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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Meryl Streep

‘August: Osage County’ pic gets shiny new name: George Clooney

June 18, 2012 |  2:25 pm


EXCLUSIVE: The movie version of “August: Osage County” already has a heavyweight pedigree in Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep, who are playing the two lead roles in the adaptation of the Broadway drama.

Now the film’s credits are getting even glitzier. George Clooney has joined the movie as a producer, according to a person familiar with the project who was not authorized to talk about it publicly.

Clooney and producing partner Grant Heslov will produce the film, which is being directed by John Wells and financed and distributed by The Weinstein Co. The A-list actor-filmmaker, who has a relationship with Wells dating back to their “ER" days, will be heavily involved offering creative input. He is not expected to star.

A Weinstein Co. representative was not immediately available for comment.

The movie -- which is also being produced by Steve Traxler and initial Broadway producer Jean Doumanian -- is set to begin shooting in the fall for a potential 2013 release.

Tracy Letts’ black comedy about a few weeks in the lives of a dysfunctional Oklahoma family centers on Violet Weston (Streep), a drug-addled matriarch who doles out barbs and truths, as well as a motley crew of family members, particularly oldest daughter Barbara (Roberts), a control-freak professor who finds her life falling apart. When it was first staged several years ago, it won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, a Tony and a Drama Desk award.

Deanna Dunagan and Amy Morton incarnated the Violet and Barbara roles, respectively, on both Broadway and the West End; Estelle Parsons and Shannon Cochran played the parts when the show came to Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theatre.

Letts is adapting his own play for the screen. The male actors have yet to be cast in the movie.

Clooney is making a habit of bringing serious plays to the big screen. Last year he was the driving creative force behind the film adaptation of Beau Willimon’s political stage drama “The Ides of March.”


Theater review: 'August, Osage County'

Could 'August, Osage County' finally jump to the big screen?

Critic's Notebook: When going from stage to screen, things change in between


-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: 'August, Osage County' at the Ahmanson. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Oscars 2012: 20,000+ tweets per minute, Meryl Streep on top

March 5, 2012 | 11:00 am

Meryl streep oscars 2012

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.   


Oscar Senti-meter: A BAFTA bounce for Dujardin, Oldman, Streep

Oscar Senti-meter: Russell Crowe and Miley Cyrus pump up the volume 

Oscars 2012: Meryl Streep and George Clooney top the Twitter charts, volume-wise

-- 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

Oscars 2012: ‘The Artist’ producer tops final Heat Meter rankings

February 29, 2012 |  2:25 pm

Tom Cruise and Thomas Langmann: Click for full Oscars coverage

Sure, “The Artist” won best picture at the Oscars on Sunday. But who was the hottest personality during the entirety of the award season just ended?

According to Heat Meter, The Times’ data desk's analysis of the race that used a sophisticated point system to rank contenders, it was "The Artist" producer Thomas Langmann, who topped all other personalities, including his own director, Michel Hazanavicius (who came in second). Langmann had 235 points to Hazanavicius’ 231.

The hottest non-“Artist” personality was Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady"), who with 207 points landed in third place and set a personal best, topping even the two previous seasons in which she also won Oscars. Alexander Payne, who at the Academy Awards picked up an adapted screenplay win and a director nomination, edged out Jean Dujardin for fourth place.
On the film side, "The Artist" trounced the competition with 715 points. Coming in a distant second was "The Descendants" with 409 points, followed by "The Help" with 370 points.

Not surprisingly , Weinstein Co. won the race for hottest studio. But more dramatic was the race for fourth place, which saw Paramount edge out its former corporate sibling, DreamWorks, by just one point, 355-354.

You can see the top five personalities, films and studios after the jump.

Continue reading »

Meryl Streep upset Viola Davis: Exactly how did that happen?

February 27, 2012 |  6:48 am

Meryl Streep upset Viola Davis at Oscars 2012

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Theories were flying at the Oscar after-parties Sunday night about how Meryl Streep pulled off perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2012 Oscars. After all, with her turn as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady," Streep had defeated Viola Davis as Aibilieen Clark even though the "Help" star last month won the Screen Actors Guild award. (In the first 11 years of this century, the SAG winner had foretold the Oscars a whopping nine times.)

Streep also overcame Davis' popularity, her candidacy forged by her running mate Octavia Spencer and a general feeling that Davis was an essential vehicle for honoring the race-themed drama, what with the movie overlooked in categories such as writing and directing.

