EDIT: The betting lines in this post are from 12:00PM EST on Wednesday, February 20th and are subject to change.
The Oscars are coming. The Super Bowl for movie buffs. Why just watch the Oscars like a regular, lame human being, when you could place some bets and win money on the award show using your bookie or the FanDuel Sportsbook?
Betting on the biggest award show of the year is not like betting on anything else. I’d venture to say that betting on the show is not like betting on literally anything else in existence. Imagine only being able to bet on the 1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, 3 vs. 14 and 4 vs. 13 games in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Riding the favorites is easy, but the payout is minimal and worthless. Picking the underdogs sets you up for a gigantic payday, but the odds of winning are, for the most part, terrible. Obviously, the key to making gambling on the Oscars work in your favor is identifying the best value picks, the nominees with the best chance at pulling the upset.
DISCLAIMER: This isn’t like Barstool Sports Advisers where Dave and Big Cat are giving people multiple locks and winners in one night. Betting on this show is a shot in the dark and the goal is to essentially just hit on one longshot pick. Gamble at your own risk, but I am confident we are going to win some money!
Using a combination of expert predictions, a fantastic analytical model from Walt Hickey of numlock.news, and my own gut feelings, I am here today to give you the best advice for what nominees to throw your money at for the 91st Annual Academy Awards. How good the payout is for a nominee’s odds relative to the risk and chances of victory is how I determine the value of each potential bet.
This blog is also sponsored by FanDuel, which is an incredibly clean and easy way to use site and app to place bets on an online sportsbook as well as play daily fantasy. For everyone looking to cash in a bet on Hollywood’s biggest night, make sure to use FanDuel. You can sign-up for FanDuel online or in the app for a $500 risk-free bet at fanduel.com/stool (must not have previously placed any wager using your FanDuel Sportsbook account).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
The biggest night in Hollywood usually begins with the supporting actor and actress categories, so this is where we begin. You won’t find too much value in this category, with Mahershala Ali (‘Green Book’) considered the heavy favorite…
Wins at all of the major award shows have helped give the 2016 Best Supporting Actor winner a poor payout potential with low -1200 odds. I wouldn’t suggest tossing too much money in this category, but Richard E. Grant (‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’) still has an outside shot with intriguing +1000 odds. The race was close leading into the award season but did take a bit of a hit when Grant didn’t win at the BAFTAs. The supporting actor category is prone to upsets now and then, so you truly never know, and a small bet is a good low-risk-high-reward if you want to take a chance on a longshot.
The analytics over at numlock give Ali the strong edge, while 84.3% of experts on Gold Derby have also taken the ‘Green Book’ actor.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Now, this right here is a pretty crazy race with outstanding value.
Rachel Weisz (‘The Favourite’) took home a mega win at the BAFTAs and is considered the favorite over Regina King (‘If Beale Street Could Talk’) according to Walter Hickey’s model at numlock. With favorable +650 odds, Weisz is one of my Top 3 value picks of the night and I think anyone betting should hammer those odds as soon as possible.
Even siding with Amy Adams (‘Vice’) isn’t the worst idea with +500 odds in the category. This is Adams’ sixth nomination at the award show and has yet to take home the top prize. She actually has more acting award losses than Leonardo DiCaprio did leading into his win for ‘The Revenant’. I’m not saying they “owe her” the win, but those types of things tend to sway my opinion when it comes to predicting and gambling on the show.
The Gold Derby experts go against numlock’s analytics, with 90.6% of the experts giving the win to King and none of them giving the nod to Weisz. Regardless, a combination of the numbers and my gut feeling says go big or go home with this category.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Okay, this is “serious gambling” territory, but a tricky category to bet on this year.
On one hand, ‘First Man’ is really calling my name. The people voting for the awards seem to, usually, love things that Damien Chazelle has a hand in, and this is the only award the movie has a chance to take home. On the other hand, the group putting on the show really wants people to like them and awarding one of the biggest movies of all-time in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ would be well-received.
I’m on the fence with this category, but the value is pretty decent. The odds aren’t all that bad for ‘First Man’ at +340 and 25.8% of the experts at Gold Derby picked the movie to upset the Marvel Cinematic Universe darling. ‘Ready Player One’ is something to take a look at as well, given that Steven Spielberg is involved.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
This is a category stacked with value, albeit the middle of the road value.
A big key for me is finding spots where ‘Black Panther’ can nab a victory on Sunday. I would be stunned if the movie didn’t walk home with an award (please, for the love of all things movies, save your comments about ‘Black Panther’ for another time). There is a ton of upset potential for the Marvel film over ‘The Favourite’ and it is one of higher odds options, at +175, that borders on the “safe” pick side of things.
