8. Branch out. The story of a boy who lives in a clock tower wasn't exactly what anyone expected from Martin Scorsese. But that's the point -- by going outside the box, Scorsese charmed audiences in a new way, and racked up nearly a dozen nominations for "Hugo," including best picture.
9. Ditch 3D. Yes, we just waxed poetic about "Hugo," and yes, it's also 3D. But there's a limit for how much love the Academy can give the new technology. While "Avatar" was the toast of the town a few years ago, the 2011 movie Hollywood got most excited about was ... silent. And they shunned Steven Spielberg's "Adventures of Tintin." 3D does not a surefire Oscar favorite make.
10. Put a best seller on the big screen. If there's one tried and true way to win an Oscar, it's this. "Gone with the Wind." "The Blind Side" "Q&A" (better known by its movie name, "Slumdog Millionaire.") This year, the maxim is "The Help's" to prove wrong.