February 9, 2012

OSCAR ODDS for Major Categories

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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>Courtesy of the London oddsmakers (averaging a variety of books at, there appears to be little suspense ahead for the Best Picture and Best Director races at this year’s Academy Awards and almost no races at all for Best Supporting Actor and Actress.  Currently, The Artist is heavily favored to win Best Picture, with much better than even odds of 1:6 (suggesting a probability of winning of over 80%).  The exact same odds are offered for the film’s director, Michel Hazanavicius.  

The Descendants follows with odds of 6:1 (suggesting a winning probability of between 10 and 15%).  The other films in the race range from 14:1 for Hugo to a snowball’s chance ratio of 73:1 for The Tree of Life.  In the Best Director race, Martin Scorcese has a slightly better chance of upsetting Hazanavicius, with 4:1 odds of winning (about a 20% chance of winning for Hugo — if not for an unofficial lifetime achievement award).

The Actor and Actress categories are more interesting, with George Clooney (1:2) and Jean Dujardin (6:4) in a fairly close race for Best Actor.  Feeling lucky?  Go for Demian Bichir (for A Better Life) at 42:1.  In the Best Actress race, two actresses are near even money: Viola Davis from The Help (5:6) and Meryl Streep the Iron Lady (1:1).  

In contrast, the Academy might as well ship the Oscars to the Supporting winners, according to the oddsmakers.  Christopher Plummer (1:25) and Octavia Spencer (1:20) are so heavily favored the numbers suggest around a 95% chance of winning.

The writing categories actually have some contenders.  Best Original Screenplay has Midnight in Paris (2:5) favored, with The Artist (2:1) in the hunt.  Odds are pretty long (a million to one?) that Woody Allen would actually be at Hollywood and Highland to pick up his Oscar for writing Midnight — so the telecast’s running time would be shortened a few minutes.  The Best Adapted Screenplay has three (the most of any major category) writers with a legitimate shot:  The Descendants (2:5) is the favorite but Moneyball (4:1) and Hugo (5:1) are at least in striking distance.

Of course, the real oddsmaker we trust is our critic Mitch Salem (don’t fill out an Oscar party ballot without him).  In an upcoming post, he will offer his perspective on these odds, and we will update these numbers as necessary as the Academy Awards nears.         

                     ACADEMY AWARDS BETTING ODDS
                          as of February 8, 2012

     BEST PICTURE                    BEST DIRECTOR
     The Artist           1:6        Michel Hazanavicius 1:6
     The Descendants      6:1        Martin Scorcese     4:1
     Hugo                14:1        Alexander Payne    13:1
     The Help            18:1        Woody Allen        35:1
     War Horse           26:1        Terrence Malick    37:1
     Midnight in Paris   55:1
     Moneyball           56:1
     Extremely Loud &    59:1
      Incredibly Close  
     The Tree of Life    73:1

     BEST ACTOR                      BEST ACTRESS
     George Clooney       1:2        Viola Davis         5:6 
     Jean Dujardin        6:4        Meryl Streep        1:1
     Brad Pitt           18:1        Michelle Williams  14:1
     Gary Oldman         22:1        Glenn Close        40:1
     Demian Bichir       42:1        Rooney Mara        42:1

     Christopher Plummer  1:25       Octavia Spencer     1:20
     Kenneth Branagh      9:1        Berenice Bejo       9:1
     Max Von Sydow       18:1        Jessica Chastain   18:1
     Nick Nolte          32:1        Melissa McCarthy   32:1
     Jonah Hill          46:1        Janet McTeer       33:1

     Midnight in Paris    2:5        The Descendants     2:5
     The Artist           2:1        Moneyball           4:1
     A Separation        19:1        Hugo                5:1
     Margin Call         19:1        Tinker Tailor…   14:1
     Bridesmaids         23:1        Ides of March      22:1 

            source: average of odds posted at
                     Favorites and odds near even bolded 


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."