Betting on the Oscars: Longshots, underdogs and chalk at the 2019 Academy Awards

Sunday, 24 February 2019 18:14 EST

Ah, the Academy Awards: The Super Bowl of Hollywood (and sometimes other) movies! Sadly, however, betting on the Oscars isn’t nearly as accessible or available as odds on your typical sporting events, but online sportsbooks are offering lines in all the major categories at least.

First fact about the 2019 Oscars: It’s a weaker field that last year’s by far: The Shape of Water, Get Out and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing would all have beaten the 2019 lot and, while Wonder Woman was nearly completely shafted of nomination in ’18, Black Panther doesn’t seem too far out of place among this year’s lot.

The other sad fact about Academy Awards in general is that, in reality, few upsets happen. Yes, you do get the occasional Roberto Benigni but even upsets like Moonlight over La La Land aren’t as huge as we remember: After all, Moonlight was a mere 2/1 underdog.

The 2019 Academy Awards should be no different than usual, and the smart (but not big) money is all o the chalk: Covering Roma (at -225 to win the Best Picture award); Alfonso Cuaron (-400, Best Director, Roma); Rami Malek (-800, Best Actor, Bohemian Rhapsody); Glenn Close (-800, Best Actoress, The Wife); Mahershala Ali (Best Supporting Actor, Green Book); BlacKKKlansman (-400, Best Adapated Screenplay); and The Favourite (-225, Best Original Screenplay) pays +480. That’s quite a sensible bet if you can get it, in NFLbets’ estimation, but what if Oscar indeed throws a curve?

For hedgers on betting the 2019 Oscars, NFLbets has three. Note that we’re not necessarily recommending these bets (we’re a tad far afield, so to speak, from our preferred NFL betting) as “Picks of the Week” or anything like that, but rather putting forth some good value bets “for your consideration,” as they say.

• Olivia Coleman, +450, Best Actress, The Favourite. The thinking here is that Gleen Close has gone 0-for-5 winning on nominations and thus the tide is turning. Well, NFLbets says, “What if there’s a reason Close has gotten the goose egg in all the years since her first for the brutal and stupid Fatal Attraction (1987). One might be tempted to cover Lady Gaga at +2000, but Hollywood tends not to be especially bestowing upon singers in a musical role in their debut performance – at least since Barbara Streisand (for Funny Girl in 1969).

So we’re willing to throw a few Moneys on Coleman here, and why not? Oscar does love a British actress (or an American actress in a British part) and Coleman’s performance is incredible. Additionally, a win would made for a nice frisson of schadenfreude if Close loses number six.

• Yorgos Lanthimos, +275, Best Director, The Favorite
• Spike Lee, +1600, Best Director, BlacKKKlansman
. Cuaron is a darling of the Hollywood award set, having taken one directorial prize already for Gravity (2013) and twice received screenwriting noms for Y To Mama Tambien (1999) and Children of Men (1996). Second-favorite in this category is Lanthimos, whose lavish direction of The Favourite has gotten international acclaim from all questers – and Lanthimos too has gotten prior nominations, for Best Foreign-Language Film (Dogtooth in 2009) and Best Original Screenplay (The Lobster in 2015).

But the best value in this category is clearly the 16/1 on Spike Lee. Some Oscars go to the winners as a sort of lifetime achievement award: Paul Newman, Al Pacino and quite possibly Close this year are just a tiny sliver of readily available examples of the concept for actors – and even all-time master director Ingmar Bergman got once such nod (for Fanny and Alexander, 1983). Spike winning on his first nomination on the 25th anniversary of Do the Right Thing? Seems like these odds should be well shorter…

• Green Book, +250, Best Film. As Mickey Mouse as this Disnified take on racism in America is, it’s also the sole nomination in this category other than Roma getting better than 16/1 odds. What’s the case for Green Book? Likeable characters, acting nominations, a screenplay nomination – and the fact that no movie has ever won both the Best Foreign-Language Film and Best Film in the same year. Might the voters simply decide that maybe choosing Roma in one category is enough recognition? Green Book winning 25 years after Driving Miss Daisy did so inexplicably? Seems like these odds should be well shorter, too.