Research gives us mixed messages about whether award show trophies are any indicator of quality. Well, scholars, we'll break it down for you: It's all just a shell game bought and paid for by the studios.
There's an article in research journal Miller-McCune Magazine that reviews two studies that attempt to determine if the Oscar actually goes to the best movie. The first study looks at peer reviewed accolades (like the Oscars) and "expert-based panels" (like the New York Film Critics awards) and finds that those who win an Oscar "have a strong likelihood of having exhibited superlative cinematic creativity or achievement." It doesn't take into account that the critic-driven awards sway Oscar voting. Nor doesn't take into account the box office success of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Chipmunks 2: The Squeakuel, and Crash: The Academy Disaster, but those things can't be solved by science.
The second study looks at the Oscars and the Palm d'Or, the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, from 1950-1970 and the same movies reviewed by critics 20 years later and finds that the awards often don't stand the test of time. Are you trying to tell me Around the World in 80 Days isn't a classic?
Like, say, the popularity of Crocs, some things cannot be explained by science. We all know that the Oscars are a crock of shit. A fun, spangly, star-studded, cute-dress-wearing crock of shit with production numbers, yes. But a bedazzled turd is still a turd. It's all about politics, who mounted the best "Oscar campaign" by advertising in the trades, when it happens to be an "actor's time," box office receipts, long-held grudges, and other stupid factors that scholarly types can't take into account. Sure, you have to be at least moderately successful in some measure—critically, financially, artistically—to win an award. But the rest of it has as much to do with aesthetic merit as toe nail clippings have to do with July 4th.