The 2007 Academy Awards were the first Oscars to be chronicled on Twitter in real time, by the Hollywood gossip blog Defamer. At the time, Twitter was a rather unknown novelty, but today it boasts millions of users and is an ever-updating reflection of the vox populi.
So many Twitter users have expressed opinions about this year’s Academy Awards race that it would be virtually impossible for someone to find and digest them all. That’s why The Times, IBM and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab created the Oscar Senti-meter, an online tool that can catalog a large number of Oscar-related tweets each day and uses language-recognition technology to analyze positive, negative and neutral opinions. It also counts the number of tweets.
Tweets captured by the Senti-meter on Feb. 26, the day of the awards ceremony, showed a massive increase in volume, as huge numbers of people took to Twitter to share their opinions about the show in real time. Check out this chart:
The volume of Oscar-related tweets first spiked at 5:41 p.m., coinciding with the first award of the night, cinematography, which went to “Hugo.” The win, an upset over “The Tree of Life,” sparked chatter on Twitter at a rate approaching 10,000 tweets per minute. In the two months leading up to the Oscars, the film “Hugo” averaged just over 2,500 tweets per day.
One Twitter user wrote, “Best Cinematography goes to HUGO! Over Tree of Life -- very interesting #oscars.”
By the end of the night, “Hugo” would take home five awards and rack up 107,041 total tweets.
The 6-o’clock hour broke the barrier of 10,000 tweets per minute twice, peaking at 6:58 p.m., when Christopher Plummer won the award for supporting actor for his role in “Beginners.” The award capped a season sweep for Plummer, who also won BAFTA, SAG and Golden Globe awards for his performance.
One Twitter user’s reaction: “Glad Plummer won. Beginners was better then some of the Best Picture nominees I saw. Looking at you Tree of Life & Moneyball. #Oscars.”
The highest spike of the night, and the only moment to break the barrier of 20,000 tweets per minute, was just after 8:24 p.m., when Meryl Streep won a lead-actress statuette for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” Many people had expected Viola Davis, of the Southern drama “The Help,” to win.
Twitter users reacted to Streep’s win with a mix of approval and disappointment. One user wrote, “I am so excited that Meryl Streep won Best Actress! I can't believe she only won 3 out of 17 times. She deserved so many more.”
Another user felt differently: “Streep is great; an icon; but her performance over Viola Davis in The Help? Really?”
According to the Senti-meter’s analysis, tweets about Davis were more likely to be positive than those about Streep.
All told, Streep was mentioned in 146,470 tweets on Feb. 26, more than 40 times her daily average in the two months leading up to the show, and Davis was mentioned in 27,036 tweets, more than the previous two months combined.
Overall, “The Help” and best-picture winner “The Artist” had the most positive sentiment among all movies.
One thing you can count on every year at the Oscars, no matter who wins, is that they’ll get people talking. Check out theinteractive Senti-meter tool, and read sample tweets, and track tweet volume for the entire awards season by clicking here.
-- Oliver Gettell
Photo: Lead-actress winner Meryl Streep with her husband Don Gummer, outside the Governors Ball, following the 84th annual Academy Awards, at the Hollywood & Highland Center. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times