Another year, another set of movies vying for Oscar gold.
There are rules. 1) "Twilight" kids, this game's not for you. 2) Those who favor hair-poofs and no pants need not apply. 3) Stick with the tried-and-true types of films and stars the academy loves most; prepare to win big.
History, as the saying goes, repeats itself. One need only look at the Oscar winners and nominees of the past to know what's likely to captivate the academy in the present. Below, check out ABCNews.com's take on 10 ways to win an Oscar (or at least get nominated for an award), freshly formatted to apply to this year's crop of contenders.
1. Be pregnant. In addition scoring Golden Globe and SAG awards for her turn in "Black Swan," Natalie Portman has another reason to anticipate hoisting a golden statuette above her head come Feb. 27: She's pregnant. The academy long has awarded expecting actresses, including Eva Marie Saint (for "On the Waterfront"), Meryl Streep ("Sophie's Choice"), Catherine Zeta-Jones ("Chicago") and Rachel Weisz ("The Constant Gardener"). Zeta-Jones even gushed about her state when she accepted her best supporting actress award in 2003: "My hormones are way too out of control to be dealing with this!"
2. Feature a disability. Colin Firth probably should make some room on his mantel before the 27th. Besides his critically acclaimed, much-lauded performance in "The King's Speech" (Golden Globe? Check. SAG? Check.), he played a role the academy relishes: a character with a disability. Firth affected a speech impediment. Oscar winners and nominees before him have faked palsies (Daniel Day Lewis in "My Left Foot") and channeled mental illness (Billy Bob Thornton in "Sling Blade," Sean Penn in "I Am Sam").
3. Put Jeff Bridges in it. He's rugged, he's real and he's really good looking for a man his age -- 61. What's not to like about Jeff Bridges? Apparently, the academy feels the same way lately, finally having awarded him an Oscar last year for "Crazy Heart." (He'd previously been nominated four times.) Bridges is up for best actor again for "True Grit." If he wins, he'll be the sixth person in history to score back-to-back best actor/actress Academy Awards.
4. Give 'em "Bahstaan" accents. Boston or British -- if a movie boasts one of these affectations of speech, there's a 47 percent chance the Oscar committee will look its way. Previously, "Good Will Hunting" and "The Departed" appealed to the academy's proclivities towards the Red Sox, M.I.T. and the Irish mob. This time around, the Boston-based boxing epic "The Fighter" boasts seven nominations.
5. Spotlight homosexual issues. "Philadelphia." "Boys Don't Cry." "Milk." All told poignant stories concerning the LGBT community; all won Oscars. While "The Kids Are Alright," about lesbian partners whose children seek out their sperm donor father, takes a more lighthearted tone than those three films, it hits all the right notes, and thus it's up for three major Oscars.
6. Tell a horribly tragic story. There are those movies about life that induce depression, gloom, and a general feeling of, "Is this really what it's all about?" Into this melancholy category fall past Oscar nominees and winners "Requiem for a Dream," "Leaving Las Vegas," and "Monster's Ball." Current contender "Blue Valentine" (for best actress, Michelle Williams), which chronicles the crumbling of a couple's marriage, joins them in the annals of ennui.
7. Be the protege among the vets. Pint-sized Hailee Steinfeld held her own In "True Grit," flanked by Hollywood heavyweights Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin and Matt Damon. The 14-year-old breakout star scored a best supporting actress nomination for her turn as Mattie Ross, a vengeful teen seeking justice for her father's death in the Wild West. Don't underestimate the power of a previously unheard-of starlet: Tatum O'Neal won the best supporting actress Oscar for "Paper Moon" at age 10 and Anna Paquin won the same award for "The Pianist" at age 11.
8. Feature an art. The academy has a soft spot for the finer things in life. Take classical music -- "Amadeus," the biopic about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, won eight Oscars in 1985. Martial arts, too -- "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" scored four statues in 2001. This year, it's all about pirouettes and plies, with the ballet thriller "Black Swan" nominated for 12 awards.
9. Make it otherworldly. Suspension of disbelief: It's hard to pull off, but when a movie succeeds in making the viewer buy into aliens or alternate realities, the academy often doles out the gold guys. Last year, "Avatar" crossed the boundaries of space, dimension and technology to win three Oscars, including best picture. Previously, "Aliens," "Star Wars" and "E.T." enjoyed similar success. "Inception" joins them as another not-of-this-universe mind-bender; it's nominated for eight awards.
10. Make it a sign of our times. It used to be that the Academy veered toward period pieces (in the vein of "Shakespeare in Love") biopics (a la "Gandhi") and epics (hello, "Rocky"), not films that portrayed today. Times, they are a changing. Two of last year's best picture nominees -- "The Hurt Locker," which won the award, and "Up in the Air" -- told stories rooted in the present. This year, "The Social Network" carries on their legacy, with a totally 21st century topic (Facebook) and eight Oscar nominations to status update about.