• Ofer Zeevy

Moviegoers voice their Best Picture predictions for the Oscars

And the Oscar goes to…..


Hollywood production companies that went through two tough years? Streaming services, such as Netflix, which saw their business boom in recent times? Movie theater owners who had to close down their business due to the pandemic? Many producers, directors, film crews, and actors who stayed jobless for at least some of the last 24 months? Or maybe moviegoers, who had to stop watching their favorite films on the widescreen?


Well, after two years of a worldwide pandemic, the movie business is still trying to recuperate. But as traditions go, it’s that time of the year to celebrate the movies that did make it as well as the industry behind it. For the 94th time in a row, The Academy Awards ceremony took place in Hollywood on March 27th.


The Academy Awards.

Arriving late this time around, so as to not clash with the Super Bowl or the 2022 Winter Olympics, the ceremony announced, as always, a new “Best Picture”. Ten nominees were competing this year and were hoping to join such an exclusive list that includes “Forrest Gump”, “Schindler’s List”, “The Godfather” (twice, for parts 1+2!), “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Parasite”.


Affogata, the customer intelligence platform, conducted comprehensive real-time consumer voice research, from all over the open web, in order to find out how moviegoers and film fans view this year’s “Best Picture” competition. Affogata tracked and analyzed the collective opinions of tens of thousands of commenting and conversing fans, covering the February 9th-March 20th time frame and leading to the week prior to the ceremony itself. It is always interesting to match the “popular vote” of the consumer voice and insights with the actual results determined by a much smaller group of people. Academy awards winners are determined by close to 10,000 Oscar voters who are mostly movie industry insiders (producers, directors, actors, writers, cinematographers, and many other film professionals).


Moviegoers voice their 2022 favorites


The three most talked about movies were Netflix’ The power of the dog with 20,490 total open-web mentions (Director: Jane Campion; 12 nominations), Warner Brothers’ Dune with 17,082 mentions (Director: Denis Villeneuve, 10 nominations), and 20th Century Studios’ West Side Story with 15,433 mentions (Director: Steven Spielberg, 7 nominations). So the three films with the most nominations (Focus Features’ Belfast, directed by Kenneth Branagh, also received 7 total nominations, just as “West Side Story”) were the most talked about all over the web. But being at the center of public attention, apparently, it didn’t increase their chances of winning “Best Picture”.


While “total mentions” represents the most talked-about films, it was also quite interesting to find out which films received a positive brand sentiment vs. nominees which the public had more negative things to say about. Surprisingly enough, Apple TV’s movie Coda received the highest brand sentiment score among all of the 10 films nominated, although it received only 3 overall Academy Awards nominations (Director: Sian Heder). Almost a third of all mentions regarding “Coda” was positive, and when compared with its negative mentions, it received a 9.1 high brand sentiment score, leading all other movies in this category. And maybe this was the true predictor: ‘Coda”, the first film distributed by a streaming service (Apple TV), and the first film featuring predominantly deaf actors, won “Best Picture”.


Warner Brothers’ King Richard did almost the same with a high 8.9 brand sentiment score. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the film received 6 nominations in the Academy Awards categories.


Less good news for 2 out of the 3 most talked-about films came in the “negative sentiment” category. Both “The Power of the Dog” as well as “Dune” received many negative mentions, leading both to an undesirable 7 score. But leading all ten films with a negative brand sentiment score of 10 was Netflix star-studded Don't look up. The film, directed by Adam McKay, received four Academy Awards nominations. If the public knows something, this film is out of the race.


The weeks leading to the Oscars


All ten films contending for the “Best Picture” award were having interesting online mentions peaks as the March 27th date was approaching.


“Belfast” had a mixed peak in mentions (positive and negative) on March 13th, right after winning 6 Bafta awards. As there are several other key awards leading up to the Oscars, The 2022 Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG) gave high kudos to “Coda”. As a result, the movie drew a high peak in mentions on Feb. 28th, right after it won 2 Sag awards. “Coda” enjoyed two further peaks in consumer mentions, when it was re-released to theaters and when it also won several Baftas as well as Critics Choice Awards recently.


As previously mentioned, “Don’t look up” is not that popular with viewers. Surprisingly enough, consumers gave the movie yet more unfavorable mention peaks, discussing the similarities between the way the Russian invasion to Ukraine was talked about online with the negative ways of social media described in the movie.


HBO’s Drive my car, directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi and earning 4 Oscar nominations, is the first Japanese film ever to be nominated for “Best Picture”. Winning various awards in other worldwide film competitions, the movie saw constant peaks in mention leading to Oscars week.

“King Richard” also saw peaks resulting from winning several awards in the aforementioned pre-Oscar ceremonies.


Then there is MGM’s Licorice Pizza, a type of a “low-fi” movie, the kind that doesn't always make it to the Oscars final “Best Picture” lists. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, the film is nominated for 3 Academy awards. Winning at the Bafta garnered the film a peak in online mentions, But a March 15th negative peak was also recorded, due to criticism blaming the movie for having one racist scene.


Also not expected to win “Best Picture”, but nominated in four different categories while receiving very good reviews, is Searchlight Pictures’ Nightmare Alley. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro, the film has seen several positive mentions’ peaks, describing viewers’ satisfaction with it.


Viewers commenting on the top favorites


Going back to the top 3 most talked-about movies, it seems viewers have mixed feelings about them. “Dune”, for starters, drew a positive brand sentiment, as it also drew peaks of online mentions as a result of it debuting on HBO Max and on the day of the Baftas.


“The Power of the dog” won “Best Picture” and “Best Director” at the Baftas, and it did lead it to be more heavily discussed online. But while positive mentions grew, so did the negative remarks from viewers.


Finally, “West Side Story” was going for a double, meaning this remake wants to win “Best Picture” again, following the original film’s win in 1962. While the film did not win big at the box office last December, critics and viewers remain largely positive about it. Its television arrival, on Disney+ and HBO Max, increased exposure to the film and enabled many who missed it at the cinema to view it from the comfort of their home. Many were wondering whether the industry would reward the classic musical for a second time, as well as handing out an Oscar for the fourth time to the most commercially successful director of all time.


But the Oscar went to…” Coda”.


All the answers, including how the Academy voted and if its choices matched those of the public, during this upcoming Sunday.


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