The 88th Academy Awards ceremony doesn’t take place until February 28, 2016, but more than eight months out oddsmakers have already offered their thoughts on the early favorites.
Typically film studios won’t release their top films until late in the calendar year so the film will be fresh in the heads of both critics and voters. Past Best Picture winners like Birdman (October 17, 2014), 12 Years a Slave (November 8, 2013), Argo (October 12, 2012) and The Artist (October 12, 2011) were all released within the last three months of the year. While this gives moviegoers much to look forward to, it makes betting on the Academy Awards more complicated than the plot of any David Lynch film.
The popular UK sportsbook Paddy Power has already posted Best Picture and, of the 22 films listed, only one (Pixar’s Inside Out) has been released at this point. That means that bettors would rely solely on word of mouth from critics who attended film festivals like Cannes or Sundance.
There are certainly formulas which have proven to be successful for Best Picture winners as well as Best Actor and Actress. For example, women who explore their sexuality and toy with gender stereotypes frequently win the Best Actress award i.e. Hillary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry and Charlize Theron in Monster. The Best Actor award is typically awarded to anti-heroes and good men attempting to live in an increasingly cruel world i.e. Denzel Washington in Training Day and Daniel Day Lewis in There Will be Blood.
The Best Picture Award is almost always given to a story involving perseverance and emancipation. This may be literal (in the case of The Shawshank Redemption, Argo and 12 Years a Slave) or figurative (like The King’s Speech or Birdman).
The tables below display the current odds for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress at Paddy Power:
|11/27/15||The Danish Girl||+550|
|10/16/15||Bridge of Spies||+700|
|12/25/15||The Hateful Eight||+1400|
|7/31/15||The End of the Tour||+3300|
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s (Birdman) film The Revenant is the early favorite for Best Picture. Based in the life of frontiersman Hugh Glass, the story focuses on a man who is left to die by his friends and decides to get revenge on those who wronged him. While this seems to feature the type of perseverance we look for, revenge stories often alienate and divide audiences who prefer something more hopeful.
One movie fitting that description is the upcoming film Suffragette, which tells the story of the British women’s suffrage movement in the early 1900’s. Featuring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep, the tale of women fighting for the right to vote shows the type of liberation that voters love in their Best Picture winners.
|Meryl Streep||Ricki and the Flash||+1100|
|Alicia Vikander||The Danish Girl||+1800|
|Viola Davis||Lila & Eve||+1800|
|Charlotte Rampling||45 Years||+2000|
|Charlize Theron||Mad Max: Fury Road||+3300|
Alicia Vikander, who was outstanding earlier this year in Ex Machina, looks like an excellent long shot bet for the Best Actress Award. In The Danish Girl, she portrays an artist who asks her husband to stand in for a female model. As the popularity of her portraits increases, her husband (played by 2015 Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne) realizes he prefers being represented as a woman, and becomes the first man to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
It’s a socially relevant story — especially in light of Caitlyn Jenner’s transition — in which Vikander deals with the realization that her husband is not the same person she married. This formula makes Vikander a near lock for a Best Actress nomination.
Other potential values include: Marian Cotillard for Macbeth (+1400) and Carey Mulligan for Suffragette (+550).
|Eddie Redmayne||The Danish Girl||+275|
|Leonardo DiCaprio||The Revenant||+400|
|Michael Fassbender||Steve Jobs||+550|
|Johnny Depp||Black Mass||+1100|
|Tom Hank||Bridge of Spies||+1100|
|Tom Hiddleston||I Saw the Light||+1200|
|Ian McKellen||Mr. Holmes||+1400|
|Tom Courtenay||45 Years||+1800|
|Matt Damon||The Martian||+1800|
|Jason Segel||The End of the Tour||+2000|
|Don Cheadle||Miles Ahead||+2500|
|Bradley Cooper||Adam Jones||+3300|
The field for Best Actor as the 2016 Academy Awards is fascinating for a number of reasons. After winning the award last year for his portrayal of Stephen Hawkins, Eddie Redmayne (+275) is expected to become the fifth actor to ever win back-to-back Oscars (joining Jason Robards, Luise Rainer, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn).
Could this finally be the year for Leonardo DiCaprio? The prolific actor has been dominated for five Academy Awards, but is still looking for his first win. He’s currently listed with the second shortest odds to win at +400. Other interesting storylines include Michael Fassbender and Jake Gyllenhall who have two performances listed amongst for this prop bet.
If you’re looking for a potential value bet, Johnny Depp (+1100) is certainly intriguing. If you haven’t seen the trailer for Black Mass yet, I’ll give you a moment. Depp has the type of chilling gaze and haunting demeanor that reminds us why he was considered one of the best working actors before a string of subpar blockbusters.
The story revolves around Boston mobster White Bulger — a man who was listed as the FBI’s second most wanted man for over a decade. Bulger was not only the brother of Massachusetts State Senator Billy Bulger, but also a key informant for the FBI for roughly twenty years. It’s the type of anti-hero that Academy Award voters love to hate.
Other potential values based on some of our aforementioned historical trends include Michael Fassbender in Macbeth (+1400) and Jason Segel in The End of the Tour (+3300).
Have you seen any of these films on the festival circuit? Are there any you’re excited to see? Do any think any films offer value to bettors? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
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David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@sportsinsights.com.