Odds and picks for every category at the 2018 Oscars
Each year there seems to be some cause celebre that dominates the Oscars. Last year it was about recognizing the oppression of black people in the industry and this year it's the #MeToo movement. At the Golden Globes and BAFTA, the celebrities wore black as a way to protest sexual impropriety to women and make no mistakes the voting is influenced by the cause of the day. There have already been calls to celebrate more women in directing, who many feel aren't being represented because men keep them down in that area and several actresses will get sympathy votes to let them know others are thinking of them. With that in mind here are betting predictions for every category at the Academy Awards.
Usually this category is very predictable but the last 3 or 4 years it has been a toss-up. There was never any real favorite for best picture heading in to the Awards season although Dunkirk, Ladybird, The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri were drawing the most attention. The latter film became the favorite tio win the Best Picture Oscar after its win at The Golden Globes, although the Shape of Water became the favorite near the end of January, after it garnered 13 Academy Award nominations and won the Producers Guild of America award for best picture, which has been a great predictor of the award (20 of the 28 times the winner of that award won best picture). Lady Bird and Get Out, the only real other contenders rose sharply in odds, while Dunkirk faded into oblivion and can now be had at odds as high as 80/1. The big move in the betting odds on The Shape of Water to about 3-5 odds after the nominations were announced made little sense. It was clear that the actors wanted Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri to win this. The movie about a mother who challenged authorities by placing billboards on the highway to shame them into putting more effort in finding her daughter's killers and somehow that got equated to the #MeToo movement. As well it's a type of topic that wins Oscars. Three Billboards rose to almost 2-1 in offshore sports books as money came in on The Shape of Water, but the odds reversed again after Three Billboards won best cast at the SAGS and the top awards for Best Picture and Best British Picture at the BAFTA Awards. This is precisely what happened in 2010 when the King's Speech overtook all the early favorites to become the clear choice of the Academy. And the film went on to sweep the awards.
Prediction: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri will win best picture and can still be found online at odds as high as even money.
Most industry analysts will agree that Timothée Chalamet's performance in Call Me by Your Name is likely the most deserving, but Gary Oldman is winning everything for his performance in Darkest Hour. He won the Golden Globe, he won the SAG Award, he won the BAFTA Award, he's won almost 80% of the Critics Awards and he will win best actor.
Prediction: Gary Oldman is about as sure a thing as there comes, but at bettors must ask if 1/30 odds or worse is worth betting.
This looked like a close race between Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird until McDormand started winning everything. Like Oldman she won the Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA and about 50% of the critic's awards. And somehow, she has been on the talk shows as the poster woman for women's rights.
Prediction: Frances McDormand will win at odds of about 1/15 or less
Christopher Nolan in Dunkirk was the early favorite, but like the film itself, interest in him has dwindled. The director now getting all the attention is Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water. He became the clear favorite after winning the Golden Globe and the overwhelming favorite after winning the DGA Award. Only three times in 65 years has a director been nominated for both the DGA Award and the Oscar and not gone on to win the Oscar. Steven Spielberg for The Color Purple, Ron Howard for Apollo 13 and Ben Affleck won the DGA Award but weren't nominated for the Oscar. With a history like that, it's impossible not to bet on Guillermo del Toro. Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird is the only director I can see upsetting the apple cart in an effort to award a woman for directing, but that is highly unlikely.
Prediction: Guillermo del Toro at odds at 1/10 odds or worse is a safe bet.
Best Supporting Actor:
This was always pegged as a two-person race between Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project. In fact, Dafoe was the early favorite. But Rockwell has been sweeping the awards including the Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA. He has won less than 50% of critic's awards and film festival awards, but that won't matter at this point.
Prediction: Sam Rockwell at odds of about 1/6 or worse is a safe prediction for the award.
