Can Google predict the Oscars?

27 Feb 12

Today is Oscar day and search giant Google is joining the fun, checking over the major nominees’ search histories to see who may be more likely to take home a coveted gold statue.

"Last year we found that for three years running, the films that won best picture had two things in common when it came to search data,” Google’s Rebecca Mall writes in a post on the Google blog.

"First, the winning movies had all shown an upward trend in search volume for at least four consecutive weeks during the previous year. Second, within the US the winning film had the highest percentage of its searches originating from the state of New York.”

Four films from this year’s nine nominees meet these conditions: The Artist, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Midnight in Paris and War Horse.

Beyond this point, having a lower search volume in the previous year – and thus ‘underdog’ status going into the awards – has proved to be the differentiating factor in the past, both with The King’s Speech last year and The Hurt Locker the year before.

Going by this measure, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close will take the prize, Google says.

In search volume, Brad Pitt is the frontrunner for the Best Actor award for his performance in Moneyball, although Mall admits volume doesn’t guarantee a win in this category, and ‘it could be Brad’s famous good looks that have us searching’.

As for the women, searches in New York City and Los Angeles in December are traditionally a good sign, although for this year’s nominees the cities were split between Meryl Streep (nominated for The Iron Lady) in NYC and Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) in LA. 

Mall admits the predictions aren’t totally solid, but concludes, "it’s always enjoyable to look at how what people are interested in online plays out in the real world.”

What do you think of the predictions? Can search results foretell Oscar success, or is Google being extremely silly and incredibly opportunistic? Post your comments below. 

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