Preview and predictions for betting on the Oscars
For the first time in three years, the Academy Awards will have hosts - Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall. I’m not sure if that's a good thing or bad since the telecasts without hosts tended to go a little quicker and avoided the annoying anecdotes, which only the hosts themselves found amusing. When the Oscars are hosted by multiple emcees, the success has been mixed. The last trio to host an Oscars, in 1987 were Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Paul Hogan and the telecast was quite enjoyable. But in 2011 when James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted together it was a dull and long telecast. This year it appears there will be no restrictions for COVID in place even though cases and hospitalizations have begun to rise. For last year’s Oscars picks I correctly predicted 16 of the 23 categories. Like everyone else, I was stunned to see Chadwick Boseman lose at 1/16 odds for best actor to Anthony Hopkins, and some of my upset choices proved wrong as chalk won most of the awards. That said, The Father for Adapted Screenplay and Mank for Cinematography were correct predictions at quite good odds.
So, let's start with the top categories, almost all odds are courtesy of Bovada as of March 24th, though some odds are only available at European books such at Bet365.
The preferential voting method, which was introduced a few years ago has had an impact on the results. Parasite, Greenbook and Moonlight were apparently trailing after the first ballots were counted but ended up winning because more voters had those films high up on the ballots then the film which was leading after the first ballots were counted. This year it could very much come into play.
Power of the Dog (the 2/3 favorite), a Western set in the 1920s, was a slight underdog to Belfast when Oscar odds first came out in November, but it quickly became the favorite after winning several film festivals awards and the Golden Globe in January and the BAFTA Award a month later. The film remains a slight favorite after CODA (10/11 odds), which stands for Child of Deaf Adults, won the Producer's Guild Award for best picture and after the SAG Awards gave CODA the award for best cast. It is notable that the PGA Awards still hold a 69% success rate at predicting best picture, although it was wrong on Parasite in 2019, Moonlight in 2016 and Spotlight in 2015. The SAG Award for best cast has become a good predictor for best film having awarded Parasite the win, when the PGA gave it to 1917 and going back 7 years only Moonlight was wrong after the SAGs gave the win to Hidden Figures. True there were three years it did not have the best picture winner, but in two of those years the Academy Award winning film wasn’t nominated for the SAG.
Of the remaining films, Belfast (15/1 odds) has seemed to have lost all momentum, losing all awards in the winter months and only showing a BAFTA for best UK Film in its list of accolades. West Side Story (40/1) never really had a chance at the Oscar since remakes rarely generate any interest from the Academy and King Richard (40/1) had little chance either as the film about the father of the Williams’ sisters focused solely on one character and there is a love/hate relationship among the public and the father of Serena and Venus Williams. The other films Dune (50/1), Licorice Pizza (75/1), Don't Look Up (75/1), Drive My Car (100/1) and Nightmare Alley (100/1) have no chance, although Dune will likely win many awards elsewhere.
Prediction: Having won the two most prestigious awards, including the PGA Awards, which will be fresh on voters’ minds having been awarded only a week before the Oscars, CODA will win the Best Picture award. It’s just too bad it wasn’t bet in November when the film was 50/1 odds.
Jane Campion (1/33 odds)
This is about as sure as it comes. Campion, the director of Power of the Dog has won every single award she was nominated for best director, including most importantly the Director’s Guild Award. Aside from 2019 when the DGA gave the award to Sam Mendes instead of Bong-Joon-ho for Parasite and the year the Oscars screwed up by snubbing Ben Affleck for Argo, it’s hard to remember a film where the DGA Award didn’t predict the Oscar winner.
Prediction: It's difficult to bet a 1/33 shot, but betting on anyone else is throwing away money.
Will Smith (1/9 odds)
This category looked close for a while, but Will Smith has won everything, portraying Richard Williams, the father of Serena and Venus Williams and is now the deserved favorite. Benedict Cumberbatch's odds (5/1) were close to Smith for the longest time, but Smith's win in the Golden Globes, BAFTA and SAG Awards seems to have sealed this category’s fate. Andrew Garfield (14/1) in tick, tick . . . Boom! apparently put in a good performance, but will come up short and the other 2 nominees, Denzel Washington (50/1) and Javier Bardem (50/1) have no chance, but both already have Academy Award wins.
