Geez, Internet, what did Helen Mirren do to you? A Nielsen survey purports to handicap the Oscars by gauging the online chatter about each nominee. And if blog and social media mentions are good predictors (they're not) Avatar, Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock will do well at the big show.
Apparently Avatar, Bridges and Bullock each gobble up more than a quarter of the online buzz when grouped alongside their fellow nominees. No surprises here: the movie blogosphere is littered with many breathless reports about Avatar's still-massive global box office, Jeff Bridge's sentimental awards season appeal (honestly, I think local newspapers and magazines have dedicated entire newsrooms to Jeff Bridges) and Bullock's Cinderella-ish ascent to respectable actress-hood.
The Oscar hype machine is a vicious cycle constantly feeding off itself, so the bigger names will only get bigger, the front runners even more obvious. (It's a miracle that a small, little-seen gem like The Hurt Locker was able to prosper in the cruel, relentless Web 2.0 re-blogging echo chamber, although maybe the vast internet landscape will open up a new niche for indie movies the way it did with indie bands.)
A couple of surprises: people are talking about the well-received but modest An Education online way more than at the movie theater or by the water cooler. Helen Mirren is foundering despite her consistently brilliant soundbites and scorching sexagenarian bikini snapshots. And Inglourious Basterds, a Quentin Tarantino movie tailor-made for nerdy disgruntled bloggers and the underemployed schlubs who read them, has barely made a dent on the internet landscape, accounting for just 2% of Best Picture buzz.
Tarantino can take comfort in the fact that the same "BuzzMetrics" last year had Brad Pitt winning the Best Actor race (being a tabloid mainstay always helps your online Q rating) with eventual winner Sean Penn occupying just 17% of the digital conversation.
That said, I loved Basterds and always root for the underdog. So here goes nothing:
Inglourious Basterds! Inglourious Basterds! Inglourious Basterds!
(Courtesy of Nielsen)