If you’re trying to make some good money, though, you might want to look elsewhere. The odds make a crazy jump to +2200 for the eye-popping Disney movie in ‘Mary Poppins Returns’, which is good value. While the odds increase to +2800 for ‘Mary Queen of Scots’, my favorite value of the bunch. A period piece, like ‘The Favourite’ (granted, a worse movie), ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ had a lavish enough look that those odds are worth tossing a couple of bucks down on, in my opinion. The costume and makeup & hairstyle categories are always toss-ups for me and they can be somewhat unpredictable (IE: ‘Suicide Squad’ winning in 2016).
The experts at Gold Derby are split on this category, with 59.3% picking ‘Black Panther’ and the other 40.7% going for ‘The Favourite’.
This category has quietly gotten closer and closer to the top over the last week.
If you’re feeling crazy, ‘Cold War’ at +850 isn’t that bad of a pick. The gap between ‘Cold War’ and heavy-favorite ‘Roma’ has shrunk significantly as we get closer to showtime. Will the Netflix stigma hurt the movie? Maybe, and if it does, the impact might be seen across the board for ‘Roma’.
I’d still suggest leaving this category alone because Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Roma’ has been hyped for its incredible visuals since release. As of right now, 96.8% of Gold Derby experts have predicted ‘Roma’ the winner, and I can promise you that my gut feeling not only agrees with them but also won’t be wrong.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
This a simple category to breakdown because only two options exist.
Once again, my only hesitation is based around finding the category where ‘Black Panther’ receives an award. Either bet on “All the Stars” (‘Black Panther’) at +1000 or don’t touch this category at all. With an irrelevant payout, betting on Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” (‘A Star Is Born’) makes no sense at -2000 odds.
Not giving Lady Gaga the win after her upcoming performance with Bradley Cooper would be insanity. Then again, she had a powerful performance at the 2015 awards with survivors of sexual abuse on stage… only to lose to that garbage Sam Smith James Bond song moments later.
One person on Gold Derby picked “All the Stars” with the rest taking “Shallow” as their winner. In terms of gambling odds, this is the biggest “lock” of the night according to the FanDuel Sportsbook.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Would you look at that, we finally have a category where I would give “okay value” to the nominee considered the favorite.
The score for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ is amazing, and I share that opinion with many people. The dollar store version of this award show, the Golden Globes, didn’t even nominate the movie for best score, so there could be some redemption on Sunday night and a chance to cash in on -170 odds.
But, wait, hang on, do you hear that? ***BLACK PANTHER ALERT*** Ah, yes, another category to keep an eye on for that ‘Black Panther’ win I am guaranteeing. The soundtrack was one of the best parts of the movie, with the score not far behind in terms of quality. With odds of +240, this is one of the best values of the night. When it comes to value worth looking at, another Disney property to keep an eye on here is ‘Mary Poppins Returns’. With +500 odds, the sequel to the 1964 classic might win solely due to the nostalgia factor and the fact that the movie is heavily infused with music.
On Gold Derby 68.7% of the experts are predicting ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ as the winner, with 28.1% going to way of ‘Black Panther’.
BEST ANIMATED PICTURE
Consider this category “interesting” because of one thing and one thing only: Pixar.
So far, ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ has taken home all of the big animated picture awards and is a near-lock to win this year’s top prize. There is a group of people (myself included) that believe this movie should have received a Best Picture nomination as well.
Regardless, the one hurdle Spider-Man must clear is taking down a Pixar movie in ‘Incredibles 2’. Boasting +1600 odds, the Pixar sequel doesn’t even have the second-best odds, but it is a part of a family of movies that have had a knack for winning this category. With the Disney Animation movie ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ out of contention, ‘Incredibles 2’ is the one shot that could continue the trend. Will it happen? The chances are almost at a big fat zero, but if you’re going to bet on anything in this category, go with the people in the super suits.
Gold Derby agrees, with all experts picking ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ for the win.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
We now head into the big awards and both screenplay categories are fairly close this year. The Best Original Screenplay award is hotly contested with four out of five nominees having a real chance at winning.
‘The Favourite’ is the favorite (ha) with -210 odds and isn’t worth much of a look since the payout is small and it’s far from a lock. ‘Green Book’ has been hit with controversy, so I have stayed away from the movie a bit, but I still think it has a solid shot at taking home some hardware, with decent +190 odds. Screenplay seems like a good spot to honor a movie still liked by critics. Betting on ‘Roma’, with fantastic +750 odds, would be a great play here if you are of the belief that it will dominate the show on Sunday. A big night for the Netflix movie will mean that it probably takes home this award. Lastly, ‘First Reformed’ was largely ignored in the nomination process, but a movie that received high critical marks. At +1100, it’s a great nominee to take a small-risk high-reward chance on.
