On the heels of sulking in shame at the water cooler for epically losing that Super Bowl office pool you were forced to engage in, why not try your luck at an Oscar pool for the 84th Academy Awards?
Movie buffs across the nation will rush to fill out their pool sheets before the Oscars on Sunday, where Hollywood's cream of the crop will be selected for roles in acting, directing and cinematography. But how do you even start an Oscar pool?
Here is a guide for setting up the betting pool, tips for how to win and a guide for selecting the best of the nominations on the 2012 Oscars ballot.
Steps 1 & 2. Ballots and Participants
The first step is to find a ballot sheet to cast votes. Thanks to Chiff.com, you don't even need to create your own pool sheet. Here's where you can score a print-friendly version with every category on it and handy check boxes. If you'd rather a digital version, Picktainment has pools online that you can create within a group of friends, or publically if your friends or coworkers are not as enthusiastic about formulating an Oscar pool. The New York Times also has a ballot sheet to fill out for a chance to win an iPad 2 to the highest scoring subscriber.
Once you have a sheet ready to be filled out, participants must be added. Whether it is within a group of friends, family or colleagues at work, decide upon a nominal participation fee for all playing along and keep track of who is playing.
Step 3. Prizes
Once you have collected all of the money, formally announce what the prizes will be. Some only award one prize while others choose to award to the top three winners, depending on how many people are participating. If it's with friends in a party, consider movie gift cards as prizes.
Step 4. Points
Now that you have a ballot sheet ready to go, you'll need to fill in the point value for categories. Some people choose to award one point per correct guess, while others weigh major categories more heavily. Some pools even allow a first and second pick, the latter being a lesser number.
Most importantly, in the event there is a tie, find a difficult Oscars trivia question to break ties if needed.
Step 5. Vote and Tips for Voting and Winning
Step five is the best part: Making your selections for winners. Here are a few tips for voting and winning the pool.
1. Do not make selections based on preference or personal bias. Just because you think Brad Pitt is handsome does not mean he will be awarded an Oscar.
2. Do your research. Not only will you be informed but you may even see some critics' predictions.
3. Anticipate. Voters typically do not choose comedies to win the awards, as shown by data presented in The New York Times last year.
4. Perfect a tactic. Some people tactically choose to do heavy research and make the best selection on the categories where everyone else is typically clueless, like say the foreign film category or Best Sound Editing, and spend less time dwelling on the major categories like Best Picture. Miami New Times had some great insight on some of the offbeat categories. Others, however, choose to pull out the big guns and try to nail the major categories. Last year, The New York Times posted a guide for winning an Oscar pool. According to the author, Nate Silver, If one nominee for best actress appears in an Oscar-nominated film and another does not, the one in the nominated film is more likely to win.
Step 6. Scoring
It's best to keep a master score sheet so you, as the bookie, know who is in the lead and to ensure there is no cheating. Depending on your personal style, you can keep score while the broadcast happens in real time, or wait for the obligatory list the following day all over the Internet.
In addition, here is a full list of Oscar Nominations for the 2012 Academy Awards.
Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir in A Better Life George Clooney in The Descendants Jean Dujardin in The Artist Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Brad Pitt in Moneyball
Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh in My Week with Marilyn Jonah Hill in Moneyball Nick Nolte in Warrior Christopher Plummer in Beginners Max von Sydow in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs Viola Davis in The Help Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn
Actress in a Supporting Role
Bérénice Bejo in The Artist Jessica Chastain in The Help Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs Octavia Spencer in The Help
Animated Feature Film
A Cat in Paris Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli Chico & Rita Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal Kung Fu Panda 2 Jennifer Yuh Nelson Puss in Boots Chris Miller Rango Gore Verbinski
The Artist Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan Hugo Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo Midnight in Paris Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil War Horse Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales
The Artist Guillaume Schiffman The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Jeff Cronenweth Hugo Robert Richardson The Tree of Life Emmanuel Lubezki War Horse Janusz Kaminski
Anonymous Lisy Christl The Artist Mark Bridges Hugo Sandy Powell Jane Eyre Michael O'Connor W.E. Arianne Phillips
The Artist Michel Hazanavicius The Descendants Alexander Payne Hugo Martin Scorsese Midnight in Paris Woody Allen The Tree of Life Terrence Malick
Hell and Back Again Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs Pina Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel Undefeated TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas
Documentary (Short Subject)
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin God Is the Bigger Elvis Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson Incident in New Baghdad James Spione Saving Face Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen
The Artist Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius The Descendants Kevin Tent The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall Hugo Thelma Schoonmaker Moneyball Christopher Tellefsen
Foreign Language Film
Bullhead Belgium Footnote Israel In Darkness Poland Monsieur Lazhar Canada A Separation Iran
Albert Nobbs Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng The Iron Lady Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland
Music (Original Score)
The Adventures of Tintin John Williams The Artist Ludovic Bource Hugo Howard Shore Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Alberto Iglesias War Horse John Williams
Music (Original Song)
Man or Muppet from The Muppets Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie Real in Rio from Rio Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett
The Artist Thomas Langmann, Producer The Descendants Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Scott Rudin, Producer The Help Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers Hugo Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers Midnight in Paris Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers Moneyball Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers The Tree of Life Nominees to be determined War Horse Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
Short Film (Animated)
Dimanche/Sunday Patrick Doyon The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg La Luna Enrico Casarosa A Morning Stroll Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe Wild Life Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
Short Film (Live Action)
Pentecost Peter McDonald and Eimear O'Kane Raju Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren The Shore Terry George and Oorlagh George Time Freak Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey Tuba Atlantic Hallvar Witzø
Drive Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Ren Klyce Hugo Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty Transformers: Dark of the Moon Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl War Horse Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson Hugo Tom Fleischman and John Midgley Moneyball Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick Transformers: Dark of the Moon Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin War Horse Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson Hugo Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning Real Steel Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg Rise of the Planet of the Apes Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett Transformers: Dark of the Moon Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
The Descendants Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash Hugo Screenplay by John Logan The Ides of March Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon Moneyball Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin Story by Stan Chervin Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Screenplay by Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan
Writing (Original Screenplay)
The Artist Written by Michel Hazanavicius Bridesmaids Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig Margin Call Written by J.C. Chandor Midnight in Paris Written by Woody Allen A Separation Written by Asghar Farhadi