On the 2nd of March, Hollywood’s greatest and brightest will descend upon the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles for the 86th Academy Awards. On the night, Cinema’s greatest of 2013 will be awarded with an Oscar – the most coveted prize in film. But the Academy Awards offer more than just critical acclaim; the winners can expect a boost to future sales and tickets. The Oscars are big business.
The awards are voted for by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which equals 6,000 or so voters. There is a whole industry dedicated to the campaigning and winning of Oscars with studios investing significant amounts of money to influence voters.
But what if the Oscars were voted for by social media? Which film would be crowned Best Picture? Which actors would be awarded one of the four acting statues if we judged them on how many Twitter followers they had?
Predicting the winner of the Oscars 2014
We used a range of different metrics and data points and created an Oscars-specific algorithm to predict the winner of the awards. Some of the metrics included are:
- Twitter followers
- Facebook fans
- YouTube views and likes
- Past award performance
Of course, anything can happen on the night and the voting Academy isn’t shy of causing upsets (Crash, Shakespeare in Love and Rocky all caused memorable Best Picture upsets).
Best Supporting Actor
Jared Leto comfortably wins this. Not only is he the favourite to win, but he also has over a million followers on Twitter. He scores highly for social media performance as well as past awards success (Leto won the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and New York Film Critics Circle awards).
Best Supporting Actress
The Best Supporting Actress category is often one of the most open categories. The Academy has favoured breakout performances in recent years giving the Oscar to Jennifer Hudson (2006), Mo’Nique (2009) and Octavia Spencer (2011).
Our prediction of Lupita Nyong’o taking home the Oscar continues this trend. Nyong’o has been on everyone’s lips in her first feature film performance. She has also seen her social media presence grow considerably. Her Twitter followers have grown more than 200% during the run-up to the Oscars.
Surprisingly, she has not swept the award season, missing out on the Golden Globe, the BAFTA and New York Film Critics Circle award. But who won those awards in her place?
Step forward Katniss Everdeen. Jennifer Lawrence has dominated the award season with her turn as Rosalyn Rosenfeld in American Hustle. Lawrence could steal the Oscar from Nyong’o but we expect the Academy’s penchant for awarding ingénues the Best Supporting Actress gong will prevail.
Matthew McConaughey tops our predictions and has long been considered one of the favourites for his turn as Ron Woodroof in the biographical Dallas Buyers Club. While this film isn’t considered a serious Best Picture contender, it could dominate the acting awards if both McConaughey and Leto win.
The actor’s career has taken a considerable upturn in recent years. Who would have thought the same actor in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days would be winning awards left, right and centre.
Just behind him is Leonardo DiCaprio who is trying to win his first Oscar after being nominated in The Wolf of Wall Street. DiCaprio ranks highly thanks to his strong social media presence as well picking up a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy although the Academy does not distinguish comedic performances from dramatic ones. Historically they also prefer dramas over comedies.
This award seems all but certain for Cate Blanchett. Her nearest rival, Amy Adams, falls far behind in our rankings. But could it be fifth time lucky for Adams?
Blanchett has dominated the award season like no other actor (male or female). She is the only nominee to win the Golden Globe, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild and New York Film Critics Circle awards – all regarded as key Oscar indicators.
Interestingly, none of the Best Actress nominees have an official Twitter account so they were on a level playing field for this metric.
The most controversial nomination would win the Best Picture award based on social media.
The Wolf of Wall Street has sparked discussion on whether or not it glorifies sex, drugs and violence. Despite being wildly popular with audiences (with an 8.5 rating on IMDB and making over $300,000,000 at the box office) the film has not won one of the major film awards and was not even nominated for a BAFTA.
Despite this, the social media marketing campaign has been strong, even outperforming Gravity, the highest grossing Best Picture nominee (Gravity has taken $700,772,926 at the international box office).
American Hustle has had a significant social media campaign – using several social networks the other nominees have shied away from. The film can boast Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram accounts – far more prolific than any other Best Picture nominee.
The film has already won a sleuth of awards for hair, make-up and costume design so using visual networks like Instagram or Pinterest would undoubtedly help win Oscars in these categories if they were judged on social media.
The Wolf of Wall Street has the most Facebook followers, the most Twitter followers, most Facebook likes, and the highest amount of Facebook conversations. While the film has less social media accounts than American Hustle, they have far greater engagement.
Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and Philomena have all localised their Facebook presence with UK Facebook pages but this is a mistake on their part. A single Facebook account would pool likes, shares and conversations strengthening the overall brand. The Hunger Games does this exceptionally well – you can read more about it in our case study here.
Of course, the voting for the Oscars is done by the Academy and not a popular vote but it will be interesting to see how in the future, film studios use social media as part of their Oscar campaigns.
Will Harvey Weinstein start a trend of offering #FF in exchange for votes? Will actors start favourite and re-tweeting every Tweet of every member of the Academy to curry favour?
I would predict there’d be a happy medium somewhere. Social media has become so entrenched in day-to-day life that it would be foolish not to expect this to happen. Then again, Hollywood is a fantastical place so who knows what will happen.