Attention film fans: It’s Oscar contest time

You’re a film buff. A movie expert. A student of American cinema.

Or you’re just a really good guesser.

If any of those are the case, you’ll want to enter The Wichita Eagle’s annual Oscar Ballot Contest, which offers a top prize of $350 worth of gift certificates to the Warren Theatres that are good not only for movie admission but also for popcorn, nachos, cold beer – anything the theater sells.

The 87th annual Academy Award nominations were announced Thursday morning, and the ceremony will air starting at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22 on ABC, Cable Channel 10 and 2010. (The “red carpet” arrivals start at 6 p.m.)

“It’s fun,” said Dan Gray, vice president for operations at the Warren Theatre chain. “The Oscars are something that we in our business see as a timeless thing. It’s a historical thing. It’s one thing that I think a lot of the general public likes to pay attention to.”

There are two separate age categories. The winner of the contest in each group will be the person who guesses the most categories correctly in an online Oscars ballot. Contestants have until 4 p.m. on Feb. 22, to make their guesses in 24 categories (10 for the younger category). Only one ballot is allowed for each person.

The first-place winner in the 18 and older category (ENTER HERE | Official Rules) will get $350 in Warren Theatre gift certificates followed by $200 for the second place winner and $100 for the third place winner. There’s also a category for young movie fans ages 13-17 (ENTER HERE | Official Rules), who will win $150 in gift certificates to the Warren for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third. For more rules, see Page 4C.

The prizes will be fun, for sure, Gray said, and they will save some movie fans many entertainment dollars.

But part of the fun of Oscar season is just talking about the nominated films with fellow fans. Will Michael Keaton complete his comeback with a best actor Oscar for “Birdman”? Will Oscar voters reward otherwise snubbed “Selma” with a best picture Oscar? These are the questions that will populate water cooler discussions throughout January and February.

“It’s a discussion piece,” Gray said. “Movies are always a discussion piece with general public. How many times are you at a party when movies come up?”

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