So what happened? Among the explanations for the Streep win were Harvey Weinstein's dominance -- the awards kingpin saw his movies take home the top four awards at the Oscars -- and general goodwill for Streep.

PHOTOS: Red carpet arrivals | Quotes | Winners | Best & Worst

But there's another, possibly cleaner, explanation: Streep was playing a real person.

For those who keep an eye on the Oscars, there's sometimes a sense that anyone acting at a high level will have an advantage if they play an actual person, especially one the audience already knows.

The recent numbers, as it turns out, bear out that theory. In the last five actor races in which men playing real people competed against men playing fictitious ones, the actor playing the known personality won four times. (You can debate whether Billy Beane is sufficiently well known to qualify; we'd say that most voters couldn't pick him out of a lineup).

Strikingly, the same ratio holds on the female side -- the actress playing the real-life person has now won four of the last five times they've competed against one another.

This in itself calls for an explanation. The best theory may be that with a real-life person we (or at least a certain kind of voter) have a frame of reference by which to judge the actor's  performance. These actors must be good at their jobs because, well, I knew a little bit about Margaret Thatcher or Edith Piaf, and what they're doing reminds me of them. Of course, a bad performer playing a real person will find that this could highlight their weaknesses, but that won't apply to Oscar-caliber acting.

You might find this a little unfair; actors playing real people, after all, have a template to work off that their fiction-minded siblings don't. But maybe one should cut Streep some slack anyway. The lone exception among the past five cases of unknown-versus-known personalities? Streep was on the losing side, her rendition of Julia Child in "Julie and Julia" losing out to Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side."

[For the record, 8:49 a.m.: An earlier version of this post misspelled the first name of Viola Davis' character in "The Help" as Abilieen.]

Oscars 2012: Full coverage

TIMELINE: Eight decades of Oscars history

'The Artist' is big winner at Academy Awards

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady." Credit: The Weinstein Company

Oscars 2012: Meryl Streep's ready for a whiskey — or two

February 27, 2012 |  1:00 am

Mery Streep and Don Gummer
Meryl Streep meant what she said when she accepted her lead actress award on the Oscars stage Sunday night: She knows many people are just plain tired of her by now.

“I’m pushing the tolerance,” she acknowledged. “Frankly, I understand Streep fatigue. And it shocked me that it didn’t override this tonight.”

It’s been nearly three decades since Streep last won the lead actress prize for her performance in “Sophie’s Choice,” and the 62-year-old admitted she was surprised by how exciting it was to win the Oscar again.

PHOTOS: Red carpet arrivals | Quotes | Winners | Best & Worst

“I thought I was so old and jaded, but they call your name and you just go into a sort of white light,” she said. “It was like [being] a kid again. I was a kid when I won this, like, 30 years ago. Two of the nominees were not even conceived,” she added, referring to Rooney Mara, 26, and Michelle Williams, 30.

Asked how she prepared to play former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for "The Iron Lady," Streep said she was unable to meet her but studied archival footage intensely. The actress became so comfortable with the political figure that she finally quit being shocked by her reflection while wearing the award-winning transformative makeup. 

“I had become acclimated to not looking at Margaret Thatcher in the mirror, [so] I thought it was me. And that was important to me. That I wasn’t looking at rubber, that I was looking at me,” she explained. “But honestly? When we first had the old-age makeup on, I saw my dad. I looked so much like my dad. Maybe my dad looked like Margaret Thatcher?"

Streep was eager to leave the press room backstage, protesting yet another journalist’s question by responding: “But I’m so thirsty!”

The actress said she was going to start by celebrating with a couple of whiskeys — “And then we’ll see if I can walk on the Ferragamo’s,” she said with a smile, looking down at her high heels.


Oscars 2012: Full coverage

TIMELINE: Eight decades of Oscars history

'The Artist' is big winner at Academy Awards

— Amy Kaufman

Photo: Meryl Streep with her husband, Don Gummer, at the 84th Academy Awards. Credit: Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

Oscars: Meryl Streep's 'Iron Lady' makeup was a low-budget affair

February 26, 2012 |  7:21 pm

Iron lady makeup
During his acceptance speech, makeup artist J. Roy Helland thanked Meryl Streep for continuing to work with him after 37 years — through films including "Sophie's Choice," "Out of Africa," "The Bridges of Madison County" and, in 2011, "The Iron Lady."

