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A Social Media Oscars Post-Mortem

by Eric Melin on March 9, 2010

in Blogs

Oscar Contender by BuzzLast week we spent some time discussing and tracking the 82nd Academy Awards. Now that the winners have their Oscars, and the smoke has cleared, we can stand back and look at our own study in social media discussion.

Let’s do a quick recap – Last Tuesday we asked “Can online monitoring predict the Oscars?“, a question we set out to answer by tracking the top three contenders for Best Picture: box office powerhouse Avatar, fan-favorite Inglourious Basterds, and critical darling The Hurt Locker (which just so happened to be this humble author’s favorite film of the year).

Specifically we wanted to see if online discussion could in any way act as a predictor towards who would walk away with that oh-so-coveted little gold man.

Throughout the week, a consistent trend occurred with Avatar leading, The Hurt Locker usually about 11-15% behind, and Inglourious Basterds typically another 3% behind The Hurt Locker.

Was there was a direct correlation between online chatter about three Best Picture candidates and those movies’ chances of winning the big prize at the Oscars Sunday night?

The short answer: not exactly.

In February, I predicted on my own that The Hurt Locker would win Best Picture in a YouTube video for Scene-Stealers. It was kind of a no-brainer. But I was curious to see what overall volume would show us.

Avatar had 42% of all online Best Picture discussion among the top three contenders (not surprising since its the highest grossing movie of all time), but it came up short Sunday night.

The Academy is a closed voting body and clearly online buzz didn’t affect their voting to the point of predicting the correct winner. That said, Avatar‘s loss Sunday night does illustrate the need to look at social media from the perspective of how it fits with outside datasets, and not merely as a stand-alone source.

In this case, maybe combining picks from industry analysts and movie critics (who championed underdog winner The Hurt Locker since its release last July) with the online data could have bolstered The Hurt Locker‘s position. Among those groups, The Hurt Locker was the clear favorite.

Some other takeaways:

  • Blogs accounted for 41% of the total URLs collected. This is where most of the conversation about these three nominees and the term “best picture” was taking place.
  • BPCloudSemantically, The Hurt Locker had a very solid presence, even beating out Avatar in the Inglourious Basterds insight.

  • In the Avatar insight, “hurt” was the fifth most-used word, “locker” was the sixth, and “basterds” was a distant third at 27th.
  • In the Inglourious Basterds insight, “hurt,” “locker,” and “avatar” were three, four, and five respectively.
  • To wrap-up: This recent Twitter study from NMS also bears out the notion that Avatar was clearly the most discussed film online. In that respect, our study was a success.

    While online samplings didn’t predict the Best Picture winner, they are certainly valuable in finding out all kinds of other metrics. After all, isn’t the Oscar supposed to be about artistic merit and not popularity?

    Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of and writes for The Pitch. He’s former President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls, Ultimate Fakebook, and Truck Stop Love . He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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