Analyzing the 2011 Oscar Acceptance Speeches

Analyzing the 2011 Oscar Acceptance Speeches

Oscar winners thanked their wives and the Academy. God, not so much.

Last year, after the annual ritual of desperately trying to stay awake through the painfully long Academy Awards telecast, I reacted to the thank-you-fest the only way I knew how: by creating a Word Cloud and analyzing the word frequency of the speeches in aggregate to look for any insights into the collective ramblings of the winners. While I didn’t find a Da Vinci Code-esque hidden message, it was entertaining enough to repeat for 2011.

So without further ado, behold: the 2011 Oscar Acceptance Speech Word Cloud:

Word Cloud generated by Click for larger version.

(Quick caveat: the Academy Awards website mysteriously lacked the acceptance speech for Visual Effects, so I’m missing one of the 24 speeches.)

Statistical insights, after the jump:

First, let’s compare total words spoken: in 2010, 1,934 words were spoken across 24 different speeches, or 80 words per speech. In 2011, 2,364 words were spoken across the 23 speeches I had transcripts for, which works out to 103 words per speech. So it wasn’t your imagination; they were in fact droning on longer than they usually do. Maybe it’s because there are more people to thank these days; after all, movies budgets are getting larger, which means more cast and crew, right? Or maybe it’s because everyone’s gotten better at talking. Or maybe the orchestra’s gotten worse at playing people off. That must be it.


Or maybe it was to compete with all of the nonsense coming out of James Franco's mouth.

Just as last year, “thank” was the most popular word of the evening, and at 3.83 “thank”s per speech, that’s only slightly higher than the previous year’s 3.79 “thank”s per speech. We’ll have to revisit this in 2012 to see if this the beginning of a trend of increased “thankiness” in Oscar speeches.

This year, the “Academy” got more love: with 20 mentions, or 0.87 mentions per speech, 2011’s speeches bested 2010’s 0.51 mentions per speech. Wives got more love, too. In 2010, “wife” bested “husband” 6 to 2, while in 2011, “wife” shut out “husband” with a score of 12 to 0. Is the Academy even more of a sausage fest than it was before? Perhaps, but it’s also getting more “film-snobby.” As was the case last year, the word “film” was used far more frequently than “movie.” In 2010, the “film”-to-“movie” ratio was 2.75-to-1, and in 2011, the ratio came in at 3-to-1.


"It's not a movie. It's a f-f-f-f-film."

Last year I found that “God,” the Greatest Studio Executive of them all, only netted 3 mentions and wasn’t thanked at all. This year was exactly the same–3 mentions, no thanks–proving that Hollywood is just as much a bastion of secularism as it was last year.


"None of you would be here if it wasn't for me! I MADE YOU ALL! I LITERALLY MADE YOU ALL!

2010’s best word in a speech was by far “über,” but there we no umlauts to be found in the 2011 batch. Instead, this year’s award for best word goes to Melissa Leo for dropping a huge F-bomb on national TV.


Sorry Melissa, you can't take that word back. Also, that's a crazy old man holding your hand and stealing your Oscar.

This leaves us with just one unanswered question: if Banksy had won an Oscar for Exit Through The Gift Shop, would he have given a speech? And what would he have said? Any guesses? Sound off in the comments, but please, do watch your language.

14 Comments on “Analyzing the 2011 Oscar Acceptance Speeches”

  1. Chris #

    I think the greater words per speech average is owed mostly to Melissa Leo and the Best Costume Design woman rambling and Aaron Sorkin’s pontificating.


  2. Howard #

    I wonder what the spread is compared to previous years. The four acting Oscars, plus Best Director and Best Picture, accounted for 77% of all the words (Colin Firth: 325, Natalie Portman: 355, Christian Bale: 370, Melissa Leo: 261, Tom Hooper: 254, King’s Speech: 264 combined, 1859 total).

    …actually, that seems really high. I just copy/pasted into Google Documents and word counted, but it looks like it’s inflated somehow.


  3. Patrick Perez #

    I noticed union crews were mentioned multiple times and I don’t recall them ever being called out before.

    One very funny observation I made was that Aaron Sorkin, accepting for writing, was ‘played off’ by the orchestra despite earlier winners speaking far longer. Just goes to show the actual respect writers get in H’wood, where truly everyone on a set feels they have the right/skills to improve the writer’s work. I doubt people walk up to the DP and suggest different camera/light placement, even though it is quite easy to suggest.



    • lee OTI Staff #

      “I doubt people walk up to the DP and suggest different camera/light placement, even though it is quite easy to suggest.”

      *cough* Christian Bale *cough*


      • Gab #

        But the dude just won an Oscar, so clearly he has every right to.


        • lee OTI Staff #

          Gab, you and me are done professionally.

          (In case anyone’s not getting the reference, look up Christian Bales’ rant on the set of Terminator: Salvation in which he blew up at the DP. You can listen to audio of the whole thing. It’s magnificent.)


          • Gab #

            And folks should then look up RevoLucian’s remix of it, called “Bale Out,” on the Tubes of You. Also magnificent.

  4. Unmana #

    “Wives got more love, too.” This really should be compared with how many winners had wives to how many had husbands. :)


    • Unmana #

      Oh, sorry. You did. I’ll hide under my desk now.


  5. Gab #

    Did anyone, namely Natalie Portman and Christian Bale, thank the people that helped them get physically ready for their roles? Those people deserve some “thankiness” too.


    • Zeszes #

      Yes Natalie Portman talked about her ballet trainer, plus her dressers and costume/hair crews on the movie.


  6. Mauioceanactivies #

    Patrick is right. I haven’t heard the crew “thanked” so much before either. The reality is… who cares? To be honest in my ignorance I think that the only recent truly original thought I have seen on screen was the first Matrix movie. Outside of Biblical principals and history of good versus evil, The Matrix was very original.

    Unlike recent huge movies like Avatar. I liked the first time when it was called The Last Samurai, or Dances with Wolves, or even North Shore.

    I watched the majority of Oscar nominated films and outside of the Documenturies or shorts, I couldn’t find a true original thought outside of clever dialogue.


  7. Mauioceanactivies #

    PS I AM NOT A HATER or pretentious or what ever that means. I just am thi king about it too much.


  8. Peltast #

    We should just follow Borat’s lead and call motion pictures ‘moviefilms’ from now on.


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