The Oscar Senti-meter: Your Tweets on Meryl Streep vs. Michelle Williams


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Welcome to the Oscar Senti-meter –- an interactive tool developed by the L.A. Times, IBM and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab to analyze opinions about the Academy Awards race shared in millions of public messages on Twitter.

Focused on the best actor, best actress and best picture categories, the Senti-meter combs through a high volume of tweets daily and uses language-recognition technology, developed in collaboration with USC’s Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab, to gauge positive, negative and neutral opinions shared in the messages. It also tracks the number of tweets. Cataloging these tweets over time gives insight into the vox pop surrounding Hollywood’s award season and gives a voice to average fans who may endorse -– or abhor –- the selections made by Tinseltown’s elite.


Check out our interactive tool: For example, you can compare volume and tone of tweets about the best actress contest on two days, Saturday, Jan. 14, the day before the Golden Globes, and Sunday, Jan. 15, the day of the awards.

As you’d expect, the volume of tweets about the actresses shot up sharply on Golden Globes day. Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams, winners of the best actress statuettes for drama and musical/comedy, respectively, saw the most chatter.

On Saturday, Streep and her awards prospects were the subject of 3,774 tweets registered and rated by the Senti-meter. She saw her volume rise tenfold to 37,583 tweets on awards day, but the overall tone of those tweets was more negative than it had been on the eve of the Globes. The drop in sentiment seemed to be due to some displeasure about her awards speech, and catty comments about her dress.

For instance, one tweet read: ‘Being ‘surprised’ at her Golden Globe win is probably the worst acting Meryl Streep has ever done. Come on! You’re MERYL STREEP.” While another commenter said: “Does Meryl Streep get her outfits from Chico’s or Talbots?”

Other comments included:

  • “Meryl Streep won because she’s Meryl Streep, yawn, boring. I heard that movie was unbearable too. Just saying.”
  • “I hate meryl streep and her false humility.”
  • “Was Meryl Streep wearing a cow girl shirt that they just extended into a horrible dress?”

On Saturday, Williams’ awards prospects were the subject of just 115 tweets registered by the Senti-meter, but 4,394 messages about her were logged on awards night. And along with her volume rising 38-fold, the overall tone of the messages on Globes evening was more positive, driven by her speech and her choice of dress.
Among the messages about Williams that night:

  • “Nice speech by Michelle Williams, but strange category for #MyweekwithMarilyn”
  • “Loving Michelle Williams’ dress and win for My Week With Marilyn. Toast her in style with a Norma Jean punch!!”
  • ‘Best speech ever, Michelle Williams. She said she’s a mother first, an actress 2nd. Thanked her daughter first.’
  • “Michelle Williams wins for acceptance speech for my week with Marilyn!”

Have fun exploring the Senti-meter, and who knows, if you tweet about your favorite Oscar movie, actor or actress, your messages might just be highlighted in our sample tweets section.



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-- Julie Makinen, Emily Rome, Rebecca Keegan and Oliver Gettell