Funny enough, none of these nominees won at the Writers Guild Awards this past weekend. Bo Burnham’s ‘Eighth Grade’, a huge snub, won, giving us no great indication for a prediction in this category. ‘The Favourite’ is the pick of 69.6% of Gold Derby experts, but ‘Green Book’, ‘Roma’ and ‘First Reformed’ have all gotten some love.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
There is a heavier favorite in this category with ‘BlacKkKlansman’, holding odds that I would avoid at -370, but the category is wide open following the Writers Guild Awards.
While Spike Lee and his co-writers are the favorites (I really think event holders would like to give him his first ever win this year), ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ is my gut prediction following its Writers Guild Awards victory. The odds have gotten lower since the win and I think the now is the time to hammer the favorable +470 line. Two other nominees, ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ at +500 odds and ‘A Star Is Born’ at +2200 odds, have a ton of “I owe you” potential on Sunday. ‘Beale Street’ was snubbed of a Best Picture nominee, while Bradley Cooper was omitted from the Best Director category. These are riskier picks with the ‘BlacKkKlansman’ and ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ separating themselves, but I would make sure to bet on something in this category.
Right now, 93.7% of Gold Derby experts have gone with ‘BlacKkKlansman’, but I expect more people to put their name along ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ this week. Since 2010, six out of nine Writers Guild Awards winners in the Best Adapted Screenplay category have gone on to win during Hollywood’s biggest night.
This is a two-horse race only propped up if you think they’re going to finally honor Spike Lee.
Alfonso Cuarón is the second biggest favorite of the night with DO NOT TOUCH -1350 odds unless you really want the extra 74 cents. The craziest potential Oscars statistic: this would be Cuarón’s second win in the category in the last six years and the fifth Mexican-born director to take home the statue. He is the heavy, heavy favorite according to Walter Hickey’s model over at numlock, racking up wins at the DGAs, BAFTAs, Golden Globes and various critical awards.
I am surprised Spike Lee’s odds aren’t a little higher than +1000, but he is worth the bet with great value in my opinion solely based on the notion that he might finally break through. It’s a great chance at another low-risk high-reward bet, even considering Cuarón is a virtual lock at this point.
There are some believers in Spike Lee at Gold Derby with 87.8% of the experts going for Cuarón but a few riding the train of the ‘BlacKkKlansman’ director instead.
While I’d prefer ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ not win any awards, there’s no doubting that Rami Malek was good enough to deserve the win for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury. The model over at numlock has referred to Malek as a “virtual lock” and his point total is far ahead of the second-place Christian Bale. The Best Actor category was supposed to be a lot closer, but there is still some decent value.
The one feather in the cap of Christian Bale is that he beat Malek out of the top spot at the Critics’ Choice Awards. He also won at the Golden Globes, but that show typically has little-to-no indication for the big-league award show this Sunday. I’d consider it “good value” to go with Bale, who was incredible in his role as Dick Cheney in ‘Vice’. It would be a surprise to see him, but not a shock, so +430 odds are somewhat favorable.
My favorite bet here, with what I’d consider “great value,” is Bradley Cooper with amazing +2300 odds. This would be, hands down, the biggest “I owe you” win of the night. It’s certainly a longshot, ‘A Star Is Born’ was well received by all and his snub in the Best Director category might lead to people going for Cooper. I already laid money down on the actor-writer-director of ‘A Star Is Born’ and I’d rank in my Top 5 to 10 best values of the night.
A few experts at Gold Derby have taken Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper, but the majority of them, 90.9% to be exact, have stuck with Rami Malek.
I really love this category, folks. Glenn Close is the favorite as she carries the very strong BAFTAs win indicator. It isn’t as close to lock status for Close as it is for Malek with Best Actor, but she is the clear favorite. With that said, my mind is elsewhere when it comes to betting on the Best Actress category…
I’m all about momentum and Olivia Colman’s win at the BAFTAs really boosts her win potential and makes her one of the Top 3 value picks for Sunday night. My confidence is high, and I heavily suggest hammering the shit out of her +440 odds. Everyone seems to love ‘The Favourite’, and this seems like a great spot for the movie to grab a win. Quietly, as evidenced by my Best Actress analysis, I think ‘The Favourite’ is set up for a potentially big night.
