IF tomorrow's Oscar winners were determined by Malaysian movie fans, the Academy Award for Best Film would go to Black Swan. Natalie Portman would pick up the Best Actress prize and James Franco would cause one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history by becoming Best Actor, "snatching" the statuette from the hotly-tipped Colin Firth.
According to Google (www.google.com/insights/search), Portman, Franco and Black Swan have generated the highest search volume in Malaysia in the run-up to the 83rd Academy Awards.
The three search terms not only racked up a huge amount of pre-Oscar online hype here during the past 30 days, but also across the world.
In fact, Black Swan, Portman's performance in the same thriller and Franco's stirring role in 127 Hours as mountain climber Aron Ralston created such a massive online buzz among local movie buffs that the other nominees in their respective categories were almost off the search radar.
"This year's favourites to win the Oscar Best Picture award are Black Swan, The King's Speech, The Social Network, True Grit, and The Fighter, but Google's Insights for Search tool shows that people are searching for Black Swan much more than any other film, which goes against the predictions of many movie critics," said Derek Callow, head of marketing for Google Southeast Asia.
"We think that Insights for Search captures popular opinion of these movies, rather than professional critics' assessments.
"It'll be interesting to see who will win when the awards are shown live here tomorrow morning."
Other Oscar nominees that have caught the imagination of moviegoers and notched up online interest around the globe include Christian Bale (Best Supporting Actor) for his performance in The Fighter, Amy Adams (Best Supporting Actress), also for The Fighter, and Black Swan's Darren Aronofsky (Best Director).
Black Swan, a psychological thriller revolving around a ballet dancer, is also a hit on YouTube, with its trailer chalking up more views (12.7 million) worldwide compared with The Social Network (five million views), The Fighter (1.91 million), True Grit (572,000) and the The King's Speech (533,000).
Callow said those interested to find out more about other Oscar-nominated movies that are creating a buzz online or are simply curious about any topic of interest could try out Google's Insights for Search tool at www.google.com/insights/search
Google Insights for Search allows users to compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties.