Will Smith, Jane Campion Big Betting Faves As Oscars Odds Shift Following Noms

Best Actress up for grabs after Gaga snub, and does 'Drive My Car' have momentum?
oscars statuette

The clock is winding down on opportunities to bet on Venus or Serena Williams to win tennis majors. But between now and March 27, New Jersey sports bettors have the opportunity to wager on their father winning a major. Sort of.

Will Smith, from West Philadelphia, born and raised — where you can’t bet legally on the Oscars, as allowances for gambling on non-sports events vary from state to state — has been nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard. He was a heavy favorite (-330) to win the gold statuette prior to the announcement Tuesday morning of the nominations, and he remains the heavy favorite (-300) in a category in which there was one somewhat unexpected nominee, but the odds didn’t shift much.

The former Fresh Prince isn’t the biggest slam dunk on the board, however, according to odds released anew Tuesday morning by DraftKings Sportsbook. That would be Jane Campion, director of The Power of the Dog, who went from a -600 sure thing Monday night to a -750 surer thing Tuesday when the noms came out.

Here’s a look at how the odds moved post-nominations for the four biggest categories — all of which feature one nominee that DK didn’t quite see coming.

Best Picture: ‘The Dog’ is the favorite

What looked like a three-film race as of Monday morphed into more of an either/or on Tuesday. Here are the 10 nominated movies and their odds before and after the nominations were announced:

The Power of the Dog+100-155
West Side Story+300+600
Licorice Pizza+1200+1600
King Richard+1600+2000
Drive My CarN/A+2500
Don't Look Up+2800+3500
Nightmare Alley+3500+4000

The Power of the Dog and Belfast, which received 12 and seven nominations, respectively, have separated themselves from the pack, with Campion’s movie shifting to minus money. Steven Spielberg’s update of West Side Story slipped into semi-longshot range overnight, Dune became a bigger underdog after its director got left out (more on that in the next section), and House of Gucci, listed at +3500 pre-noms, came off the board entirely because it got bumped by the three-hour-long Japanese picture Drive My Car, which is getting rave reviews and seems to be coming up strong on the outside.

At +2500, Drive My Car might be a tempting wagering option, while Licorice Pizza is intriguing at +1600 if you believe the Academy has an itch to recognize the career achievements of critical darling Paul Thomas Anderson. Then there’s Don’t Look Up, a polarizing satire (that hits depressingly close to home for many) that some in the film media aren’t ruling out:

Best Director: That Campion-ship season

If the DraftKings odds are to be believed, it would be a shocker if anyone other than Campion wins Best Director. (Especially since Yorgos Lanthimos isn’t even nominated this year.) In 1994, Campion became only the second woman to be nominated for Best Director, and now, following Chloe Zhao’s win a year ago for Nomadland, the first woman nominated for the honor twice can become the third ever to win the award.

Here’s how the odds have moved:

Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog)-600-750
Steven Spielberg (West Side Story)+700+800
Kenneth Branagh (Belfast)+700+900
Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car)N/A+1200
Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza)+1400+1600

If we’re recognizing upstart Drive My Car as a threat, we should be wary of Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s chances after he snagged a spot expected to go to Dune’s Denis Villeneuve. And again, PTA at +1600 has some appeal if Academy voters do the, “Wait, how have we not given this guy a Best Director award yet?” thing.

Best Actor: Prince becomes King … becomes winner?

All the buzz points to this being Will Smith’s year. (He’s been nominated twice before, including once for playing another real-life sports figure, Muhammad Ali.) Then again, the late Chadwick Boseman was such a sure thing last year that they orchestrated the Oscars broadcast to end with his posthumous crowning — and Anthony Hopkins’ name ended up in the envelope.

The odds shifted ever so slightly Tuesday morning to make Smith fans worry about a guy with a much longer name:

Will Smith (King Richard)-330-300
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog)+350+300
Andrew Garfield (tick, tick... BOOM!)+400+500
Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth)+1800+2000
Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos)N/A+3500

With The Power of the Dog leading the way across all categories, Benedict Cumberbatch is looking live at 3/1, plus 5/1 mid-range shot Andrew Garfield is in the midst of an early career renaissance.

This seems destined to prove an irrelevant detail on Oscars night, but Javier Bardem’s nomination came at the expense of Leonardo DiCaprio in Don’t Look Up, who was +1600 before the final five were revealed.

Best Actress: Sans Gaga, who’s on the edge of glory?

Best Actress is the only category among the four biggies without a minus-money favorite, but the bigger story is the absence of one nominee who was expected to have a shot at gold. Lady Gaga was +250 at DraftKings on Monday night, the second-shortest shot on the board, but her performance in House of Gucci went unrecognized, leaving a clear-cut top two instead of a top three:

Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos)+125+120
Kristen Stewart (Spencer)+300+175
Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter)+700+450
Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye)+650+500
Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers)N/A+1400

Nicole Kidman and Olivia Colman have each won this award before, while Penelope Cruz has won Best Supporting Actress and Jessica Chastain has been nominated in both categories. Kristen Stewart, on the other hand, is a first-time nominee for her performance as Princess Diana in Spencer. The +175 hopeful checks several boxes that Academy voters tend to go for.

Photo: Shutterstock


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