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Ben Affleck isn’t nominated for an Academy Award as director, but his film, Argo, has a good chance to win. (MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)
Ben Affleck isn’t nominated for an Academy Award as director, but his film, Argo, has a good chance to win. (MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)

The secret to winning your Oscar pool: cheating and method acting Add to ...

The final voting on the Academy Awards begins today and ends on Feb. 19, five days before the big night. In the meantime, we’re in what the Hollywood showbiz site The Wrap calls the “Oscar lull.” That means there’s not much left to talk about, since all the pre-Oscar awards have been handed out and campaigning has largely come to a stop.

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So let’s use the lull to take an early jump into the Oscar pools, so you can enjoy your Valentine’s Day without this hanging over your head. The surest approach is to submit a ballot for every possible permutation. With 22 categories of five nominations each, one with nine (best picture) and one with three (makeup), there are more than 64 quadrillion possible ballots. Two catches: You’re going to go bankrupt buying all those ballots and, in any case, the universe will have ended long before you’re finished checking all the boxes.

So that’s the 64-quadrillion-dollar question: How do you narrow your odds? Let’s consider Amour for best foreign film and Daniel Day-Lewis for best actor your freebies on this bingo card. For those other 22 categories, I recommend a process called “cheating.” Go online and read everything on GoldDerby, The Wrap, Awards Daily, Hollywood Deadline and Indiewire. Check out some of the online bookmaking sites and draw up a consensus. Go get your Oscar ballot and follow along.

Let’s start with the three short categories. Short animated? Paperman. Live action? Curfew. Short documentary? Open Heart. People seem to like them. Now, there’s those two sound craft categories nobody quite gets. Sound mixing? Let’s say Les Misérables. That sounds like a musical prize. Sound editing? That’s usually for loud movies. Let’s say Zero Dark Thirty because those explosions were pretty realistic.

Next, we’ve got the seven visual crafts category. Makeup? The Hobbit looks good for that prosthetic stuff. Production design? Let’s say Les Misérables again, for those big looming sets. Give Anna Karenina the nod for best costumes. Cinematography and visual effects should go to Life of Pi. Editing? Argo, because best-picture favourites also tend to win for best editor.

We’re halfway through. Best musical score? Probably five-time Oscar winner John Williams for Lincoln. Best song: Skyfall. Now the two screenplay awards: original screenplay to Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained, with best adapted screenplay to Tony Kushner for Lincoln. Best animation? Frankenweenie. Best documentary: Searching For Sugarman. Best foreign film is that freebie, Amour.

Now for the Big Six: Anne Hathaway for best supporting actress in Les Misérables, Tommy Lee Jones for best supporting actor in Lincoln, Jennifer Lawrence for best actress for Silver Linings Playbook and Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln. Best director goes to Steven Spielberg for Lincoln, since most of his competition (Tarantino, Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Affleck) didn’t get nominated. So that’s 23 down, and, as I said, I promise at least two are right.

And now, drum roll please. For best picture: Argo. Really? Add the Screen Actors Guild ensemble prize, the Producers Guild award and last weekend’s Directors Guild win and the Affleck-Argo bandwagon is hard to ignore even if, arguably, Affleck’s chipper entertainment is the most conventional choice of the nine nominees.

Maybe the best approach is a little method acting. Put yourself in the flip-flops of that typical Oscar voter, who, according to a Los Angeles Times investigation last year, is white (94 per cent), male (77 per cent) and with a median age of 62. Sure, Abraham Lincoln helped to free four million slaves and won the Civil War and the movie is a good history lesson. On the other side, Argo was about some savvy, funny, middle-aged Hollywood producers who created the ultimate runaway production to rescue six American hostages from still-threatening foreign enemies. You’re even the right age to remember when you and your buddies had that shaggy Doobie Brothers look that Affleck wore in the movie. Maybe you’re going to look at your Oscar ballot and say, “Argo – now that’s the kind of movie the average guy can identify with.”

And if that still seems screwy to you, buy a second ballot and mark it Lincoln.

Follow on Twitter: @liamlacey

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