When Oscar nominations were revealed on Jan. 24, certain snubs — Ryan Gosling, Albert Brooks, Tilda Swinton, “Bridesmaids” — really hit a nerve. Disaffected fans, including some celebrities, expressed their dismay on Twitter.
Australian actor Russell Crowe was among the many people who voiced disappointment when Gosling wasn't nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in “The Ides of March” or “Drive.” “Ryan Gosling didn't get an Academy nomination? There's some [nonsense] right there,” Crowe tweeted on Jan. 25 (although he used a more colorful word than “nonsense”).
The Oscar Senti-meter — an online tool developed by the L.A. Times, IBM and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab — analyzes opinions about the Academy Awards race shared in millions of public messages on Twitter. One interesting application of the Senti-meter is examining the effect of celebrity tweets.
The Senti-meter combs through a high volume of tweets daily and uses language-recognition technology, developed in collaboration with USC's Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab, to gauge positive, negative and neutral opinions shared in the messages. It also tracks the number of tweets.
More than 2,500 users retweeted Crowe's initial message about Gosling. Crowe continued the Gosling chatter the next day when he wrote, “I note that the australian academy has nominated Fassbender and Gosling for Best International actor,” referring also to “Shame” star Michael Fassbender and the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts International Awards. (Jean Dujardin of “The Artist” would ultimately take home the award.)
Looking at the Senti-meter from Jan. 25 to 26, the tweet count for Gosling and his award prospects rose from 754 to 893, partly powered by Crowe's tweets, and positive sentiment for Gosling also rose. Gosling's tweet count continued its climb through Jan. 27, hitting 1,043 total tweets.
Another celebrity who has proved capable of moving the needle is pop starlet Miley Cyrus. On Jan. 23, she tweeted, “‘Midnight in Paris' makes me want to go back to the most romantic city in the world,” a reference to the Woody Allen film starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams.
The sentiment was retweeted more than 6,000 times and prompted replies both positive, such as “@MileyCyrus its like one of the best movies of 2011? #amazing ‘Midnight in Paris' #MidnightInParis,” and negative, including “@MileyCyrus I was disapointed w ‘Midnight in Paris'-- regardless, it still made me mad-jealous of Luke [sic] Wilson.”
Between Jan. 22 and 23, the Senti-meter data shows the tweet count for “Midnight in Paris” rising from 1,723 to 2,404, an increase of nearly 40%. Positive sentiment for the film also shot up on Jan. 23, reaching its highest point. Replies and retweets continued to ripple for days afterward.
Comedian Michael Ian Black racked up 1,274 retweets with a quip about Meryl Streep on Jan. 15, the night Streep won lead actress in a drama at the Golden Globes for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” “The only time Meryl Streep sucks at acting is when she pretends to be surprised when she wins awards,” Black wrote.
His bon mot was part of the massive volume of Streep tweets posted that day: 37,583.
Fellow comedian Chris Rock also offered up some Oscar humor on Twitter. On Jan. 26, he wrote, “I'm at the movies went to see the artist the movie looks great but the sound is [messed] up,” garnering 357 retweets.
Fortunately, Rock doesn't have to worry about sound problems on Twitter. The Senti-meter is always listening.
— Oliver Gettell