2012 Oscar Predictions From Google & Yahoo

Who will take home the Oscar at the 84th Annual Academy Awards tonight? Google predicts “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” might be the “underdog” winner for best picture, but Yahoo backs “War Horse” as best picture based on search trends.

Best Picture

Why is Google predicting a win for “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”? Well, Google looked back at search trends leading up to the two previous Academy Awards shows and discovered that it wasn’t the most searched for film that won the Oscar; rather the winning formula was a combination of an upward trend in search volume for at least four consecutive weeks during the previous year and the highest percentage of searches originating from New York state.


Google’s final four list also included “The Artist”, “Midnight in Paris”, and “War Horse”, but Google noted that the search query volume underdog won in previous years (“The King’s Speech” and “The Hurt Locker”).


Yahoo chose to pick its winner based on search volume. “War Horse” blew away the competition by having:

  • 80 percent more searches than the “The Artist”. 
  • Three times more searches than “The Tree of Life”, “Hugo”, and “Midnight in Paris” combined. 
  • 17 times more searches than “The Tree of Life”.

Here’s how all the Best Picture nominees ranked on Yahoo:

  1. “War Horse”
  2. “The Artist” 
  3. “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
  4. “The Help”
  5. “The Descendants”
  6. “Moneyball”
  7. “Midnight in Paris”
  8. “Hugo”
  9. “The Tree of Life”

However, it should be noted Google was predicting a victory for “The Social Network” last year, while Yahoo incorrectly picked “Black Swan” as the big winner. 

Much like Google has recalibrated its method for predicting Oscar winners, Yahoo went beyond the search data this year by adding the perspective of Thelma Adams, contributing editor for Yahoo movies, who predicts “The Artist” as the likely winner.

Best Actor

Both Google and Yahoo agree: Brad Pitt is the most searched for actor, but he won’t win Best Actor tonight. Google and Yahoo’s Adams both are picking George Clooney to win.

Google is a bit cautious here, but it seems like they’re picking Clooney (“The Descendants”) to narrowly beat out Gary Oldman (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”). Their criteria for picking a winner in this category: in recent years, the winner appears in the middle of the pack for searches, but maintains steady search volume throughout the year.

Here were the top searched Actors in a Leading Role nominees on Yahoo:

  1. Brad Pitt (“Moneyball”) 
  2. George Clooney (“The Descendants”) 
  3. Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) 
  4. Gary Oldman (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”) 
  5. Demian Bichir (“A Better Life”)

Best Actress

Again, Google is a bit cautious in picking a winner. By looking at the search volume for winners from the past few years, the winner of this category has had a spike of search interest starting in the December prior to the awards show, and strong regional interest in Los Angeles and New York City (with one noteworthy exception: Sandra Bullock in 2010).

Rooney Mara has the search interest required. However, while Mara rules in Los Angeles, Meryl Streep wins on searches in New York City. Based on this, it seems Google is predicting Mara to win…possibly.

Yahoo’s Adams is backing Viola Davis, even though more people searched for Mara. Here were the top searched Actress in a Leading Role nominees on Yahoo:

  1. Rooney Mara (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) 
  2. Michelle Williams (“My Week With Marilyn”) 
  3. Viola Davis (“The Help”) 
  4. Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”) 
  5. Glenn Close (“Albert Nobbs”)

Other Oscar Search Predictions

The Academy Awards are the most search for entertainment awards, beating out the likes of the Grammys and Emmys on search volume every year. One search prediction that is guaranteed to come true again this year, according to Google: searches for [red carpet] peak at Oscar time every year.

Yahoo also shared the top searched nominees for Actor in a Supporting Role:

  1. Jonah Hill 
  2. Christopher Plummer 
  3. Kenneth Branagh 
  4. Nick Nolte 
  5. Max von Sydow

And the top searched nominees for an Actress in a Supporting Role:

  1. Melissa McCarthy
  2. Octavia Spencer 
  3. Jessica Chastain 
  4. Berenice Bejo 
  5. Janet McTeer

Other search trends:

Woody Allen was the top searched directing nominee for “Midnight in Paris”, beating out Martin Scorsese (“Hugo)” and “Alexander Payne (“The Descendants”).

Yahoo also noted that searches for Billy Beane skyrocketed 623 percent the week “Moneyball” was released. Beane recently shared “Moneyball” tips for marketers at Covario’s INFLECTIONPoint 2012.

Can search trends predict the winner? We’ll find out later tonight.

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