Backstage after claiming the gold statuette, he elaborated on his longstanding relationship with the two-time Oscar winner (who was up for her own Academy Award on Sunday night). He said he still finds it “fascinating” to watch the 62-year-old’s face change as she ages.

“It’s a great joy, and we have a really good time, which is why we like to do it, still,” Helland said. “It’s fascinating to make [her makeup] look different. A long, long time ago I probably got the best lesson in makeup, which was someone said, ‘Don’t paint what you see; paint what you want.’ So for us — Meryl and I — it’s all about not having it be her but having it be whoever the character is.”

Oscars: Red Carpet | Quotes | Key Scenes Ballot | Cheat Sheet | Winners

Less fun, Helland said, were the budget constraints on the $14-million production of “The Iron Lady.” He said he was under pressure to work fast and felt grateful that Streep was willing to sit still for 2 1/2 hours each morning before heading to set.

“When they budgeted [the film], they didn’t consider that we would be doing that much old age for that amount of time,” he recalled. “I was allowed to have five wigs made, and they were rented, and that was it — covering over 40 years.”

It was the first Oscar for Helland and his co-winner, Mark Coulier.

For more Oscars breaking news and analysis, check back on 24 Frames.


Oscars 2012: Full coverage

Follow the Oscars live on Twitter

Timeline: Eight decades of Oscar history

—-Amy Kaufman


Photo: The Oscar winners for makeup, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland, address the audience onstage at the 84th Academy Awards. Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.


Oscars 2012: Predictions? Here are five good story lines to follow

February 26, 2012 |  1:18 pm

There's more suspense at Sunday night's Oscars around the people who won't be getting statuettes than around those who will. Sacha Baron Cohen's red-carpet stunt for "The Dictator" and Billy Crystal's performance as the oldest solo host since the 1970s? Pretty compelling stuff. "The Artist" taking its victory lap? Not so much.

Still, there are plenty of good story lines to follow as the 84th Academy Awards ceremony kicks off Sunday at the theatre formerly known as Kodak (including, of course, Sacha and Billy). We bring you five of them.

Cirque du Olé. The performers of Cirque du Soleil have been at the Oscars before — 10 years ago, in fact when the Canada-based aerialists and trapezists helped established their high-flying bona fides.  They'll be returning to the Oscars stage Sunday night, and the specter of performers flying over the penguin-suited set during a special segment already seems infinitely more interesting than the song-and-dance bits that often characterize the Academy Awards' big numbers. Also, will the aerialists scoop up Billy Crystal?

Oscars: Cheat Sheet | Key Scenes | Pundit's picks | Ballot

The Meryl factor. In the great majority of instances over the past 10 years, when an actor playing a real-life person went up against a performer incarnating a fictional character, the real-life role won out (Helen Mirren in "The Queen," Jamie Foxx in "Ray," Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Capote," Reese Witherspoon in "Walk the Line," Marion Cottilard in "La Vie en Rose," to name but five). That would suggest that Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady") would have a strong shot against Viola Davis ("The Help") as she vies to break a statuette dry spell that's coming up on three decades. It's hard to see the Viola train slowing down — really hard — but if it does and Streep somehow walks away with the prize, that could be a key factor.
Shooting lights.Unless they're panicking about their Oscar ballot, most viewers don't obsess about the cinematography category. But this year proves an intriguing battle between the period, Los Angeles-centric shots of Guillaume Schiffman in "The Artist" and the period, Texas-centric shots of Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki in "The Tree of Life" (with one of the most famous cinematographers working today, Janusz Kaminski, who shot "War Horse," looking on as an underdog). "The Artist" has the overall momentum, but Lubezki has a lot of goodwill — he's been nominated four times and has never won. The prize will also be a key early test of whether many in the academy voted the ticket on "The Artist" or are taking a harder look at some of its competition.

The doc is in.It's one of the most open races at this year's telecast: a race-themed football story ("The Undefeated"), a topical sequel ("Paradise Lost 3") and Wim Wenders working in 3-D ("Pina") all stand a good shot in the documentary category. Some pundits are picking "Paradise' because of the newsiness of the West Memphis 3, but don't be surprised if the feelgood "Undefeated" walks off with the trophy.

