Screw Dave in the IT department! This is the year you win the office Oscar pool.
Here's what you're gonna do: You're gonna close all your browsers except this one, you're gonna focus and you're gonna let us help you fill out your ballot completely—and confidently—from Best Picture down to all the other categories you always kinda guess at.
Behold our five surefire strategies for securing your place in cubicle history:
1. Do not vote for an Avatar sweep.
Conversely, don't vote for a Hurt Locker sweep, either. This is a Crash-Brokeback Mountain kinda year, not a Titanic-takes-it-all coronation. So split your votes, and sit back and watch as your department's blindly loyal Team James Cameron and Team Kathryn Bigelow members cancel out each other.
Our chief split-ballot suggestions: Avatar for Best Picture; Bigelow for Best Director; Cameron for Best Attempt to Act Humble.
2. Remember the locks.
Randy Newman didn't win for The Natural—The Natural! He doesn't win period (except for the one time he won, of course). So cross him and his two, vote-splitting Princess and the Frog Original Song nominees off your list.
Nick Park always wins (except for the one time he lost...to himself). So circle his name and his film A Matter of Loaf and Death in the Animated Short category.
3. If the corset fits, you must acquit—er, vote for the movie with the most constrictive clothes.
The suck-it-in crowd's on a four-year winning streak in Costume Design: Memoirs of a Geisha, Marie Antoinette, Elizabeth: The Golden Age and, most recently, The Duchess. And that's only the last four years. There's always been Academy love in this race for the painfully thin and powerful. (See: Henry V, The Age of Innocence, Shakespeare in Love, etc.)
This year, Bright Star and The Young Victoria both fit the bill. Give the edge to The Young Victoria, which complements its corsets with—score!—a crown.
4. Do you see a documentary about the Holocaust on your ballot? Pick it.
This tried-and-true method cannot fail this year because, well, there is no nominated Holocaust documentary, short or feature.
While this sucks for you, all is not lost.
Look for the docs that sound as if they might be about the Holocaust, Holocaust survivors and/or World War II.
Examples from past winners: Man on Wire, A Time for Justice, A Note of Triumph. Get where we're going here?
Vote for the German-y Rabbit à la Berlin for Documentary Short and the atrocity-exposing The Cove for Documentary Feature. (Note: Do not try this in the Best Picture field; Inglourious Basterds is not going to win—unless the Academy's new, weird voting system produces a pool-busting upset. And wouldn't that be annoying after all our hard work here?)
5. Ask yourself, Which film made my ears hurt and, at the same time, made my heart swell with patriotism?
Saving Private Ryan, perhaps? Braveheart? Pearl Harbor? Fact: War movies that go boom blow up in Sound Editing. Fact: If you pick any movie other than The Hurt Locker in the category, Dave from IT deserves to win the office pool. Again.
Want to explore some office-pool theories of your own? Let the past be your Oscar guide in our 10 Years of Winners gallery.