Academy Awards Odds 2021: Boseman a Lock?

Apr 11, 2021 |
By: Covers Staff
Academy Awards Odds 2021: Boseman a Lock?
Chadwick Boseman has lapped the Best Actor field, currently a huge -2,817 favorite to nab a posthumous Oscar for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports
Chadwick Boseman has lapped the Best Actor field, currently a huge -2,817 favorite to nab a posthumous Oscar for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Academy Awards betting odds have shifted significantly with awards season underway. The 2021 Oscars odds are heating up, as we're now just two weeks out from the Academy Awards, which take place on April 25.

Chloe Zhao's Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand and based on a 2017 non-fiction book, continues to be at the top of the Best Picture odds (-373) after Best Picture (Drama) and Best Director wins at the Golden Globes.

As for Academy Awards winner odds for the Best Actor and Best Actress categories, Chadwick Boseman has posthumously grown to a massive favorite (-4,464) for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, while Carey Mulligan's performance in Promising Young Woman has earned her top odds on the women's side (+130).

We bring you the current Oscars betting odds for the major categories and give you a rundown on how to bet on the Academy Awards.  

Odds to win Best Picture

Movie Odds to win Best Picture
Nomadland -373
The Trial of the Chicago 7 +602
Minari +621
Promising Young Woman +1,200
Judas and the Black Messiah +1,600
Mank +2,100
The Father +4,200
Sound of Metal +5,200

Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction (SIA) on April 11, 2021.

Pick to win Best Picture

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (+602)

After Nomadland won for best Drama at the Golden Globes it saw its Oscars odds soar all the way up to -291. However, the recipients of the two awards often don't match up. Of the last 16 winners of this award, only four of them also won the Globe for Drama, while another (Green Book in 2018) received the Globe for Best Musical or Comedy. 

So don't count out the second favorite on the odds board. Aaron Sorkin's latest flick about the importance of protest in a democracy ticks a lot of boxes for past Academy Award winners: a well-recognized ensemble cast, strong performances, an engaging narrative, and cultural relevance.

Odds to win Best Actor

Actor Odds to win Best Actor
Chadwick Boseman -4,464
Anthony Hopkins +1,000
Riz Ahmed +1,100
Gary Oldman +2,000
Steven Yeun +2,200

Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction (SIA) on April 11, 2021.

Pick to win Best Actor

Chadwick Boseman (-4,464)

Boseman is practically a sure thing to posthumously win for Best Actor after he tragically passed away in August. The 43-year-old had the range, charisma, and acting chops to be a force in Hollywood for decades, and his performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is well-deserving of accolades.

At this price, however, there's no reason to bother playing this and I'm honestly surprised most books haven't pulled this bet yet. 

Odds to win Best Actress

Actress Odds to win Best Actress
Carey Mulligan +130
Viola Davis +153
Frances McDormand +305
Andra Day +628
Vanessa Kirby +1,000

Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction (SIA) on April 11, 2021.

Pick to win Best Actress

Carey Mulligan (+130)

Andra Day was the surprise winner for Best Actress at the Golden Globes, cashing in at +1,800 for her portrayal of Billie Holiday. While Day still has good value at +628 to win the Oscar, I think it's Mulligan's time to shine, especially when you consider the mixed reviews that The United States vs. Billie Holiday received 

Promising Young Woman seemingly came out of nowhere (aka the Sundance Film Festival) to emerge with critical acclaim, picking up five nominations at the Oscars. Mulligan carried the film with a scene-stealing performance that was equal parts empowering, hilarious, and tear-jerking.  

Odds to win Best Adapted Screenplay

Movie Odds to win Best Adapted Screenplay
Nomadland -442
The Father +458
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm +548
One Night In Miami +1,000
The White Tiger +2,000

Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction (SIA) on April 11, 2021.

Odds to win Best Animated Feature Film

Movie Odds to win Best Animated Feature Film
Soul -909
Wolfwalkers +456
Onward +1,200
Over the Moon +1,600
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon +2,500

Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction (SIA) on April 11, 2021.

Odds to win Best Director

Director Odds to win Best Director
Chloe Zhao -939
David Fincher +800
Lee Isaac Chung +1,000
Thomas Vinterberg +1,100
Emerald Fennell +1,500

Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction (SIA) on April 11, 2021.

Pick to win Best Director 

Chloe Zhao (-939)

While I don't think Nomadland will necessarily win for Best Picture, I do think director Chloe Zhao takes home this award. Unfortunately so do the oddsmakers who have moved her odds all the way to -939. 

There's no value with Zhao but if you're interested in backing a live long shot David Fincher (+736) has a chance for Mank, a biopic about the making of Citizen Kane. The film itself is a bit plodding, but Fincher's direction is sharp and after a highly-acclaimed career with two previous unsuccessful nominations for this category, it might be his time this year. 

Odds to win Best Documentary Feature

Movie Odds to win Best Documentary Feature (as of March 25)
My Octopus Teacher -171
Time +182
Collective +524
Crip Camp +1,000
The Mole Agent +3,200

Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction (SIA) on April 11, 2021.

Odds to win Best International Film

Movie Odds to win Best International Film
Another Round -424
Quo Vadis, Aida? +411
Collective +800
Better Days +1,200
The Man Who Sold His Skin +1,800

Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction (SIA) on April 11, 2021.

Odds to win Best Original Screenplay

Movie Odds to win Best Original Screenplay
Promising Young Woman -227
The Trial of the Chicago 7 +157
Minari +1,000
Judas and the Black Messiah +1,600
Sound of Metal +2,100

Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction (SIA) on April 11, 2021.

