Trying to predict winners at the Academy Awards can be like trying to read tea leaves, but thanks to tools like The Times’ Oscar Senti-meter, which analyzes Oscar-related buzz on Twitter, we can bring a bit of “Moneyball”-like analysis to the process.
Examining tweets captured by the Senti-meter in the wake of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, held Feb. 12 in London, shows that BAFTA-watching Twitter users had a lot to say about silent-film star Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”), hometown hero Gary Oldman (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”) and perennial favorite Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”).
The Senti-meter is an interactive tool developed by The Times, IBM and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab that analyzes opinions about the Academy Awards race by combing through and cataloging a high volume of tweets each day. It uses language-recognition technology to gauge positive, negative and neutral opinions shared in the messages, and it also tracks the number of tweets.
Take, for example, “The Artist,” which is nominated for 10 Oscars and won best picture, director, screenplay and lead actor at the BAFTAs: In the three days leading up to the British awards, “The Artist” was mentioned in 1,253, 1,331 and 1,166 tweets, a daily average of 1,250 tweets. On Feb. 12, the day of the BAFTAs, the Twitterverse exploded with 10,296 tweets about the film, a more than eight-fold increase.
The high volume consisted largely of congratulatory and celebratory tweets, such as “The Artist Best Film !!! #BAFTA ! :D #Proud” and “Fantastic that The Artist did so well. Wonderful, charming film.”
Dujardin, the French leading man of “The Artist,” also received a BAFTA bump after he won the award for lead actor. Dujardin averaged about 454 tweets per day from Feb. 9-11, but shot up to 2,330 on Feb. 12, an increase of more than five times.
One Dujardin fan put it this way: “So happy Jean Dujardin wins BAFTA. Just one more to go ... two weeks tonight #Oscar.”
Dujardin also received some Twitter buzz after guest appearances on “Saturday Night Live,” reprising his silent-star persona, and on the website Funny or Die, humorously auditioning for a surfeit of stereotypical French bad-guy roles.
Among the actors Dujardin bested at the BAFTAs was Englishman Oldman, star of the thriller “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” Oldman remains a long shot to win lead actor at the Oscars (his first-ever nomination), but perhaps he can take some consolation in having lots of fans on Twitter.
Averaging about 119 tweets per day going into the BAFTAs, Oldman shot up to 1,502 on Feb. 12, an increase of more than 12 times. One Oldman supporter (and Grammy hater) tweeted, “grammys can suck my toes, on the other hand the baftas was delightful S/O to Gary Oldman you was snubbed but still a winner and legend.”
Oldman’s movie also won awards for outstanding British film and adapted screenplay. Averaging 900 tweets over the previous three days, “Tinker Tailor” racked up 5,488 tweets the day of the awards, a more than six-fold increase. Positive sentiment for the film, which has occasionally been deemed boring and confusing by Twitter users, also edged upward.
One Twitter user wrote, “So glad Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy won Best British Film at #Baftas. It was brilliant, and should have gotten more Oscar nods.”
Meanwhile, BAFTA-winning actress Streep, who portrays former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the biopic “The Iron Lady,” continued her reign as a favorite Twitter subject. From an average of 1,695 tweets per day captured by the Senti-meter leading up to the BAFTAs, Streep skyrocketed to 14,725 tweets upon winning the lead actress award, dwarfing any other actress (or actor, for that matter).
For comparison, “The Help” star Viola Davis, who is widely considered the other Oscar front-runner alongside Streep for lead actress, managed only 364 tweets the same day.
In the words of one Streep fan, “I love meryl Streep! Superb actress! Classy all round! So happy she won tonight! Bring on the Oscar.”
That said, neither the BAFTA awards nor the Twitterverse is a foolproof predictor of Oscar success; we’ll have to wait till Feb. 26 to be sure. Until then, though, we can see what all the talk is about.
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— Oliver Gettell