Is it worth showing Lady Gaga some love with attractive +1500 odds? It is tough to say because she hasn’t racked up any big wins during the award season. But the performance of “Shallow” and hype around the moment might sway people into thinking she could pull the massive upset. This is “good value” in my eyes and worth a nice low-risk high-reward bet if you’re feeling crazy.
While all but one of the Gold Derby experts has gone with Glenn Close, the numlock model and analytics suggest the race is bit tighter. Close has been burned at this award show before, so, as the model and breakdown suggest, Colman still has a shot here. I can’t stress enough that the value for ‘The Favourite’ actress is well worth the bet.
Here we go! The big one. There is certainly a favorite in the Best Picture category with ‘Roma’ with -310 odds, but a messy awards season has left it wide open.
Before I get into who to bet on, you need to understand how the voting works for this category. It is not just about picking one movie; the voters actually rank the movies. The system to determine the winner after everyone ranks the nominees is complex, confusing and means that the movie most considered to be the “best” might not always win. This video gives a great breakdown of the process…
I will come right out and say it: the best value, hands down, is ‘Black Panther’ with +3100 odds. Walter Hickey’s best analysis this awards season was a deep dive into how the new, expanding voting pool has the votes to make something like ‘Black Panther’ the winner. While he has to adjust the model a bit, the possibility of ‘Black Panther’ being at the top of many ballots is pretty high in my opinion. It’s been talked about in an overly-positive light ever since its release one year ago this month and carries great cultural significance and impact. It might have the fifth-best odds on FanDuel, but it is the third most likely winner in the numlock model. My biggest bet for Sunday is on ‘Black Panther’ and the nominee rounds out my list of Top 3 values when betting on the show (the full list will be below).
Another movie with “great value” has to be ‘BlacKkKlansman’ with +2800 odds. I’ve mentioned it a few times, but I have a hunch the voters want to give Spike Lee his win for this award show. Like ‘Black Panther’, this is an impactful movie and Hollywood eats that up. We had actor and voter Aldis Hodge on Lights, Camera, Barstool for an interview and he stressed the importance of ‘Black Panther’ and movies that make a statement and impact. ‘BlacKkKlansman’ lines up well with that sentiment.
If ‘The Favourite’ wins a few awards, including something in the acting categories, I think its odds of stealing Best Picture become greater. Since that is a scenario that I’ve already said is possible, the +1600 odds might be worth the bet in what is a “good value” for bettors. The ‘A Star Is Born’ theory I have about it grabbing an award somewhere seems like a longshot to fit this category, but it’s hard to not throw down a few bucks on +5000 odds. While ‘Argo’ was a favorite when it won Best Picture at the 2012 show, it was viewed as redemption for Ben Affleck, who was snubbed for a Best Director nomination. There are a few similarities there with Bradley Cooper’s storyline at this award show.
Normally a nominee like ‘Green Book’ would hold better value in my eyes as the second most likely winner and +340 odds, but I can’t look past the fact the voters will want to avoid awarding a group of producers and movie that has been surrounded by controversy. The same can be said about ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (a movie I really can’t stand in terms of its association with the best movies of 2018), but its +3400 odds aren’t anything to scoff at, even though I think it firmly has a close to zero shot at winning. Still, if your opinions are different, there is a decent enough payout potential to give these two movies a look.
Don’t bet on ‘Vice’.
The Walter Hickey model on numlock gives ‘Roma’ a solid edge on ‘Green Book’, with ‘Black Panther’ a little further behind. His simulation also backs up the thought that ‘Roma’ and ‘Green Book’ are separated from ‘Black Panther’ and others in the Best Picture category. The three movies picked by Gold Derby experts for Best Picture are ‘Roma’ with 78.7% of the vote, ‘Green Book’ with 12.2% of the vote and ‘Black Panther’ with the remaining 9.1% of the vote. Outside of all of the data, this is the category worth laying down multiples on for Sunday’s show.
These are my TOP 10 VALUES ranked for Sunday night’s show
That was a marathon. I don’t have much more to say about what to bet on with this show. If you ride with me, just know I have confidence we will make some money.
Also, make sure to tune into the Oscars Electric Chair that will be airing on Barstool Sports social media accounts this Sunday night, starting at 7|6p CST. It will be me, KenJac, PFT Commenter and Marty Mush (with potential cameos from Trillballins and Big Cat) chatting with you about the show, making side bets, reacting to winning or losing money and much, much more. We also all drew nominees out of a hat and required each other to place those bets. It got pretty hectic and will add to the fun of the live show.
See everyone Sunday night!
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