of the calendar that the 76th annual Academy Award ceremony falls on Leap Day (Feb. 29 at 8 p.m. on ABC). But imagine how exciting the show would be if the Oscars came only once every four years, like the Olympics. A four-year pool of nominees would overflow with talent -- all three Lord of the Rings films would compete with each other -- and the anticipation would make the show a real thrill. The upside: less time on the red carpet with Joan and Melissa Rivers. The downside: The Golden Globes would become a bigger deal.
Unfortunately, that's not that case. This year's awards show should be as dull as ever, so as a public service we offer our Oscar Drinking Game to liven up the broadcast. That way, you can booze it up until you start slurring and swaying like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, and then the morning after claim you meant to be doing an impression.
But first, pick a designated driver by telling one person he can drink only when Dirty Pretty Things or Brother Bear win an award.
If host Billy Crystal mentions Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, have a Virgin Mary.
If Crystal imitates Howard Dean's scream or Janet Jackson's Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction," speculate loudly why Crystal hasn't done anything since Analyze That.
If anyone mentions the broadcast's five-minute tape delay, have a drink five minutes later.
If The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King wins Best Picture, mix a kiwi fruit daiquiri -- and take forever to finish it.
If Seabiscuit wins Best Picture, mix a round of Mint Juleps and race to see who finishes it first.
If Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World wins Best Picture, toast Her Majesty, quaff a ration of grog and curse the godforsaken French.
If Cold Mountain wins Best Music (Original Score), have a shot of Southern Comfort and curse the godforsaken Yankees.
If In America wins Best Writing (Original Screenplay), have a shot of Irish whiskey and curse the godforsaken Americans.
If Pirates of the Caribbean wins anything, sing "Yo-ho-ho," finish a bottle of rum and curse the Black Pearl.
If Bill Murray wins Best Actor for Lost in Translation, have a shot of Suntory whiskey and say with feeling, "For relaxing times, make it Suntory time."
If Sean Penn wins Best Actor for Mystic River, kill the beer belonging to a traumatized childhood friend, punch out the paparazzi and go on a fact-finding mission to Iraq.
If Renee Zellweger wins Best Supporting Actress for Cold Mountain, drink whiskey from a jug and pull the head off a rooster.
If The Last Samurai wins Best Art Direction, drink an Asahi beer and brandish a cocktail sword. You'll still look more like a samurai than Tom Cruise.
If Sofia Coppola makes Oscar history by being the first woman to win Best Directing for Lost in Translation, have a shot of sake and stare moodily out a hotel window for hours on end.
If Ben Kingsley wins Best Actor for House of Sand and Fog, move into a neighbor's house, refuse to vacate it and drink whatever you find in the liquor cabinet.
If Charlize Theron wins Best Actress for Monster, drink until you gain 30 pounds, ruin your teeth and start turning tricks on Florida highways.
If Diane Keaton wins Best Actress for Something's Gotta Give, have an Old-Fashioned and flash your breasts.
If Keisha Castle-Hughes wins Best Actress for Whale Rider, have a Shirley Temple and wonder why the 13-year-old New Zealander wasn't in The Lord of the Rings if she's so damn talented.
If Peter Jackson wins Best Directing for The Lord of the Rings, have a zombie and salute his schlocky early films like Dead Alive.
If 21 Grams wins anything, snort 21 grams of heroin until your evening becomes an impassioned, chronologically scrambled ordeal of torment and redemption ... and then die.
If City of God wins Best Cinematography, drink a caipirinha, snort some coke, pass out and wake up in a slum in Rio de Janeiro.
If Girl With a Pearl Earring wins anything, smoke some weed.
If anyone mispronounces the names of House of Sand and Fog's Shohreh Aghdashloo, City of God's Fernando Meirelles or In America's Djimon Hounsou, drink a bullshot made of alphabet soup.
If Alec Baldwin wins Best Supporting Actor for The Cooler, sip a wine cooler and exclaim, "Hey, it's Kim Basinger's ex-husband!"
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