OPINION27 February 2012
OPINION27 February 2012
Social media analysis got several of the big predictions wrong at last night’s Academy Awards in Hollywood. James Verrinder reports.
As the movie industry nurses its collective head in the aftermath of last night’s Oscars, those in the business of making predictions based on social media chatter will be scratching theirs and wondering why their forecasts were so wide of the mark.
Despite critics hailing The Artist as almost a dead cert to take home the Best Picture award, social media analysis in the run-up to the event suggested it might not turn out to be the one-horse race many were expecting.
At the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Innovation Lab, Professor Jonathan Taplin studied the sentiment in tweets to predict that Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris would take the award. Meanwhile social media agency Banyan Branch’s analysis of tweets and Facebook ‘likes’ tipped The Help as the front-runner. But in the end, it was the critics who called it correct.
Banyon also used tweets and likes to pick the likely winners for the Best Actor and Best Actress categories. Again they proved incorrect, with The Help’s Viola Davis and Moneyball’s Brad Pitt failing to turn their social media popularity into an Oscar. Eventual Best Actress winner Meryl Streep came a close second in Banyon’s analysis, but it was way off the mark for Best Actor. It had The Artist’s Jean Dujardin in third place.
General Sentiment was another company playing the predictions game – and it did so better than others, thanks to its approach of analysing social media and Twitter sentiment alongside the bookies’ odds for each nominee. First let’s start with the missteps. It made The Artist’s Bérénice Bejo the favourite to take home Best Supporting Actress ahead of The Help’s hotly tipped – and ultimately successful – Octavia Spencer. It also tipped The Help’s Davis to beat Streep.
Yet General Sentiment was right on the money in the Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor categories – the last of which went to Christopher Plummer, as predicted, for his performance in Beginners.
All in all, it wasn’t a great night for demonstrating the predictive abilities of social media. However, it should be noted that the public has no input into which films and performers actually win the Oscars – that job is handled by the Academy Awards panel. With that in mind, this year’s presidential campaign and the upcoming mayoral election in London are the two bigger tests of social media analysis as a means of gauging the public mood.
Until then, forget your sorrows with this amusing little skit from last night’s ceremony: supposedly a long-lost recording of the first screentest and focus group for the Wizard of Oz.