Sacha & Billy.Two comedians, strangely linked by their unlikely roles at this year's ceremony. Crystal wasn't supposed to be here, while Baron Cohen almost wasn't here. Crystal is in charge of restoring some order to the proceedings after a Brett Ratner-related fiasco. Cohen, of course, will do his best to bring some disorder.

Follow live coverage of the Oscars at latimes.com beginning at 3 p.m. PST.


Oscars history: Gorilla suit, a streaker, tardy host and more

Movie academy: Oscar voters overwhelmingly white and male

All eyes on Billy Crystal, Sacha Baron Cohen and, yes, nominees

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A shot of the Cirque du Soleil performing troupe. Credit: Beatrice de Géa / For The Times

Oscars 2012: Streep and Clooney top the Twitter charts, volume-wise

February 26, 2012 |  9:00 am

An old show biz adage says that any publicity is good publicity. But when it comes to, say, Oscar buzz, we might ask which is more important: quantity or quality. The Los Angeles Times’ interactive Oscar Senti-Meter attempts to measure both by analyzing opinions about the Academy Awards race shared in millions of public messages on Twitter.

Developed by The Times, IBM and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, the Senti-Meter (available at latimes.com/sentimeter) combs through and catalogs a high volume of tweets each day and uses language-recognition technology to gauge positive, negative and neutral opinions shared in the messages. It also tracks the number of tweets.

This installment of the Senti-Meter looks at aggregate data from Dec. 21-Feb. 20, and suggests that the films, actors and actresses talked about most on Twitter aren’t necessarily the most beloved. Focusing on tweets captured by the Senti-Meter about the nominees for best picture, lead actor and lead actress, it was Meryl Streep, star of “The Iron Lady,” who had the largest volume of tweets, 217,945, indicating that she was by far the most popular topic of discussion.

Oscars: Cheat Sheet | Key Scenes | Pundit's picks | Ballot

For comparison, Streep’s volume was more than six times that of her male counterpart, George Clooney (“The Descendants”), who led nominated actors with 36,277 tweets, and just over 38% more than “Hugo,” the leading best picture nominee.

Although very large numbers of people tweeted about Streep over the last two months, the Senti-Meter also indicates that tweets about fellow nominee Viola Davis, star of “The Help,” were more positive on average than those about Streep. Positive sentiments are calculated by the Senti-Meter and expressed as numerical values, and Davis ranked highest of the five lead actress nominees. Streep had the least positive sentiment.

The Senti-Meter can’t generate reports about the reason (or reasons) why tweets about Davis were more positive than tweets about Streep. But one possibility is that people were big fans of Streep as an actress but not necessarily of “The Iron Lady” as a film.

For example, a tweet captured on Jan. 21 read: “Saw Iron Lady last night. Meryl Streep deserves the Academy Award, but story is missing an arc.” “The Help,” meanwhile, ranked higher for positive sentiment than “The Iron Lady,” suggesting that Twitter users preferred Davis’ film overall. A typical tweet, captured Feb. 3, said: “The Help is a warm and touching film. Viola Davis is excellent in it. Fully deserves all the accolades.”

In the race for best picture, “Hugo” fared similarly to Streep: It was the film with the highest volume of tweets (followed by “The Artist”) but scored lowest for positive sentiment among the nine nominees. “Midnight in Paris” ranked highest for positive sentiment, followed by “The Help.”

The film tweeted about least was “The Tree of Life,” which was released back in May, long before the hoopla of awards season, and has polarized critics and audiences. It is something of a dark-horse candidate. As one tweet put it: “The Tree of Life was a beautiful and poetic film, but so exasperating.”

Among nominees for lead actor, Clooney had the highest volume, but once again someone else ranked higher for positive sentiment: Jean Dujardin of “The Artist.” (Clooney ranked second.) A Feb. 18 tweet about Dujardin gushed: “A real actor can captivate an audience even without making a sound. (An Oscar for Jean Dujardin, please.) #TheArtist.”

Gary Oldman, of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” had the lowest positive sentiment. Despite a number of tweets congratulating Oldman on his first Oscar nomination, it’s possible that his overall sentiment was dragged down by the folks who found “Tinker, Tailor” either boring or confusing. A Jan. 25 tweet offered this haiku-like appraisal: “Tinker Tailor Spider Spy: Confusing. Finest men in their finest suits. Gary Oldman.”

Come Oscar night, it will be interesting to see who goes home with the gold — the one talked about most, the one with the most positive sentiment or one of the underdogs. Only time will tell.


