And the 2019 Oscar award for Best Actor goes to the best behaved

22 January 2019

Winning an Academy Award is one of the highest accolades for an actor, but could it be more telling of their public reputation than performance? Advanced analytics show that the Oscar winners perceived as the most talented are those with the least risk incidents, according to specialty research firm Spotted.

Since 2014, the winners in the highly publicised category of Best Actor or Actress in a Leading Role have had an average of 33% fewer risk incidents throughout their careers – behaviours ranging from engaging in social media feuds to physical assault – than their A-list counterparts.

“Our theory may not be able to conclusively predict this year’s winners, but the numbers suggest that luck may sway in the favour of those with fewer skeletons in their closet,” says Janet Comenos, CEO of Spotted who specialise in celebrity analytics. “Rewarding risk-prone actors can prove costly for The Academy, especially in light of the #MeToo movement.”

This may not be ideal for Lady Gaga, 2019 Best Actress nominee for her performance in “A Star is Born,” who has a good number of minor risk incidents to date. But it may spell good news for Best Actress nominee Glenn Close (“The Wife”), whose risk incidents are fairly rare.

Among current Best Actor nominees, Bradley Cooper (nominated, like Gaga, for “A Star is Born”), has a risk incident count a little higher than the average Oscar winner, but he’s in slightly better standing than fellow riskier nominees like Christian Bale (“Vice”).

Of course there have been some controversial winners in the past. For example, Gary Oldman was accused of domestic abuse years before he won his Best Actor Oscar in 2018 for “Darkest Hour”; and Casey Affleck got the Best Actor nod in 2017 for “Manchester by the Sea,” despite accusations of sexual assault that surfaced before he won. But these wins didn’t come without consequences.

Oldman’s win, which followed the sexual abuse scandals of Harvey Weinstein and other Hollywood powerhouses, triggered intense criticism of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group behind the awards. Complaints over Casey Affleck’s nomination were even stronger, and persistent enough to keep the actor from presenting at the gala a year later.

The recent winners deemed most talented include; two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand (1997 “Fargo” and 2018 “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), Matthew McConaughey (2014 “Dallas Buyers Club”) and Leonardo DiCaprio (2016 “The Revenant”). Despite McDormand’s relatively high risk score, her former mishaps only involve talking about politics and making a harmless reference to having a drink. Meanwhile, McConaughey’s most serious risk incident involves a night of bongos and marijuana, and DiCaprio’s occasional missteps seem to be tied to his party boy reputation.

So what does this connection between risky behaviour and perceived talent suggest about this year’s Oscar nominees?

For the Best Actress in a Leading Role category, the stats show that the highly talented Lady Gaga may face some serious competition even though she ranked firmly in the top 12% of A-List celebrities. The powerhouse vocalist is considered controversial for her high profile spats with other celebrities and her avant-garde fashion sense, which was epitomised by the meat dress she chose to wear to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards.

Glenn Close, who tied with Lady Gaga for the most recent Critics’ Choice Best Actress award and won at the Golden Globes, is considered to be the most gifted actress in the category by consumers; is considered to be low risk.

For Best Actor, Bradley Cooper – who also racked up Best Director and Best Picture nominations this year for his work in “A Star is Born” - has a bigger chance of winning than his on screen love interest. Cooper is perceived as marginally less risky and more talented than fellow nominee Christian Bale. However, as Bale has managed to win Best Actor at the Golden Globe and the Critics’ Choice awards, Cooper may have to console himself with victory in another category at the Oscars.

“Those that we are expected to see bad behaviour from are arguably easier to risk assess, particularly for brands and sponsors,” commented Edel Ryan, Partner and Head of Media & Entertainment at JLT Specialty. “Should a ‘safe’ celebrity, such as Glenn Close, unexpectedly step off the mark, their behaviour would be viewed as shocking whereas this type of behaviour would be considered the norm from a celebrity with the same risk factor as Lady Gaga.”

“Although bad behaviour is open to interpretation, Chief Marketing Officers and Head of Sponsorship should rely on analytics to support decisions that will influence million dollar outcomes. As the financial risk of a brand getting it wrong with an Oscar winner could be staggering.”