Best Supporting Actress:
Alison Janney is the overwhelming 1/7 favorite after winning the SAG, Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards and likely won't be beat. Strangely, Janney and the film itself, I, Tonya were not even discussed until it started doing well in the film festivals. The film focuses on Tonya Harding and the incident that led to the attack on Nancy Kerrigan and despite the dark nature of the topic it has been heralded. But due to the controversial topic alone, I can see Janney being upset by some Academy voters who don't want to award Harding in any way. The only logical alternative is Laurie Metcalf for her performance in Lady Bird. She was expected to be the winner until the start of the awards season.
Prediction: While Janney will likely win the award, a small wager on Laurie Metcalf at 5/1 for her performance in Lady Bird is worth the risk.
Best Animated Film:
Prediction: Coco will win at odds of 1/100. Let's move on.
Best Adapted Screenplay:
The screenplay awards are usually an opportunity for the Academy to reward films that won't fare well in other categories. For adapted screenplay it's evident. Call Me by Your Name has virtually no chance of winning anything else and its up against four unrecognizable films that were never even considered for other awards:
Prediction: Call Me by Your Name will win at odds of 1/25 or less.
Best Original Screenplay:
Unlike with adapted screenplay, this will be close. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Shape of Water are both nominated, but only Three Billboards is given a shot of the two. The Big Sick has no chance, but Get Out and Lady Bird are real contenders. Get Out is the 5/4 favorite while Three Billboards is 3/2 odds and Lady Bird is 3/1. Three Billboards won both the Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards, but as I mentioned the Academy often looks elsewhere when it's clear a film is going to do extremely well. I don't believe Get Out will get as much interest as many expect, given it's a horror film, which leaves Lady Bird. Despite the fact it's nominated for many awards, it really has no shot of winning anything else. There has been a real push lately for more recognition of the film, which is very indicative of what happened in 1996 when the Academy awarded Billy Bob Thornton for Sling Blade, even though it had no shot of beating the English Patient for Best Picture. It could also be an indirect way of awarding Greta Gerwig.
Prediction: Lady Bird will produce a mild upset with a 3/1 win.
Best Original Song:
When it comes to best original song I usually go on YouTube and listen to the songs to get an idea and it's worked quite well. Other than the travesty of when It Goes Like It Goes beat Rainbow Connection, the winners have been predictable. It's also important to look at the singers and writers since popular names do have an advantage. That said, there are no big names out there this year. This seems to be a three-way race between 'Remember Me' from Coco, 'This is Me' from The Greatest Showman and 'Mystery of Love' from Call Me by Your Name. Disney/Pixar films have won the award 12 times which is likely why Remember Me is favored, but make no mistake, this song is not a Disney classic that will be remembered for generations such as When You Wish Upon a Star, Under the Sea or Can You Feel the Love Tonight. The truth is the song is short, dull and just isn't that good. This is Me, on the other hand has a nice melody and is memorable. And while The Mystery of Love is better than Remember Me, it's not as good as the song from The Greatest Showman:
Prediction: This is Me should win the award at odds of 3/2. If Remember Me wins I will be disappointed.
The cinematography award almost always goes to a best picture nominee which would seem to give Dunkirk and The Shape of Water the advantage, but the heavy favorite is Blade Runner 2049 which is not nominated for any of the big awards. Add to that the fact that Roger Deakins, the cinematographer for Blade Runner 2049 has never won in 13 prior nominations and it's kind of shocking that the film is the 1/10 favorite. Yet Blade Runner is winning all the major cinematography awards including the BAFTA award and more importantly the American Cinematographers Award. But that last award, while considered an important predictor of the Oscars, has only been right about 50% of the time and has never been correct when a minor film is going up against a major contender, e.g. Lion last year.
Prediction: 1 to 10 odds is just too low to justify betting on Blade Runner 2049. I'm going to suggest taking both Dunkirk at 8/1 and The Shape of Water at 15/1 and look for Deakins' losing streak to continue.
Best Sound Mixing and Sound Editing:
As a rule, the winner of sound gets both awards. Dunkirk has been dominating the awards, including most recently the Cinema Audio Society Awards. As I understand it the majority of Academy voters usually allow the sound experts to choose this category by not casting a vote and as such Dunkirk should get both awards.
