Word of Mouth - Academy Awards

When it came to the Oscars, buzz and awards went hand in hand for Slumdog.

The Oscars are all about glitz and glamour: another occasion for the stars of Hollywood to congratulate each other, shed a well-rehearsed tear, and for the female stars to etch their glimmering dresses into the imaginations of housewives the world over. Jam - i-level's social media unit - looks at the online chatter following the nominees, and who were the eventual winners and losers in the share of buzz stakes.

With many sites offering real-time commentary of the ceremony and Twitter bustling with predictions and lamentations, it seemed that everyone had an opinion on the Academy Awards, many of whom chose to share them online.

And the winners are.....

Best Picture
This year's stand-out film was Slumdog Millionaire, a British film, shot in India which allowed the director and actors to leave America with a swag of 8 cherished Oscars. The Academy Awards ceremony held few surprises, evident when the data and discussion surrounding the Awards online is analysed.

Share of Oscars buzz around Best Picture Nominations. Source: Onalytica.

Slumdog Millionaire's buzz in the context of its fellow Best Picture nominees showed that mentions of the film far outweighed its competition, receiving a 32% share of voice. It is interesting to note that while Benjamin Button was nominated for three more awards than Slumdog, it only managed to garner an 18% share of buzz. It would seem that in this case, discussion equated to awards. The bookies agreed, but had you been a Slumdog fan and, in the spirit of the film, taken a gamble; you'd be far from a millionaire. In fact, those who bet on Boyle winning the Oscar for Best Director, stood to gain merely one pound on every six pounds wagered.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Heath Ledger was virtually guaranteed the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, reflected in the 46% share of voice versus his fellow nominees. However, his sentiment levels were reduced due to the dark nature of his role as the Joker, further heightened by his untimely death. Philip Seymour Hoffman, whilst only having a 12% share of buzz, received 44% positive comments compared to Heath's 11%. Ledger's Oscar was the first given posthumously since Peter Finch's award for the 1976 film Network.

Oscars Sentiment of Supporting Actor Nominations. Source: Onalytica.

Actor in a Leading Role
Yet, share of voice isn't necessarily an apt indicator of propensity to win. By glancing at the share of buzz amongst contenders for Best Male Actor, it would be easy to conclude that it was a relatively equal race between Rourke, Penn and Pitt. However, when the data is factored to account for influence: Rourke's share of voice gains 7%, while Pitt and Penn remain relatively static. This is due to Pitt being picked up by more sites dealing with his love-life and celebrity family rather than his acting. Furthermore, Rourke's true-to-life role as a washed-up prize-fighter in ‘The Wrestler' is more accessible than Penn's politically-laden, dramatic piece ‘Milk'.

Share of Oscars buzz around Best Actor Nominations. Source: Onalytica.

Share of Oscars buzz around Best Actor Nominations (weighted for influence). Source: Onalytica.

Actress in a Leading Role
Competition was fierce between Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet for the Best Actress gong this year. Streep has been nominated no less than 15 times (including 12 leading actress nominations), yet hasn't won in 27 years. Prior to this year, Winslet had been nominated for 6 Academy Awards and has so far gone home empty handed.

However, the buzz sentiment tracker predicted Winslet's victory. Apart from a slight stumble, as a fake winners list was circulating and Friday afternoon doubts were being reported, Winslet's path to pick up an Oscar was largely confirmed. The drastic increase in sentiment occurred, unsurprisingly, as reports of her win spread instantaneously across the internet on Monday morning. Publicity that galvanises audiences is why Hollywood (like-Adland) love their  awards.

Oscars Context Sentiment around Best Actress Nominations. Source: Onalytica.

As the champagne flutes are collected once more and the buzz moves from the Oscars to the next hot topic, it's clear how fleeting these awards are. Apart from The Dark Knight it's interesting to note that all winning films were released since the New Year, showing that timing is everything if you wish to appease the short attention span of the judges and the box office. Yet, as surely as films will be made and people continue to communicate - discussion about films will occur online, with or without prompting by the Academy.

Methodology: Jam uses data from buzz analytics firm Onalytica to track conversations across the web. Influence is a weight that is calculated by analysing the structure of references between all participants in the debate. To suggest a Buzz topic, e-mail rich.sutcliffe@haymarket.com

Author: Tom Hyde


www.i-level.com / www.onalytica.com


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