Prediction: Will Smith should win the award fairly easily.
Just like last year, this category is too close to call.
Jessica Chastain (2/5 odds at Bovada) became the Oscar favorite after winning the SAG Award and Critic’s Choice Award portraying Tammy Faye Baker, while Nicole Kidman (7/2) won the Golden Globe and AACTA awards portraying Lucille Ball. Olivia Coleman (15/2) and Kristen Stewart (6/1), have both won several Critic’s Choice Awards, although they have failed in all the major awards categories and Penelope Cruz (15/1) has no chance. It is notable that the BAFTA Awards awarded Joanna Scanlan Best Actress, but not one of the Academy Award nominated actors was nominated for the BAFTA, just showing how close this category is.
Prediction: When in doubt, I usually go for the SAG winner, but something tells me that Chastain and Kidman will split the votes and allow either Olivia Coleman or Kristen Stewart to pull this out. Olivia Coleman has already won an Oscar for her role in The Favorite in 2019, but Kristen Stewart is the interesting nominee. She was considered a rising star around 2010 at the age of 20, but fell off the radar until two years ago when she made a bold comeback, which the Academy tends to love. She also is into humanitarian work and Princess Diana is still a topic that is hot in the news thanks to the success of Netflix’s show The Crown. Chastain, Kidman and Coleman were nominated for the SAG, while Stewart wasn’t, which could ironically help her chances.
So, I am calling for the upset and taking Kristen Stewart at 6/1 odds for the first real upset.
Best Supporting Actor
This is a two-way race between Troy Kotsur (2/9 odds) for his role in CODA and Kodi Smit-McPhee (5/2) for his role in Power of The Dog. Smit-McPhee won the Golden Globe award and several Critics Association Awards, while Kotsur won the SAG Award, the BAFTA Award and a couple of other critics’ awards. I tried to find justification for betting on Ciaran Hinds (16/1), Jesse Plemons (35/1) or JK Simmons (40/1), but could find none.
Prediction: The winner of the award could depend on which movie does the best overall. If either CODA or The Power of The Dog start sweeping the awards, then the winner of this award could come with the sweep. My hunch is that CODA will win most of the competitive awards its nominated for, which bodes well for Kotsur. So, my prediction is that Troy Kotsur will win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Best Supporting Actress
This looked to be a competitive category between Ariana DeBose (1/15 odds) for West Side Story and Kirsten Durst (6/1) for her role in The Power of the Dog, but recent awards have resulted in a clear favorite. DeBose has literally won everything. Since January she has won the Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG and Critics Choice Award. She also did quite well in the early Critics Association Awards.
Prediction: Ariana DeBose will win the Award easily at low odds.
Best Original Screenplay
The Writers Guild Award is the best predictor in this category of which film will win the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. Fifteen of 23 WGA winners of this award since 2000 have won the Oscar and most times when a film does not win the Oscar, it is because it wasn't nominated. The films nominated this year are Licorice Pizza (1/1 odds), Belfast (11/10), Don't Look Up (11/2), King Richard (15/1) and The Worst Person in the World (16/1). The WGA award went to Don’t Look Up, the BAFTA Award went to Licorice Pizza, as did some other critic’s awards, while the Golden Globe went to Belfast (they combine original and adapted Screenplay) along with the Critics’ Choice Award and a few other critic’s awards. It is notable that Belfast was not nominated for the WGA Award.
Prediction: This is extremely close, but I’m going to take Belfast. The loss by Licorice Pizza at the WGA will make some Academy voters reconsider that movie and I just don’t see Don’t Look Up winning, despite the its success at the WGA Awards.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Like the Original Screenplay category, this looks to be a two-horse race between CODA (1/2 odds) and The Power of the Dog (8/5). The Lost Daughter at 12/1 and Drive My Car at 14/1 are given a chance by bookmakers, although I don't see either winning. And Dune (50/1) has no chance.