Oscar Senti-meter: Russell Crowe and Miley Cyrus pump up the volume

Oscar Senti-meter: a BAFTA boost for Dujardin and Streep

Oscar Senti-meter: Your tweets on Michelle Williams and Meryl Streep

-- Oliver Gettell

Oscars 2012: Is this Meryl Streep's best year ever?

February 22, 2012 |  4:57 pm

Meryl Streep in "Iron Lady"

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

Several of Hollywood's biggest names — including Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese, Glenn Close and Woody Allen -- have had a strong year on the 2011-12 awards circuit: But how does this season compare to some of their career high points?

With the Oscars on Sunday poised to add to their already heaping totals, we put the Heat Meter in a time machine and took a look at how this year stacks up to some of these titans' past triumphs.

Meryl Streep
The most-nominated actress in Academy Awards history has had a strong year — stronger, in fact, than 2002, when she gained heat from two films, “Adaptation” and “The Hours," and stronger than 2006, when she played an ice-queen fashion editor in "The Devil Wears Prada." And it's been a better run than her “Bridges of Madison County” year of 1995.

Streep has 127 Heat Meter points so far this season for her turn as Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” If she notches a best actress win Sunday, she'll top her previous hottest year -- 1982, when she won an Oscar for “Sophie's Choice.”

1982 “Sophie's Choice”: 195
1979  "The Deer Hunter": 150
2011* “The Iron Lady”: 127
2002 “Adaptation,” “The Hours": 88
2006 "The Devil Wears Prada": 80
1995 “The Bridges of Madison County”: 44

Glenn Close
With turns in movies such as “Fatal Attraction” and “Dangerous Liaisons,” Close had some very strong years in the 1980s. But her gender-bending role as “Albert Nobbs” in 2011, for which she's racked up 44 points, bests them all. Even if she walks out of the awards venue with her arms empty, Close will still have topped her bunny-boiling year of 1987, when she of course played a vengeful mistress in “Fatal Attraction.”

2011* "Albert Nobbs”: 44
1987 “Fatal Attraction”: 32
1988 “Dangerous Liaisons”: 20
1984 “The Natural”: 12

Woody Allen
Woody had one of the best years in awards history in 1977, when he was nominated for a rare Oscar trifecta of best writer, director and actor for “Annie Hall” (he won for director and writer). The whopping 375 points he gathered throughout that season are one of the all-time best for any filmmaker. Can he get close this year? Not quite. But the 138 points the Woodster has garnered so far as a writer-director on “Midnight in Paris” is still pretty strong. He can add to that with wins on Sunday.

1977 “Annie Hall”: 375
1986 “Hannah and her Sisters”: 177
2011* “Midnight in Paris”: 138
1994 "Bullets Over Broadway": 34

Martin Scorsese
If you're the much-acclaimed, often Oscar-deprived Martin Scorsese, perhaps no year will compare to 2006, when “The Departed” won you your first golden statuette. The crime auteur scored a killer 275 Heat Meter points that year. Only a Marty party — that is, best picture and best director wins -- on Sunday will allow him to top that.

But the filmmaker has still had a year to remember — according to Heat Meter, 2011 is already better for Scorsese than 1990, when “Goodfellas” came out, and his landmark year of 1976, when “Taxi Driver” was released.

2006 “The Departed”: 275
2011* “Hugo”: 146
1976 “Taxi Driver”: 136
1990 “Goodfellas”: 130

*Not counting this year's Oscars

[For the Record, 8:29 a.m., Feb. 23: An earlier version of this post stated that Woody Allen won an Oscar in 1978 for best actor. He was nominated for the award but did not win.]


Heat Meter: 'The Help' gets a SAG award boost, but is it enough?

Heat Meter: Is 'Descendants' hotter than 'The Artist?'

Heat Meter: Does 'Bridesmaids' have a shot at Oscar gold?

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady." Credit: The Weinstein Company

Oscar Senti-meter: A BAFTA bounce for Dujardin, Oldman, Streep

February 20, 2012 |  5:17 pm

Sentimeter 2-12
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.


Unmasking the academy: Who votes on the Oscars?

'The Artist' sweeps BAFTAs, winning best picture, director, actor

Oscar Senti-meter: Russell Crowe and Miley Cyrus pump up the volume

— Oliver Gettell


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