The 2012 Academy Awards will be broadcast this Sunday, and once again Wolfram|Alpha can help you settle all sorts of Oscar-related arguments, generate some cool trivia questions for your Oscar-night party, and do a few fun new tricks you probably didn’t know about.
Consider the list of 2012 best picture nominations, for example. Even among the front-runners for this year’s statuette, there’s a pretty big spread in general popularity and box office performance. How big? Ask Wolfram|Alpha to compare box office for Moneyball, Hugo, The Artist, and The Help, and you can see that The Help has earned more than twice as much as Moneyball and more than 6 times as much as The Artist (which has 10 nominations this year, versus 4 for The Help).
Or maybe you’re wondering how this year’s entry from a legendary director like Steven Spielberg stacks up against his past work? Ask Wolfram|Alpha about total box office receipts for Steven Spielberg movies, and see where War Horse falls on that list. (Hint: you’ll have to click “More” a few times to see it.)
But will the fabled “Oscar bump” help smaller movies rake in a little more at the box office? Try a query like weekly box office for The Artist versus The Descendants; by default, Wolfram|Alpha plots each movie’s box office receipts from a common starting point, to make apples-to-apples comparisons a bit easier. But press the “Show by date” button in the Weekly history pod, and you can see a couple of interesting things: First, both movies seem to have attracted a sizeable number of Christmas-holiday viewers, judging from the spike in the middle of the plot. Second, the “Oscar bump” is a very real phenomenon; the spike just before the end of January corresponds with this year’s announcement of Oscar nominations.
Wolfram|Alpha can do some other neat tricks, too. Ever wonder if any of the talented women from this year’s list of best actress nominees have been in a movie together? Try asking Wolfram|Alpha about movies with Meryl Streep and Glenn Close. Or maybe you enjoyed Viola Davis’s performance in The Help, and you’d like to catch some of her other recent work? You’re in luck: she had a pretty busy 2011.
And let’s not forget about the men. I’d be surprised if you can’t name a few movies with George Clooney and Brad Pitt, but do you remember which movie featured small performances by both Gary Oldman and Pitt?
(Note that Wolfram|Alpha is curating more new and historical movies every week, but we don’t claim to have every movie ever released, and curation of cast members can take a bit longer. Queries like these work best for better-known performers.)
And if you’re planning one last big-screen movie outing before the Oscars, Wolfram|Alpha has another cool trick up its sleeve. A few weeks ago, we quietly added movie showtimes (for the US only, right now) to our output. Type in the name of a movie, and if there are any showtimes nearby, Wolfram|Alpha will tell you. You can click theater names to see what else is playing, or click a showtime directly or the “Buy tickets” link to go straight to online ticketing.
Let us know if you come up with any fun awards-night facts, and happy Oscar viewing!