Academy Awards betting guides
Miko Malabute | Thursday, February 19, 2015
This Sunday, the 87th Academy Awards will reveal the year’s most brilliant pictures, celebrate the most heart-warming soundtracks and scores, commend the best directors, actors and actresses and coronate every other superlative in the movie business for their work and talent. Naturally, I looked to see what the “odds” (or “bets,” as presented by Las Vegas) are for each nominee in each category. Time to put my money where my mouth is because it’s almost showtime.
“Saving the best for first,” as Andy Bernard would say. Really, it’s no secret that this year’s Academy Awards is headlined by the two premiere nominations, “Birdman” (at 1/2 odds) and “Boyhood” (7/5 odds). Honestly, one has to feel terrible for “Boyhood” because any other year, there would be no question that this movie would win. One of the most beautifully directed (by Richard Linklater) feel-good, tear-inducing, call-your-parents-to-say-you-love-them movies, it is quite plain to see that any other year this would be a lock to win “Best Picture.” However, as I learned in boyhood, life isn’t fair, especially when there’s a big, bad bully in the way — “Birdman.” Starring big-time names such as Michael Keaton, Emma Stone and Zach Galifianakis, all three of whom deliver absolutely standout performances in this satirical “showbiz” film. At 1/2 odds, it really can’t get much better. My money’s on “Birdman,” sorry “Boyhood.” You’ll understand when you’re older.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (-225), director of “Birdman,” is the relatively slight favorite over Richard Linklater (+125) and “Boyhood.” Again, these are the only two nominations that I’m even considering for this category, as the “Best Picture” winner usually goes hand-in-hand with this category — usually. For the past two Academy Awards, the “other” nominee (read: runner-up) for “Best Picture” won “Best Director.” In 2013, “Argo” won “Best Picture,” but “Life of Pi” director Ang Lee won “Best Director;” in 2014, “12 Years a Slave” won “Best Picture,” but Alfonso Cuarón and “Gravity” won “Best Director.” However, the pattern resumes, and third time’s the charm to break the cold streak: my money’s on Inarritu and “Birdman.”
Eddie Redmayne (-400), who beautifully plays the role of Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything,” is the safest bet there is in the field of nominees for this category. The subtleties of his nonverbal communication (ranging from his facial expressions to his speech to his posture) emulated Hawking to the point of perfection, internalizing Hawking’s mannerisms as his own and truly portraying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in a painfully beautiful manner. Michael Keaton (+250) shows the full range of emotions and utilizes his entire skill set in “Birdman” as the slightly crazed but likable washed-up actor. Bradley Cooper (+1200) in “American Sniper” was great, but just is not in the same tier as Radmayne and Keaton — the Southern drawl is charming, but Cooper overdid it with one too many uses of “baby” throughout the film. Benedict Cumberbatch (+2800) in “The Imitation Game” put on a valiant effort in the film but was just too much too often, and Steve Carrell (+5000) in “Foxcatcher” offered a nice, refreshing reprieve from his typical role as funny man, but was just outclassed in this field of actors and suffered from a good but not great movie.
The favorite is Redmayne, but this year’s Academy Awards voters will absolutely love “Birdman.” We call this a three-peat: money’s on Keaton and “Birdman.”
Julianne Moore (-5000) of “Still Alice” offers one of the most heart-wrenching performances of the year as Dr. Alice Howland, professor, mother and (unfortunately) early-onset Alzheimer’s disease patient. She stars along fellow big names Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parrish, but manages to outshine all of them. The field offers other big names and outstanding performances, such as Reese Witherspoon (+1200) in “Wild,” Rosamund Pike (+2500) in “Gone Girl,” Felicity Jones (+4000) in “The Theory of Everything,” and Marion Cotillard (+5000) in “Two Days One Night.” However, the numbers just don’t lie, and if there was ever a safe bet, it’s this: Moore will win “Best Actress.”
Best Supporting Actor
Money’s on J.K. Simmons (-5000) in “Whiplash.” At this point, you just have to go with the numbers. Granted, I haven’t seen “Whiplash,” and in my opinion, Edward Norton (+1200) in “Birdman” and Ethan Hawke (+3300) in “Boyhood” were phenomenal. But you have to trust the numbers; J.K. Simmons is as safe of a pick as it can get.
Best Supporting Actress
Same argument as above, with Patricia Arquette (-5000) in “Boyhood” practically running away with the award. The odds prove that Arquette is essentially a lock for the award, but this time I can fervently agree and support it (as if she needed it): the ups and downs she goes through as a mother in the film made me want to call my own mom. Love you mom.
Best Original Song
“Glory” (-500) from the movie “Selma” is the favorite, despite so many other “Selma” snubs this Oscars season. John Legend and Common connect again for another truly emotional, beautiful and powerful song. Glory, glory, hallelujah, this song will win, and it shouldn’t even be close, as the next-favored song “Everything is Awesome” (+400) from “The Lego Movie” is absolutely awful. Listened to it, and my head still feels like it’s racing 100 mph.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.