Oscar Buzz visualized.

As the Academy Awards prepares to roll out the red carpet this weekend to announce the best of the big screen, it made us wonder how much do public opinion and social media specifically impact the Oscar outcomes?

This year the Academy has taken steps to embrace social media and engage audiences. In fact, there is a new feature on the Oscar website called appropriately, “Oscar Buzz,” where Tweets between fans, nominees, etc. containing the hashtag #Oscar are displayed in a real-time feed; top trending topics related to the Oscars are listed; and followers can also join the conversation and connect directly to the Academy’s Facebook and YouTube sites.

The Meltwater Group launched its Meltwater Buzz social media monitoring tool to capture and analyze the online conversation surrounding the best picture and actor nominees as well as evaluating whether the sentiment was positive or negative. The results show that best picture nominee, The Artist, is receiving the most online attention.  Interesting to note that aside from the human actors in the film, there is much discussion of the film’s breakout star, Uggie the dog, who even has his own Twitter account, @Uggie_TheArtist, with more than 5,000 followers. George Clooney is leading the race for best actor although neck and neck with The Artist’s Jean Dujardin, who some say is the French George Clooney. And Viola Davis of The Help ties Meryl Streep’s Iron Lady for best actress.

The best picture nominees are working hard to gain that online buzz and positive public sentiment with an aggressive social media push. For instance, Moneyball, has a dynamic Facebook page with interactive polls, games, links and features a YouTube video depicting the behind the scenes story of how difficult it was to get the movie made- thus supporting the film’s theme as the “underdog” nominee.

The official website for Hugo looks like an extension of the visually dazzling film, featuring special effects and video clips that can easily be shared via social outlets. The Help began building its online buzz early before the release by engaging in Twitter conversations and launching a major Facebook presence, which now has nearly 730,000 fans. A unique feature of the page is how it incorporates the app, BandRx, so that fans can instantly listen to songs from the film’s soundtrack, download from iTunes, and share with friends.

With all of the Tweets, likes, mentions and shares, it remains to be seen if the social media winners will receive Oscar gold on Sunday night. We will be watching…