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Play the Oscars Stock Market

A free iPhone application lets you invest in “stocks” of Academy Award contenders.

The Los Angeles Times has turned Oscar forecasting into a virtual stock market with its The Envelope iPhone and iPod Touch application.

The free application gives you $10,000 of play money that you can use to purchase shares in the Academy Award nominees you expect to win March 7. Stock values rise and fall as people buy and sell shares -- just like the real stock market.

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Once you create a username and password, a screen with your portfolio will appear. You’ll see 15 award categories. Click on one to get started. To help you decide which “stock” to buy, the application provides the latest awards news from the L.A. Times. The priciest, as of March 3, is Christopher Waltz at $98 for his supporting actor role in Inglorious Basterds.

As your stock picks rise in price, so does your portfolio value. And you can see your ranking as the trading progresses. The player with the highest portfolio value on awards night wins.

More-serious "investors" can trade virtual entertainment securities on the Hollywood Stock Exchange. It's not just limited to stocks of Academy Award nominees. You also can trade bonds of celebrities, funds of movie studios and futures contracts (in real dollars) in upcoming releases.

And be sure to see our picks for movie rentals that pay you back.

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