Twitter's primary user base doesn't always reflect the opinion of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. If it did, the #OscarsSoWhite trend would never have happened.
However, there's much to be said for tracking social traffic during pre-Oscar awards season. Nominees gain momentum from other award shows, which vibrates across the Twittersphere and becomes an important part of the Oscars' narrative.
In most years, the leading candidates are close. Two or three films share the spotlight (no pun intended) and dominate social conversation before the show. This year, however, only one film owned Twitter's share of voice.
In the 40 days after the announcement of nominations (Jan. 15-Feb. 23), The Revenant earned by far the most buzz, with its hashtag, #TheRevenant, composing roughly two-thirds of the conversation. Those numbers exclude Brooklyn, a Best Picture nominee with no official hashtag, but regardless that's a big discrepancy.
But even more than the movie itself, actor Leonardo Dicaprio — whose failure to win an Oscar is as well-known as his biggest roles — has cornered the conversation of his category. His name with the keyword "Oscar" has been used four times more often than the names of the other four Best Actor nominees combined.
One more film to monitor is Spotlight, which has seen its share of voice increase from two percent in the 40 days before nominations to seven percent in the 40 days after. Its social mentions tripled (and then some) during the time at which voters actually cast ballots.
Keep an eye on Spotlight as a sleeper to win Best Picture, but on social, no film comes close to touching The Revenant.