Odds to win Best Supporting Actor

Actor Odds to win Best Supporting Actor
Daniel Kaluuya -1,326
Sacha Baron Cohen +800
Leslie Odom Jr. +1,200
Paul Raci +1,400
LaKeith Stanfield +1,800

Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction (SIA) on April 11, 2021.

Pick to win Best Supporting Actor

Paul Raci (+1,400)

Another big favorite this time with Daniel Kaluuya as the expected winner for his portrayal of former Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. However, I could see an upset in this spot with Kaluuya's co-star from Judas, Lakeith Stanfield, also being nominated and possibly splitting votes. 

I said "co-star" because both actors actually seemed like the leads in that movie. Don't be surprised if the Academy ends up selecting somebody who better fits the bill of "supporting actor" like Paul Raci who gives a stirring performance as a Vietnam vet who runs a shelter for hearing-impaired addicts in Sound of Metal. 

Odds to win Best Supporting Actress

Actress Odds to win Best Supporting Actress
Youn Yuh-jung -189
Maria Bakalova +265
Glenn Close +591
Olivia Coleman +1,000
Amanda Seyfried +1,100

Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction (SIA) on April 11, 2021.

Pick to win Best Supporting Actress

Youn Yuh-jung (-189)

This was the only major category where you could take the favorite at plus money, but Youn Yuh-jung is now ahead of Maria Bakalova on the odds board at -189 odds. Bakalova might be tempting at +265 after she won the Critics Choice for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, but the Golden Globes went to Jodie Foster, who wasn't even nominated for the Oscars, so momentum might not be enough to carry Bakalova to another win. 

Our money is on Youn, the famous Korean actress who was also nominated in this category across the Critics' Choice, BAFTAs, and SAGs. Youn played the role of the grandmother in Minari, a drama about a family of immigrants from South Korea adapting to life in rural Arkansas. While technically a supporting role, the grandmother, Soon-ja, is in many ways the heart and soul of the movie.

How to bet on the Academy Awards

Unlike sports betting, betting on the Oscars has a lot fewer statistics and numbers to keep in mind. But similar to wagering on sports, there are historical trends, news and narratives to follow if you want to better handicap your Academy Awards bets.

Know the voting system

Understanding how Oscars voting works is key to understanding who will be nominated and who will win. The Academy has over 8,000 members spread out over 17 branches. Each branch nominates for its own category; actors nominate for Best Actor, directors for Best Director etc. Every voter gets to nominate for the Best Picture Award and they also get to vote on every award once the nominations are in. 

In almost every award, the voters just choose their No. 1 choice, easy peasy right? Well, that's not how the Best Picture is chosen. For Best Picture, each voter chooses their favorite film in order of preference. The No. 1 choices are counted first and if one movie gets more than 50 percent of those votes, it's deemed the winner, but usually the No. 2 and No. 3 choices have to be tallied as well.

What are the takeaways from this voting system? Since actors are the ones nominating their peers, not only does an actor have to do a great job to get a nomination, he or she has to be widely-respected and probably well-liked as well. And because of the preferential voting for Best Picture, a movie that winds up at No. 2 or No. 3 on almost everyone's ballot can win the award if the No. 1 choice is split between several films. It's better to have a movie that most will rank in their Top 3 than a polarizing film that some voters have at No. 1 and others have near the bottom of their list. 

Winners keep on winning

The Oscars are the biggest name in the film industry awards circuit, but they aren't the first ones to hand out their hardware every year. The Golden Globe Awards are given out just after the new year, followed by the Screen Actor Guild (SAG) Awards, and then the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) in early February (Editor's Note: the awards schedule has been skewed in a COVID-stricken 2021 season). 

Movies and stars can often ride award-winning momentum into the Oscars. Films and actors that do well at these earlier award shows tend to also perform well at the Oscars. In 2020 for example, Joaquin Phoenix and Renee Zellweger swept the Best Actor and Best Actress awards across every major awards show. After each subsequent win, their odds to claim the Academy Award got better and the payout for bettors shrank. 

Follow the formula 

Some movie genres have historically done well with critics. These include war-time dramas, movies that explore race relations, films about the film industry (nobody ever said that Hollywood isn't vain), movies based on true stories, and scripts based on award-winning novels. 

While many view Argo (2012) as one of the weakest winners of the Best Picture Award, it fit into two of these categories since it was based on a true story and was about the film industry.  

Fitting into these genres is certainly no guarantee for Oscars success, but it is a good barometer for whether or not a film has the right stuff to make it into Oscar contention.

Bet on big stars 

Let's be honest, hype also plays a major role in whether or not certain movies get the credit they deserve. Especially early in the Oscars process, sportsbooks will tend to give favorable lines towards movies with big-name directors and actors.

Just like annual sports betting favorites like the Yankees and Lakers, the biggest names in Hollywood tend to get the most handle and often do well during awards season. 

Cultural impact is key

Keep in mind the current cultural environment that these movies are being watched in. Themes tend to resonate more with audiences and critics if they are more relevant to current public discourse. That said, movies are also about escapism and in times of crisis, sometimes critics gravitate towards lighter fare.  

Where can I bet on Oscars odds?

Although Las Vegas does not allow betting on the Oscars, many online sportsbooks and mobile apps provide odds for the Academy Awards usually under the categories of "entertainment" or "specials". Check out your Oscars betting options at the best sportsbooks available where you live. 

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