Sometimes odds on can be over the odds

 
birdman

This column (Rags to Riches) has highlighted several big-priced winners since the turn of the year (including +1000  here, and more recently +475  here) and one is going to argue that odds of -137  represent a big price about one of the Academy Awards favourites based on a well established entertainment trend.

Best Directing is one of the marquee Academy Awards prizes – contrary to popular reporting, it is not Best Director – and this year, as usual, there are five nominees: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance); Boyhood; Foxcatcher; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitiation Game. Fellow Academy Awards nerds will note that the nominees are the pictures rather than the directors but less about that and more about the trend that is usually worth following.

The Directors Guild of America hands out its Outstanding Directional Achievement in Feature Film prize not long before the Academy Awards. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu received the DGA Outstanding Directional Achievement in Feature Film gong less than two weeks ago for his work helming Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

Why should Academy Awards punters care about the destiny of DGA Outstanding Directional Achievement in Feature Film? It is because the DGA honour has almost a perfect record when it comes to predicting the winner of the Academy Award for Best Directing since the former’s inception in 1948.

On only seven occasions has the DGA Outstanding Directional Achievement in Feature Film winner not gone on to collect the Academy Award for Best Directing in the same year. So, in chronological order, the DGA Outstanding Directional Achievement in Feature Film winners who missed out on the Academy Award for Best Directing were: Anthony Harvey for The Lion In Winter (1968); Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather (1972); Steven Spielberg for The Color Purple (1985); Ron Howard for Apollo 13 (1995); Ang Lee for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000); Rob Marshall for Chicago (2002); Ben Affleck for Argo (2012).

It is worth exploring those seven helmers and their Academy Award for Best Directing snubs because some of them were a bit strange to say the least. The Godfather is rated as one of the greatest films of all time yet Coppola missed out on the Academy Award for Best Directing to Bob Fosse, whose Cabaret won eight Oscars but neither Best Picture nor Best Adapted Screenplay. Spielberg was not even nominated for the Academy Award for Best Directing, with Sydney Pollack taking out the prize for Out Of Africa. Marshall missed out on the Academy Award for Best Directing to The Pianist’s Roman Polanski, a figure whom many bodies had refused to honour. And like Spielberg, Affleck did not receive an Academy Award for Best Directing nomination in what was a major shock.

So one could argue that four of the seven DGA Outstanding Directional Achievement in Feature Film winners were pretty unlucky not to earn Academy Award for Best Directing honours in the same year. One does not see any reason to expect that Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)’s Inarritu, who is celebrating the second Academy Award for Best Directing nomination of his career, will be rolled as favourite. Indeed, one thinks that odds of -137  with PaddyPower is well over the top because the trend points to true odds of around -1000 .

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