Prediction: Dunkirk at 1/7 odds will continue to beat Baby Driver and the Shape of Water, which has been its biggest foe.
Looking at the last 20 Academy Awards, the favorite has won in this category every time when it was a 3/5 favorite or better. This year The Shape of Water is a 1/5 favorite with only Dunkirk close in odds. I won't buck the trend and predict that the Academy will give the Oscar to the film that is seen as having the best soundtrack.
Prediction: The Shape of Water at 1/5 odds seems like a safe bet.
Best Film Editing:
This award seems to be a toss-up between Dunkirk and Baby Driver. While the latter film was never considered a serious challenger for any of the big awards it is well accepted that the thriller was very well edited. That said, in the past whenever there is a toss-up in these categories it's best to go with the film that has more recognition, particularly a Best Picture nomination, since the Academy will try to award those first.
Prediction: Dunkirk will win film editing at reasonable odds of 3/5.
Best Production Design:
This relatively new category is awarded to the person that is responsible for the overall look of the production. They work closely with the cinematographer and producer which is why there is a strong correlation between cinematography and this category. Surprisingly while Blade Runner 2049 is a 1/10 favorite for cinematography it's a 4/1 longshot here behind the heavily favored The Shape of Water. Dunkirk is in this category as well although it is almost 30/1 in the odds. It's hard to argue, however, that overall The Shape of Water is just a better looking, more well-rounded picture and should beat Blade Runner 2049.
Prediction: To go along with my Cinematography prediction, The Shape of Water at 1/5 odds seems like the logical winner, although the odds may be too low to justify betting it.
Best Visual Effects:
Cinematography and visual effects are highly correlated, yet only Blade Runner 2049 is nominated for both. The remaining films are all very small films that did well at the box office, but that critics loathed – e.g. War of the Planet of The Apes, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Kong: Skull Island. But Blade Runner is not the run-away favorite. Odds makers seem to give Planet of the Apes a reasonable shot to upset it. Planet of the Apes films were nominated twice before and lost both times so some may believe since this is its last chance to award the franchise Academy voters will sympathize and give it the win. However, it must be noted that in the past the visual effects award almost always go to films nominated for more than 1 award and Blade Runner 2049 has 5 nominations while the others only have this one. Moreover, Blade Runner won the BAFTA award in this category and has won most of the critic's awards.
Prediction: Blade Runner at 2/3 odds seems to be very good odds and should easily beat the other films.
Best Costume Design:
This is the only real category that Phantom Thread, a best picture nominee can win in, and the one thing it really has going for it is the costumes. Beauty and the Beast seems to be its biggest competitor, but when in doubt, voters will pick the movie that has gained more accolades in top awards.
Prediction: The Phantom Thread will get its only win at 1/10 odds for best costume.
Best Makeup and Hair Styling:
Darkest Hour, a best Oscar nominee vs. Wonder and Victoria & Abdul which I'm sure no one has heard of and would never go see in the theaters. More importantly Darkest Hour won all 4 awards for best makeup and hair styling including the BAFTA Award and that's good enough for me.
Prediction: Darkest Hour will win this award easily at 1/20 odds.