JLT Specialty’s Media & Entertainment practice works with clients, designing insurance solutions around content production and sponsorship deals. For more information, click here.

About the research

All statements in this blog are based on analysis provided by Spotted. Spotted analyses millions of data points that benchmark over 20,000 celebrities globally; the sources of Spotted's data are a combination of publicly available research, 1st-party survey data, social data, sentiment analysis, search traffic and Wikipedia data. Spotted analyses these results in order to benchmark celebrities against one another and in order to drive the firm's predictive models.

Definitions:

  • Perception Analysis: 1st party survey data is collected via Lightspeed on the celebrity's Recognition (Face, Name, and Voice), the celebrity's Consumer Approval (Trust, Likability, Relatability, Authenticity), and the celebrity's Personality Assessment (more than 200 personality traits are measured).
  • Risk Assessment: Risk assessment measures how risky a celebrity is based on the existence of more than 60 risk factors (both legal risks like sexual assault, physical attacks, DUIs, along with behavioural risks like infidelity and insensitive comments). The severity of the risk, the recency of risk, the frequency of risk, and the celebrity's ability to recover from risk are all considered.

Survey data collected for this project was comprised of 600 respondents from the largest, most reputable survey panel worldwide, Lightspeed.

Additional Information

Pre-nomination contenders for Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars, in attribute categories, derived from Spotted's proprietary analysis of consumer sentiment.

Consumer Approval ™ (Spotted’s patent-pending combination measures consumers’ trust in, liking for and relatability to a celebrity)

Highest (Descending)

  1. Yalitza Aparicio
  2. Emily Blunt
  3. Olivia Colman
  4. Stephan James
  5. Constance Wu

Lowest (Ascending)

  1. Rami Malek
  2. Lin-Manuel Miranda
  3. Willem Dafoe
  4. Lady Gaga
  5. Saoirse Ronan

Perceived Talent

Highest (Descending)

  1. Yalitza Aparicio
  2. Robert Redford
  3. Clint Eastwood
  4. Glenn Close
  5. Stephan James

Lowest (Ascending)

  1. Rami Malek
  2. Ethan Hawke
  3. Lucas Hedges
  4. Constance Wu
  5. John David Washington

Recognition

Highest (Descending)

  1. Clint Eastwood
  2. Nicole Kidman
  3. Bradley Cooper
  4. Melissa McCarthy
  5. Lady Gaga

Lowest (Ascending)

  1. Yalitza Aparicio
  2. Stephan James
  3. Lucas Hedges
  4. Olivia Colman
  5. Elsie Fisher

Authentic

Highest (Descending)

  1. Glenn Close
  2. Emily Blunt
  3. Clint Eastwood
  4. Constance Wu
  5. Robert Redford

Lowest (Ascending)

  1. Stephan James
  2. Lady Gaga
  3. Willem Dafoe
  4. Lucas Hedges
  5. John David Washington

Provocative

Highest (Descending)

  1. Lady Gaga
  2. Christian Bale
  3. Ben Foster
  4. Ethan Hawke
  5. Charlize Theron

Lowest (Ascending)

  1. Olivia Colman
  2. Saoirse Ronan
  3. Elsie Fisher
  4. Robert Redford
  5. Stephan James

Outspoken

Highest (Descending)

  1. Melissa McCarthy
  2. Glenn Close
  3. Lady Gaga
  4. Viola Davis
  5. Clint Eastwood

Lowest (Ascending)

  1. Saoirse Ronan
  2. Ryan Gosling
  3. Rosamund Pike
  4. Nicole Kidman
  5. Elsie Fisher

Wholesome

Highest (Descending)

  1. Elsie Fisher
  2. Emily Blunt
  3. Constance Wu
  4. Bradley Cooper
  5. Glenn Close

Lowest (Ascending)

  1. Yalitza Aparicio
  2. John David Washington
  3. Lady Gaga
  4. Willem Dafoe
  5. Stephan James

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