With the Super Bowl now behind us attention turns to the entertainment awards with special emphasis on the Grammy Awards and the Oscars. The Grammy Awards will be handed out next week while the Academy Awards will air on February 22nd, however, this may be the opportune time to get in on Oscars betting since odds drop dramatically as the telecast gets closer and insiders start gaining information. With that in mind let's look at betting for all the major categories for both awards shows.
Grammy Awards – Best New Artist
Best New Artist is one of those categories where longshots often come in. The oddsmakers generally focus on one new artist who inevitably isn't very liked by the voters and loses. Examples are Justin Bieber, The Jonas Brothers and Joss Stone who all lost as large favorites. This year, however, that is highly unlikely to happen. Sam Smith has been winning music awards all year, particularly due to his song 'Stay with Me' and unlike in other years none of the other Best New Artist nominees have had much success. Bastille had one semi hit album but none of the songs were truly memorable while country singer Brandy Clark hasn't had any hits at all. Her song 'Get High' is likely her biggest hit but other than on the occasional country station is rarely played. The other 2 nominees are clearly also rans. For that reason Sam Smith will win and should win but at odds of 1/6 or lower . Unfortunately at those odds many will deem him unbettable.
Grammy Awards – Album of the Year
Sam Smith is nominated in all the major categories this year including Album of the Year for 'In the Lonely Hour'. Smith opened as the favorite but is now a slight longshot at odds of 7/4 to Beyonce's self-titled album which was written after the birth of her child. The other 3 albums by Ed Sheehan, Beck and Pharrell Williams are longshots. Album of the Year is the one category where the voters tend to give the award to both current and past success. For example Bob Dylan, Santana, Ray Charles and Robert Plant all won the award despite consensus that it wasn't their best work. With that in mind, Sam Smith is at a disadvantage in this category. While newcomers have won the award in the past it is extremely rare and usually only when there are no long standing nominees. Ed Sheehan is in the same boat as Smith being only 22 years of age and Pharrell Williams' album just wasn't that good. The song "Happy" which many believe should have won the best original song at the Oscars was the one standout song that Williams has had. That leaves it to Beyonce and Beck. Beck Hanson has been around since the 1980s and rose to prominence in the 1990s. His album 'Sea Change' had some success and his only real single hit was 'Loser' even though that song wasn't all that popular. More importantly his current album 'Morning Phase' was released to mixed reviews and it didn't come close to the sales that Beyonce and Smith's albums did. That leaves Beyonce as the clear favorite. Beyonce lost in 2010 for 'I am Sasha Fierce' and she's actually won 17 Grammy Awards in other categories over the years. As well Jay-Z is featured on her album and he is both a Grammy Academy and general fan favorite. At 7/5 odds Beyonce to win Album of the year is probably the best bet at this year's Grammys.
Grammy Awards – Record of the Year
This is a category that awards the producer and artist of a single song. I've been told by people with knowledge of the industry that the music video associated with the song has some influence in this category as well. Sam Smith again is favored in this category for his song 'Stay with Me', but Smith has come under a lot of controversy after it was noted the song was similar to Tom Petty's hit 'Don't Back Down' and as a result he agreed to pay Petty and Jeff Lynne royalties from the song. Smith denied that he even heard the song prior to releasing 'Stay with Me' but his producers decided it was better to just pay the royalty and credit Petty and Lynne as song writers rather than fighting it in a lengthy court battle. While it was settled amicably it doesn't change the fact that some voters may turn away from music that did borrow some melodies from an old song. Smith is the 4/5 favorite followed by Sia for her song 'Chandelier' at 7/2, Iggy Azalea with her song 'Fancy' at 4/1, Taylor Swift for 'Shake it Off' at 4/1 and Meghan Trainor for 'All About That Bass' at 12/1. How the annoying rap song 'Fancy' is nominated is mind boggling, although it has gotten a lot of play lately and 'Chandelier' just isn't the type of song that generally wins Grammys, although it was popular in the early part of 2014. 'All About That Bass' was extremely popular throughout 2014 and was a favorite for months, but the song probably just isn't clever enough either musically or lyrically to win the category. The song that opened as a big longshot but has been getting movement of late is Taylor Swift's 'Shake it Off'. There's no question the song has a great beat and it was played ad infinitum on radio stations and no doubt iPods all year. The song also got quite a bit of recent attention after a YouTube video of a police officer lip synching the song while on patrol has been on every newscast. What needs to be remembered is that this category rewards the artists and producer and not the song and Swift is a favorite of Grammy voters and a past winner. She is respected as both a singer and song writer and at 4/1 odds the record deserves a bet. TheGreek.com actually has the record at 7/4 to win the category which is more indication that it could be a serious contender. At 4/1 odds it could prove to be a good payday.
