News and Insights

Predicting Parasite: Social listening for the Oscars’ Best Picture

February 11, 2020

Each year the Oscar winners are determined by the more than 7,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. However, it’s no secret that the Oscars have a way of sparking controversy with their picks. Popular hashtag  #OscarsSoWhite which peaked during the 2015 award season critiqued the lack of diversity among the nominees, indicating some disparity between The Academy and moviegoers at large. In order to anticipate what would occur for the 2020 Oscars, we performed a social listening exercise to analyze content from all social media and digital platforms of the Best Picture nominees before last night’s award show. We decided that the best way to predict a winner was to analyze the conversational landscape to see how many people were talking about the movies, the sentiment around these mentions, and what people were saying about each one. In doing so, we were confident we had predicted who the public had chosen as this year’s Best Picture.


Total mentions alone reveal that since the nominations for Best Picture were announced on January 13th, Parasite, Joker, and 1917 received the most online mentions. While Joker mentions spiked the most on the day the nominees were announced, a third of the content from this day alone expressed a negative sentiment. Twitter users, in particular, expressed disdain for all 11 of the film’s nominations, some calling the film mediocre. The Irishman, Marriage Story, and Ford v Ferrari have received less attention than the other nominated films over the past three weeks. 

Parasite received a SAG award on January 20, driving up mentions that week with primarily positive content in support of the film. We also see that over the past three months, of all nominated films, Parasite had the biggest online conversation and only a small percentage of which had a negative sentiment. While Joker received a similar amount of mentions in the same time period (around 2 million), negative sentiment was higher (28%), which is also the case for mentions of The Irishman (23%). 


Once we realized that the conversation landscape was dominated by mentions of the movie Parasite, we filtered content to just those making predictions for Best Picture and found that Parasite had a significant lead over the other films that were nominated. As it turns out, more than one thousand mentions were directly related to people making predictions that Parasite would win the award. The only movies that came close in the number of mentions were 1917 and Joker.


On Sunday night, The Academy awarded Parasite a total of four Oscars including Best Picture, making history by becoming the first foreign-language film to win in this category. Over the course of the past day since this announcement, Parasite has received more mentions than all of the other eight nominees combined (a total of 631,827) — many celebrating this historic win. An analysis of online content revealed the winner for Best Picture even before it’s official announcement at the Oscars. This year it seems as if The Academy’s view lined up with the sentiment coming from the general public and we can all agree that Bong Joon-ho’s film was deserving of its prize. We should test out this hypothesis during next year’s Academy Awards.