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7 Secrets To Making An Oscar-Winning Movie

BuzzFeed analyzed data on all Best Picture winners since the 1930s to find the perfect Oscar bait. It should be a drama with "night" in the title.

Posted on February 22, 2013, at 6:26 p.m. ET

1. Get $41 million.

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In an original data analysis, BuzzFeed looked at the Oscar winners for Best Picture since the 1930s and adjusted all their budgets for inflation. The average budget of a Best Picture winner, in 2013 dollars, is $41 million. So that should be all you need to get started.

2. Find a dramatic script (stay away from comedies).

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Over half the Best Picture winners have been dramas, so sticking to that genre will increase your odds. Your worst bet: musicals, which have won only 9% of the time.

3. Sign Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.

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They are the living actors with most Best Actor or Actress nominations — she has 12, he has 8. They both each have two wins, also the most of any living actor. Others with two: Jodie Foster, Hillary Swank, Sally Field, Sean Penn, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Hanks, and Daniel Day-Lewis. Hire them all and make it an ensemble!

4. Don't make it too long.

Contrary to what you might think, extra-long epics don't do especially well in the Oscar race — just 12% have been over three hours long. Sixty-five percent have been 150 minutes or shorter.

5. Get an R rating.

Forty-five percent of Best Picture winners have been rated R — just 20% got PG-13. So throw in a few extra swear words or some naked people (but not too many, since an NC-17 movie has never won a major Oscar).

6. Consider adding the word "night" or "king" to the title.

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These words appear more frequently than any others (except articles and prepositions) in the titles of Best Picture winners. The average title of a Best Picture winner is three words long — the longest was The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Twenty winners have had one-word titles.

7. Basically, make this movie.

John Gara for BuzzFeed

An R-rated drama starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep should net you an Oscar for sure. All you need is $41 million, an entire crew, and all the skills needed to produce and direct a film. Easy!

Data analysis by Arun Mikkilineni.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.