The WGA Award went to CODA as did the BAFTA and as noted the Golden Globe only awards one screenplay award, which went to Belfast. CODA was not nominated at the Globes.
Prediction: My guess is that CODA will win every competitive category it is nominated for including this one. In fact, CODA in this category may be the best bet on the board.
Best Animated Feature
This looked like a close category for the longest time. Encanto (1/8 odds at Bet365), the animated Disney film was always the slight favorite, although the Netflix film The Mitchells vs The Machines (5/1) and Flee (1/12), the Danish film about a gay man who flees Afghanistan for Denmark, were given real chances to beat Encanto. In fact, Flee won some awards for best film, not only best animated film. Luca (20/1) and Raya and the Last Dragon (40/1) were never real contenders.
Things however, changed, as Encanto won everything, including the PGA Award, the BAFTA, the Golden Globe, the Eddie Award and the Art Director’s Guild Award among others.
Prediction: While I think Flee deserves the award, I think Encanto is pretty much a sure thing at low odds.
Best Original Song
Always one of my favorite Oscar categories, whenever I get ready to predict this category, I log onto YouTube and listen to each song. I look at who sings the songs, since more famous artists have an advantage. And lastly, I look at accolades given to the songs elsewhere. This year, name recognition will not make a difference. Four of the 5 singers are well recognized, while Sebastian Yatra, who sings the song for Encanto, is apparently a star in Latin America.
No Time to Die (4/11 odds at Bovada) by Billie Eilish for the James Bond movie of the same name, is the favorite having won the Golden Globe for best song as well as a Grammy Award for best song written for visual media, but personally, I didn’t like it. That said, I’m not an Eilish fan and found the song kind of slow and boring. Dos Origuatas (11/5), which apparently means two caterpillars, is a song by Sebastian Yatra for the film Encanto and Disney films have a stellar record of producing best song winners, the last being Remember Me from the film Coco in 2017. It wasn’t my taste but still had a better tune in my opinion than No time to Die. Be Alive (7/1), the Beyonce song for the film King Richard, actually had quite a good melody, but has lost every time it was nominated. That said, I can see a lot of the Academy voting for the song since Beyonce is loved and they may want to award the film for something other than best actor. Down to Joy (33/1) by Van Morrison was my favorite song, likely because I grew up in the 1970s and remember the likes of Moondance and Into the Mystic, but it also was the best tune in my opinion. It’s possible that this song could pull a huge upset if the older Academy votes for the singer and Eilish and Beyonce cancel each other out. Somehow You Do (40/1), the country song by Reba McEntire, was dull and has little chance.
Prediction: I have a hunch that Be Alive will pull off the upset here at particularly good odds, although I will be putting a small bet on Down to Joy as well . . . for nostalgia's sake.
Best International Feature Film
What used to be a category with huge upset wins, the last few years has gone to all the big favorites. In fact, I can't recall the last real upset in this category. This year’s nominees are Drive My Car (1/25 odds), Flee (15/2), The Worst Person in the World (12/1), The Hand of God (40/1) and Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (40/1).
Drive My Car, a Japanese road film, is the obvious favorite having won most awards to date along with the fact it is nominated for best picture and a few other categories. But I still recall well when Pans Labyrinth and Amélie lost despite being nominated for best picture. Therefore, I'm going to try and beat the favorite.
Flee, as mentioned under the Animated Film category, has had great accolades and seems to hit on every category the Academy will love – gay marriage, Afghanistan and seeking freedom. The Worst Person in the World, a Norwegian film about a woman who may not be the worst person in the world (that honor currently belongs to Vladimir Putin) but isn’t very nice, wouldn't shock either. The other two films have no chance.
Prediction: Although Drive My Car is the logical choice, I’m going to try and beat it with Flee at fairly large odds.
Best Film Editing
This may be the most competitive category. Dune (1/1 odds), King Richard (2/1) and The Power of the Dog (3/1) all have claims. Tick, tick…Boom! (12/1) and Don't Look Up (20/1) have outside chances.