Grammy Awards – Song of the Year
Unlike record of the year this category rewards the best song. 'Stay with Me' is the 7/10 favorite followed by 'Take Me to the Church' at 3/1, 'Chandelier' at 4/1, 'Shake it Off' at 8/1 and 'All About That Bass' at 12/1. The one difference between song and record is that 'Fancy' isn't nominated here but 'Take me to the Church' by Hozier is. While the song is catchy it is too slow and the lyrics too controversial to win song of the year. The logical bet here is either on 'Stay with Me' as the big favorite odds or possibly 'Shake it Off' at 8/1. For the same reasons I figure it can win record of the year is the reason it can win song of the year. It was popular early, popular late in the year and is a mainstay at every dance in the nation. Add to that Taylor Swift's popularity and the song seems worth a bet at big odds.
Bet the 57th Grammy Awards at Bovada, where they are offering addtional prop bets on Sam Smith!
Academy Awards betting – Best Picture
The Oscars are a bit more predictable but two categories are indeed in play. Julianne Moore will win best actress, JK Simmons will win Supporting Actor and Patricia Arquette will win Supporting Actress. Director should go to Richard Linkletter for 'Boyhood' but that will be locked up if and when he wins the DGA Award next week.
That leaves Best Picture and Best Actor up for grabs. Ironically until about 2 weeks ago the Best Picture category seemed like a foregone conclusion too but that changed when the SAG and PGA awards were announced. 'Boyhood' looked like a lock after it won all the major awards but last week the Screen Actors Guild Awards gave best ensemble cast to 'Birdman' and the Producer's Guild of America Award gave best picture to 'Birdman'. Almost immediately 'Boyhood' went from around 1/8 odds in most online sportsbooks to around 4/5 odds while 'Birdman' dropped from as high as 10/1 to just over even money. Many sources are quick to point out that the PGA award winner has won the Oscar every year since 2006. Ironically the award failed to predict the winner from 2004 to 2006. But from all accounts both the SAG Awards and PGA Awards were a virtual dead heat between the two films and about 22% of voters are actors, i.e. those who vote for the SAG Awards, while producers make up far less of the Academy voters than that. So, over 2/3 of the voters in the Oscars didn't vote in either the SAG or PGA Awards. And let's look at the major awards each film has won prior to last week.
Of the prestigious critic awards, 'Boyhood' won Boston, Chicago, New York, London, L.A., San Francisco and Toronto as well as several smaller ones. 'Birdman' won none. It did win 3 smaller critic's awards but none of the major ones. Moreover 'Boyhood' was voted as the best film by 23 of 39 major critics while 'Birdman' was voted first place by 2. 'Boyhood' also won the major Golden Globes Award (drama) for best picture while 'Birdman' lost to 'Grand Budapest Hotel' in the minor best picture award (Music or Comedy). So when examining everything it's hard to see how 'Birdman' all of a sudden is a serious contender. I have no doubt that after Linklater wins the DGA Award next week Boyhood's odds will plummet and by February 22nd 'Boyhood' will be far closer to the 1/8 odds it was earlier this year than the 2/3 odds or thereabouts it stands now. The oddsmakers over reacted to the SAG and PGA Award results. Boyhood at the current odds is the best bet at this year's Oscars.
Academy Awards – Best Actor
Once again this is a two horse race between Eddie Redmayne in the 'Theory of Everything' and Michael Keaton in 'Birdman'. This was always expected to be a close race although Keaton was a fair size favorite until the SAG Awards. Both actors won the Golden Globe award although Keaton had won far more critic's awards heading into the Golden Globes. In fact other than in New York, Redmayne didn't win a single critic's award. It also can't be overlooked that Keaton at 63 years old is likely to get more of the "lifetime achievement" type vote from some of the older Academy members and up until this film Redmayne was most known as a Broadway actor.
That said there's one fact that can't be overlooked. The SAG Award winner for the acting categories has been a spot on predictor for the Academy Awards. In fact the last 10 SAG Award winners for Best Actor went on to win the Academy Award although the 5 SAG Award winners prior to that failed to win the Oscar.
So the question is whether this will be one of those anomaly years where both the PGA Award fails to predict the best picture and the SAG fails to pick the best actor. My hunch is yes. There are enough voters outside of the 22% of actors who make up the Academy voters who I'm confident will choose to give the award to the more established Michael Keaton. Plus one has to recall that Keaton was around a 1/3 favorite to win the category prior to the SAG Awards. Moreover if the unofficial voting count at the SAGs can be believed Redmayne didn't win by much so even of those 22% of voters a large percentage will still vote for Keaton. This will be a close call but at the current 5/2 odds available in some places on Keaton it's hard to turn down the great value.