Best Foreign Language Film:
This category has produced some stunning upsets, such as when No Man's Land beat 1/20 favorite and best picture nominee Amilee in 2001, when Tsotsi stunned in 2005 beating Paradise Now, which seemed like a sure thing and in 2006 when The Lives of Others at 50/1 beat Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, which was considered to have a best picture shot. Even last year's winner, The Salesman, was a bit of a surprise. It's notable that none of the major award shows even nominate the same films, let alone agree on the winners. BAFTA gave the award to The Handmaiden, which isn't nominated for the Oscar and the Golden Globes gave it to In the Fade, which isn't nominated for the Oscar. Talking to people in the industry, it's understood that the Academy doesn't like to interfere in this category, so they let the foreign-language committee voters choose the winner, which is why there are upsets. As is the case in many film festivals the foreign-language committee comprises critics who often have different interpretations of what is good than the public or other Academy voters do. This year's nominees include A Fantastic Woman, a Chilean movie about a woman who is under suspicion for the murder of her husband; The Square, a Swedish movie about an art curator who has to manage an art deco piece called the Square in the midst of all sorts of troubles; Loveless, a Russian film about a boy who runs away and the efforts of his parents who have fallen out of love to find him; The Insult, a Lebanese movie about two men who are involved a large violent confrontation after the Lebanese man apparently insults the Palestinian man for a drainpipe he didn't fix properly; and on Body and Soul, a bizarre Hungarian film about a man and a woman working at an abattoir who envision their lives as deer. Sweden has won the award 3 times in 16 nominations, Russia/Soviet Union has won 4 times in 16 nominations, Hungary has won twice in 10 nominations and both Chile and Lebanon are winless in very few submissions.
Prediction: I'm going to look for the upset and pick Loveless at 12/1 odds for a topic that will garner the emotions of the voters and for a movie which recently has been getting a lot more coverage in the media.
Best Documentary Feature:
Faces, Places is the heavy 1/4 favorite and is about a French couple who create portraits of people they have come across. It has a 100% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is widely acclaimed. Icarus is the 4/1 second choice about a doping scandal in a cycling race and which highlighted the cheating that occurred in Russia to get their athletes ahead. Last Men in Aleppo is a documentary about the Syrian War crisis has gotten some acclaim at 10/1 odds. And the other 2 films Strong Island and Abacus: Small Enough to Jail have gotten little acclaim and are very high odds as a result. Faces, Places seems to be the logical choice but both Aleppo and Russian doping have been in the news quite a bit of late. The latter has especially been mentioned due to the Olympics and the IOC's decision to ban Russian Athletes and force them to compete in the Olympics under the OAR label.
Prediction: An upset in the making as the hype of the Olympics at voting time and the coverage the topic has received will convince voters to cast their votes for Icarus at 4/1 odds.
For the short categories I have no knowledge, so I turn to a friend who has produced short films and who has been quite successful in his predictions. Here is his analysis:
Best Documentary Short
This is a two-horse race between Edith and Eddie and Heroin(e). Edith and Eddie is a better known film since Cher produced it but Heroin(e) is a more important film that focuses on the opioid crisis in West Virginia (and really all of North America) and tries to portray addicts as people who should be treated with respect rather than labelled as helpless junkies.
Prediction: Heroin(e) is a more important film and therefore will get the award. (Heroin(e) is available at 5/2 odds.)
Best Animated Short
Again, this is a two-horse race between Dear Basketball and Lou. The other three shorts sucked. Dear Basketball, is Kobe Bryant's big effort to congratulate himself for offering his services to the game while Lou is a Pixar short about a toy box. I personally liked Dear Basketball better and many voters at the Oscars are friends with Kobe and attend Lakers games. I think they may even get free tickets for supporting this thing although they won't admit it. Besides Pixar is going to win for Coco. They don't need this as well.
Prediction: Dear Basketball will take the award and some voters will get to sit at the game with Jack Nicholson as a thank you for their support. (Dear Basketball is the 1/3 favorite in the odds).
Best Live Action Short
This is a very close race between DeKalb Elementary, The Silent Child and The Eleven O'Clock. Forget the other 2 shorts. I personally didn't like DeKalb Elementary. The topic hits way too close to home with the recent school shootings and it wasn't visually appealing. It felt like something you would see a high school student producing. The Eleven O'Clock is kind of interesting but I think the heavy Australian accents take away from it and will lose favor with voters. The Silent Child is intriguing, well produced and anyone can easily watch it and be empathetic from start to finish about a deaf child and her struggles.
Prediction: The Silent Child will get this category. (The Silent Child is 4/1 in the betting).
For a complete list of updated Oscars betting odds, click here.