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for Best Picture.
Firsts: No history made this year; Benicio del Toro is the third Puerto Rican to win an Oscar. Julia Roberts is the first-ever Julia Roberts to win one, though.
Host Unpredictability: Steve Martin: Will he be exciting? No. 1.0.
Dress Bonus: The most interesting Oscar dress ever was worn by Björk. We're giving her three points for this one, seriously.

B (2001) = 7.14. An extremely non-boring Oscar ceremony!


2002
Length: A mind-boggling 4.38 hours.
Non-Surprises: At least there was a surprise, as Iris's Jim Broadbent beat both Ben Kingsley (Sexy Beast) and Ian McKellen (Gandalf!).
Firsts: A big year for history-making, as Halle Berry and Denzel Washington become the first black actors to win lead the first all-black sweep in the lead categories.
Host Unpredictability: Whoopi Goldberg was awful, but sometimes she surprised you in the particular manner of her awfulness. 1.1.
Dress Bonus: Gwyneth Paltrow and Faith Hill offered the yin and the yang of red-carpet disasters.

B (2002) = 17.00.


2003
Length: 3.50 hours.
Non-Surprises: Only three of six! The Pianist's Adrien Brody surprises everybody (especially Halle Berry) by beating Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York) and Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt) for Best Actor. His director, Roman Polanski, beats Scorsese. And Chris Cooper (Adaptation) surprises Road to Perdition's Paul Newman for Supporting Actor.
Firsts: The first director who couldn't enter the country owing to outstanding rape charges ever to win Best Director? Not momentous enough.
Host Unpredictability: Steve Martin fails to blow anybody away his second time this decade. 1.0.
Dress Bonus: Well, Hilary Swank wore this.

B (2003) = 9.50.


2004
Length: 3.73 hours.
Non-Surprises: A minor upset, as Charlize Theron beats Diane Keaton (Something's Gotta Give) for a movie, Monster, that no one besides Roger Ebert has ever seen.
Firsts: None, really, other than that a bunch of hobbits won Best Picture for the first time ever.
Host Unpredictability: Billy Crystal reused a bunch of his jokes from 1991, we think. In fact, he doesn't even reach 1.0 on the Predictability Meter. Let's give him a 0.9.
Dress Bonus: Take your pick between Uma Thurman's Heidi number and Diane Keaton's suit-based whatsit.

B (2004) = 18.72.


2005
Length: The awards come in at a fantastic 3.28 hours.
Non-Surprises: Five of six. Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby) swipes what was supposed to be Martin Scorsese's first Oscar, for The Aviator.
Firsts: No history made.
Host Unpredictability: Chris Rock wasn't a good host, but he wasn't a boring one, that's for sure! 1.9.
Dress Bonus: Melanie Griffith's mesh-back remains seared on our brains.

B (2005) = 7.63. Exemplary! That's hardly boring at all!


2006
Length: 3.55 hours.
Non-Surprises: Five of six awards are shoo-ins, but Crash shocks and embarrasses everyone by taking Best Picture over Brokeback Mountain.
Firsts: Ang Lee is the first Asian ever to win Best Director, although no one seemed that worked up about it at the time.
Host Unpredictability: Jon Stewart's unpredictability is high at first, but sinks quickly as we realize he's not actually gonna do anything. 1.3.
Dress Bonus: Zero.

B (2006) = 12.88.


2007
Length: 3.85 hours, brutal.
Non-Surprises: Five of six after Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) beats Norbit-cursing Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls).
Firsts: No history made.
Host Unpredictability: We don't remember a single thing Ellen DeGeneres said or did. 1.0.
Dress Bonus: Zero.

B (2007) = 19.25.


2008
Length: 3.35 hours.
Non-Surprises: Once again, six front-runners take the big awards.
Firsts: None.
Host Unpredictability: Jon Stewart was fine, but not all that exciting. Let's put his Unpredictability at 1.2.
Dress Bonus: Zero.

B (2008) = 16.75.


2009
Length: 3.50 hours.
Non-Surprises: Again, all six categories are non-surprises.
Firsts: Heath Ledger wasn't the first posthumous Oscar recipient, so as powerful as that moment was, it doesn't add points here.
Host Unpredictability: Vulture-beloved host Hugh Jackman was the best of the decade! At literally any moment he could've broken into song. Unpredictability: 2.0.
Dress Bonus: Zero.

B (2009) = 10.50.

Photo: Courtesy of AMPAS and ABC