Time to lay out the rules for the 2014 edition of the "Beat Berardinelli" Oscar prediction contest. There are some tweaks from last year's rules, a few of which are designed to make my job easier. There has also been a change in the prize. This year, my "live commentary" will come in the form of tweets. That's the easiest way to do that sort of thing. These days, pretty much everyone does some form of live Oscar commentary but I started doing it back when it was a little more unusual. I can recall updating a single html file all night long. The earliest one in the ReelViews "deep archives" is from 1998.
What's the Objective/How to Win: Simple. You accrue points for each correct winner (except the shorts - that makes 21 categories). If your point total exceeds my point total and that of everyone else who enters, you win. In the case of a tie, there are two tiebreakers. In the highly unlikely event that no one beats my total, I win. When it comes to Oscar prognostication, I'm not an expert - my ballots tend to be a little above average but not stratospheric. I am typically beaten by about 1/3 of those who enter. (Please note: when considering my score, the operative term is "beat" - if you tie me, there are no tiebreakers and you do not win. That's why I don't guess an end time. That also means that in the highly unlikely event that I get a perfect score, there will be no winners.)
To the Victor Go the Spoils: This year, there's only one prize. I'll review a movie of your choice. The only limitation is that the movie has to be available for rent from Netflix (streaming or through-the-mail DVD). 2013's winner might be wondering where his prize is from last year. (The request was to review Chris Nolan's Following.) It's still pending. In fact, it's next on my list of video reviews. Please note that I don't set time limits on when the review will be written. I tend not to meet such deadlines. Rest assured that it will get done, however. The movie to be reviewed can be a classic I have missed, a personal favorite of yours, an obscure film you want to expose to me, or something you feel I should suffer through in the name of completeness. A couple of years ago I pre-emptively wrote a review of Salo after someone requested a review of Cannibal Holocaust, so both of those are off the table. But there's always Human Centipede.
How to Enter: Fill out the ballot found in the ReelViews forums (this is the link) by removing all the titles in each category but the one you choose as the winner. (Refer to the sample, which is my ballot.) Cut and paste your ballot as a follow-up entry in the forum. Important: Your entry must appear in the forum for it to be valid. If you don't have a forum login, you can obtain one by registering. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE REGISTRATION PROCESS HAS CHANGED. In order to register, you now have to e-mail me directly to do so. Since it may take a couple of days for me to process the registration, DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. (The link to the registration process can be found here.) No Oscar ballots directly e-mailed to me will be accepted. You have to enter them yourself into the forum. Confusing or incomplete ballots will be rejected. The contest link will be "open" from approximately noon EST on Sunday, February 23 until exactly noon EST on Saturday, March 1, 2014. You are free to change your selections (by editing your own post) until the deadline when the forum will be locked. If you edit a ballot, however, I would appreciate it if you could highlight the changes, preferably by making them bold and using a different font color. That way I don't have to wade through the entire thing looking for the changes. The winner will be announced in the forum and by e-mail. Hopefully, this will happen on March 3, although it depends how many ballots I have to score.
There is a point system involved. Awards are grouped into three categories. MAJORS - Picture, Director, Lead & Supporting Actor, Lead & Supporting Actress. MEDIUMS - Adapted & Original Screenplay, Foreign Language Film, Documentary Feature, Animated Feature. MINORS - Everything else (ten total). MAJORS are worth three points each. MEDIUMS are worth two points each. MINORS are worth one point each. Maximum total points: 38.
There are two tiebreakers. The first is simple: If two (or more) entrants are tied in points, the one with the highest total of correct nominations wins. In the event that this doesn't resolve the tie, we move to "Guess the time (EST) when the Best Picture winner is announced." This should appear at the bottom of your ballot. It's optional, but if you don't fill it in and you end up in a tie-breaker, you lose. The time used is the official time per www.time.gov, not the time on your living room clock. I'll post the time as part of the live event coverage. My decision is binding. Whoever gets closest to the time wins the tiebreaker. If there are still ties after the second tie-breaker, I'll figure out something - could be multiple winners or I could come up with something devious as a third tiebreaker.
For those interested in history, short though it may be… In 2012, I scored 27 out of a possible 38 points. The winner that year scored 33 points. Last year, I scored 26 out of a possible 38 points. Four people scored 33 points. Two of those four tied on both the first and second tie-breakers, so I ended up giving out two prizes. So the score the beat if you want bragging rights is probably in the 25-28 range. The score to beat if you want to tell me what to review is probably around 33-34.
My official ballot will be added to this post on Saturday, February 22. It's locked for me once it's posted. I don't get to change it. [Update: Here’s a link to my picks.]
Good luck. I feel certain I'll be soundly trounced.