The 89th edition of the Oscars takes place on Sunday night, and as ever, the betting action is heating up ahead of the big night. It’s Hollywood’s biggest back-slapping night of the year, but the annual party of self-congratulation has already been in full swing for some time. The yearly slew of ‘for your consideration’ campaigns and build-up award ceremonies are all but over, and it’s time to pick out way through some of the potential winners.
This year, unlike many in recent times, looks to have a ‘writing on the wall’ feel about it with several awards practically sewn-up according to the bookies. The Damien Chazelle directed La La Land is touted to win a host of gongs on Sunday evening, with it’s 14 nominations equalling the record held by All About Eve and Titanic for most nominations for a single film. The Movie could well scoop Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress, and is odds-on across the board to do so. However, there have been shocks in Oscars past, and it’s worth a look at this research which neatly profiles the big winners of the past 20 years, and suggests the most likely winners this year based on historical trends.
Other interesting contenders this season include Moonlight, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Fences, Hidden Figures and Arrival. But perhaps the most competitive section is that of Best Actor, where Casey Affleck has gone from a sure thing to a two-way battle with Denzel Washington.
The latter is +140 to pick up a second Best Actor award for his portrayal of Troy Maxson in the screen adaptation of Fences.
Denzel Washington played the role of Maxson some 114 times at the Cort Theatre in New York, and he has said it required minimal adjustment to bring the character to the big screen. Washington also directed the flick, and having spent so much time in this story, it’s no wonder his performance warranted a nomination. He also won the very informative SAG (Screen Actor’s Guild) award, which shares many members with the Academy Awards.
The film’s central character is a Pittsburgh sanitation worker who dreams of becoming a professional baseball player, but was deemed too old when the major leagues began admitting black players. The bitterness causes family tension when he goes on to prevent his son from meeting with a College football recruiter, and what follows is a heart-warming movie about family, life and love. Essentially it’s a movie that is right up Oscars street, and Washington’s performance has been universally praised.
Casey Affleck looked to have this award on his mantle-piece already after his turn in Manchester by the Sea, but his stock appears to be falling. His portrayal of a Boston Janitor struggling to come to terms with the grief of losing three children in a fire of his own causing was little short of staggering. It’s a truly harrowing movie, and Affleck’s understated ability to convey such raw emotion, displayed his superb talent. This is arguably the best performance of the year, but sexual harassment claims hang over Affleck, and the Oscars has become something of a ‘political’ awards show. Equally, the movie itself – which is borderline depressing – isn’t a natural fit for the celebratory Academy Awards.
There really appears to be no competition to La La Land here. It’s a musical about show business, with a nod to Hollywood past – should anyone be surprised if voters sway towards the film? Not only that, but it has all the credentials to back it up. It has the joint-record number of nominations, has been almost universally acclaimed, and has already picked up awards from the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild, the British Academy Of Film And Television Arts (BAFTA), and the Golden Globes.
No real shock then, that the best price on offer is around the -500 mark, while Director Damien Chazelle is rated no better than -1429 to pick up Best Director.
Emma Stone is also considered a shoo-in for the Best Actress award for her performance in the same film. For some time it had looked like Natalie Portman was going to be favourite here for her portrayal of Jackie Onassis in the film Jackie, and she is still Stone’s closest contender at +700 . The hype never really grew around the film though, and some observers have blamed Portman’s absence from the Oscars circuit. That seems ridiculously harsh, since the Black Swan star is pregnant, but one supposes Hollywood doesn’t make such allowances.
Emma Stone is a best price of -588 , but it’s hard to look elsewhere.
Best Supporting Actor & Actress
Two more categories where we have a hot favourite are in the supporting roles. Viola Davis is considered the biggest shoo-in of the season for her brilliant performance alongside Denzel Washington in Fences, the female star listed at a best price of -1667 .
Meanwhile, the film Moonlight may receive some very due attention in the Best Supporting Actor category, with Mahershala Ali around -500 to pick op the gong.
If you’re looking for Oscars long shots, my colleague has pointed out a hefty price, but it’s hard to put anyone off backing an accumulator of the above hot favourites, which pays a reasonable -139 with Ladbrokes.
Denzel Washington to win Best Actor
Sunday 26th February
Best Picture – La La Land
Best Director – Damien Chazelle
Best Actress – Emma Stone
Best Supporting Actor – Mahershala Ali
Best Supporting Actress – Viola Davis
Sunday 26th February