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Published February 21 2013

Benshoof: Cheat sheet for faking your way through Oscar weekend

FARGO - If you thought it seemed like movies were longer than usual in 2012, you’re probably right.

Indeed, there are four movies nominated for the best picture Academy Award that have a runtime of two and a half hours or longer: “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Les Misérables,” “Django Unchained” and “Lincoln.”

How significant is that? Well, it’s as many two-and-a-half-hour best picture nominees as the last five years combined.

If you’ve been putting off seeing some of the longer movies, you’ve just about run out of time.

Luckily, it’s possible for you to appear like you’ve seen the films anyway when you attend your Oscar parties on Sunday. Here’s what you need to do to fake your way through the weekend:

Discussions: For the next few days, people will be talking about what they think deserves to win best picture and why. But if you haven’t seen all the nominees, what do you do?

Well, you pretend.

Start by bringing up an issue from the news. One option is the torture controversy surrounding “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Try telling your friends and family you don’t think any film that includes torture should win best picture. Be sure to be convincing about it.

Alternatively, make yourself appear in-the-know by referring to a director, actor or actress’s past nominations.

For example, if someone brings up the supporting actor category, you could mention Tommy Lee Jones not getting nominated for “No Country for Old Men” in 2008.

“He got snubbed,” you can say. “He deserves to win this time.”

That will require a little bit of time studying up on each nominee, but it’ll be far less than what you’d spend sitting in the theater.

Picking the winners

Another tradition on Oscar weekend is filling out your ballot to pick the winners of each category.

But again, what if you never made it to all the movies? The obvious answer is to make the conventional picks that everyone else is also making.

When that happens, though, everyone ends up with the same ballots. And where’s the fun in that?

Instead, take a different approach – something I call the “Kevin Bacon Method.”

Modeled after the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game, it works like this: Chose the nominees who are connected to Bacon in as few moves as possible.

Let’s use the best actress category. After a bit of researching, I’m fairly confident that only Jennifer Lawrence is connected to Bacon in one step – both were in “X Men: First Class” in 2011.

All other nominees have only a two-step connection at best. Therefore, Lawrence will be the winner (you’re welcome).

It may take a little while to find the connections, but if you have limited time to make your picks, it’s your best bet.

Unless there’s a tie in connections, in which case you just have to guess. Don’t worry. Actors have won statues based on less.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535