On the eve of the Academy Awards, I perused the Oscar oracles of several top media channels wondering how the box office factored into their Best Picture Oscar category picks. But I was also curious how wagering on the popular vote—social media sentiment—might hypothetically influence the outcome. If the “social correlation” were ever to become a nominating factor at the Academy, how might the popular vote sway the ballot, or even predict a winner.
As the buzz swirls around two top box office nominees—American Sniper and The Imitation Game—I decided to have some fun “reading” the social data for a few other Best Picture nominees with respectable box office mojo. On the night before the Oscars, none of the other seven Best Picture contenders come anywhere near the crosshair periphery of top grossing American Sniper ($312,677,000). In fact, Sniper gross has outflanked all the other contenders by seemingly unsurpassable margins, leaving only the second top-grossing nominee, The Imitation Game ($82,107,000), within scope of the average gross ($76,133,449) among the eight contenders.
First off, in terms of full disclosure, I don’t gamble, I do trade stocks, I’ve seen only one of the Best Picture nominees, Selma. I’m a cable cutter and I don’t own a TV. Also, the search parameters for my topics are based on my own query setup.
In terms of methodology, I based my analysis on data for the past three months generated on the enterprise social intelligence platform NetBase, sampling five of the Best Picture nominees. To the two top-grossing Oscar contenders I added the fourth and fifth box office ranking films, Selma and Birdman, as well as Boyhood, in seventh place.
One analytical lens is to examine fluctuations in net sentiment gain/loss over time, say, for the last month compared to the previous month, shown in the data below.
American Sniper: -25
Imitation Game: -4
Among the five Best Picture nominees I’ve chosen to analyze, all with the exception of Birdman experienced net sentiment loss over the past two months, with Birdman remaining steady. Significantly, over the last three months, Birdman has not only maintained insignificant net sentiment gain/loss, but also held on at about 80% overall net sentiment. American Sniper, on the other hand, has the largest net sentiment loss over the past two months, -25.
Birdman wins, or loses, depending on your data allowance, based on low net sentiment fluctuation alone, as seen in the past month and past three months comparison charts below, with Selma the runner up.
If you want to minimize risk, you may also want to factor into your Best Picture Oscar bet social buzz net gain/loss over time. In an analysis of total cumulative mentions over the past three months, while American Sniper has the largest share of social buzz, its gain in social buzz was only 59%. On the other end of the spectrum, Selma had the largest gain in social buzz, 83%, followed by Imitation Game’s 79%, Boyhood’s 73% and Birdman’s 63%.
Adding to data trail, you may want to consider the significance of a comparative Passion Index before placing you bet. The passion index trend analysis shown in the NetBase chart below is a snapshot of the intensity of emotional language and share of conversation over the past two months.
Sentiment and Passion for American Sniper have slipped, while Boyhood shows the most significant Passion Intensity gain. But there is also no love lost for the other contenders. As noted, Selma wins on largest net gain in social buzz. Birdman gets the Oscar for sentiment and passion consistency over time. And while Imitation Game garners only 3% of total mentions, it may have surpassed Boyhood as the social media darling.
So, regardless of the criteria you used to place your Oscar bets, you now have some social spice to heat up your Oscar chili for next season. For my part, if I were to throw out the box office altogether and follow the social data trail, I’d bet on Selma winning Best Picture Oscar.