The Film Editing Award (Eddie) is a great predictor of Oscar success, and they awarded the prizes to King Richard for Feature Film – Drama and tick, tick…Boom! for best Feature Film – musical or comedy. The BAFTA Award went to No Time to Die, although only Dune was nominated among the Academy Award nominees. And the Golden Globe went to The Satellite Award, but won’t be awarded until after the Academy Award broadcast.
Prediction: I'll go with the Eddie Award and give slight upset win to King Richard. Unfortunately for The Power of the Dog, I expect it will be shut out in everything except director and Dune will get its wins elsewhere.
Dune (1/10 odds) is the obvious choice, while The Power of the Dog (11/2) is the only real upset chance. The Tragedy of Macbeth (11/1), West Side Story (25/1) and Nightmare Alley (50/1) would be huge upsets.
The American Society of Cinematographers Award is the best predictor for this category, and they awarded it to Dune. The BAFTA Award went to Dune and the Critic’s Choice Award went to The Power of the Dog.
Prediction: I’ll go with the Cinematographers Award and hand this to Dune at low odds.
Best Production Design
The best predictor for this category is the Art Directors Guild Awards which hands out awards for contemporary film and period film. Those awards went to Nightmare Alley (5/2 odds) and Dune (2/7). The BAFTA award went to Dune. West Side Story (14/1), The Power of the Dog (20/1) and The Tragedy of Macbeth (40/1) have little chance.
Prediction: When all is said and done, I expect Dune to win the most Oscars this year as it takes all the smaller categories including this one at low odds.
West Side Story (5/1 odds) was the early favorite to win best sound, but Dune (2/19) has won everything since, including the Cinema Audio Society Award, the Motion Picture Sound Editors Award, the BAFTA Award, the BAFTA award and almost everything else. Forget about No Time to Die (15/1), The Power of the Dog (30/1) and Belfast (25/1).
Prediction: Take the money and run on Dune.
Another category where The Power of the Dog (7/2 odds) was among the early favorites but has lost everything since, including the various music film awards and the BAFTAs. The lucky recipient of its losses has been Dune (1/6), which won most awards, including the BAFTA. Encanto (8/1), Don't Look Up (33/1 odds) and Parallel Mothers (40/1) would be stunners.
Prediction: Take Dune to win another smaller award at low odds.
Best Documentary Feature
Summer of Soul (1/3 odds), a documentary about a 1969 Harlem Soul festival, won most awards, including several critic’s awards, The BAFTA Award and the Producer's Guild Award, while Flee (12/5) mentioned earlier, won the best feature documentary at the IDA Awards. It's hard to see Attica (10/1), Ascension (25/1) or Writing with Fire (33/1) having any real chance.
Prediction: While I'd love to see Flee take this, I think Summer of Soul should win it fairly easily.
Best Visual Effects
Prediction: Dune (1/25 odds) is a sure thing. Let's move on.
Best Costume Design
Cruella (1/6 odds) has won most of the awards, including the Costume Designers Guild Award for excellence in period costume and the BAFTA Award, while Dune (15/4) won the Costume Designers Guild Award for Sci Fi/Fantasy film. West Side Story (12/1) was supposed to be a contender but has failed to win any significant awards and both Nightmare Alley (28/1) and Cyrano (28/1) have little chance.
Prediction: I'm calling for an upset as Dune will get another smaller award in a more heralded film than Cruella.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Cruella (5/1 odds) gets another chance here, as does Dune (11/2), but the clear favorite is The Eyes of Tammy Faye (1/3), which won the BAFTA Award, among others. Coming 2 America (12/1 odds) won the award for best makeup and best hairstyling at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Styling Guild Awards, while House of Gucci (18/1 odds) won nothing.
Prediction: In my biggest upset of the night, I'm betting on Coming 2 America to pull off the shocker at huge odds.
As usual for these films I turn to my friend who is a self-described expert in these things and has a good record. His predictions are The Long Goodbye (4/11 odds) for Live Action Short, Three Songs for Benazir (8/5) for Documentary Short and The Windshield Wiper (5/1) for Animated Short.