2007 Oscars Betting: What to Look For
by Trevor Whenham - 01/17/2007
Despite your best efforts, you probably can't get away with watching sports all of the time. Once in a while your family and friends are going to want you to take a break and do something different. One of those activities will more than likely be taking in a movie. Little do they know that watching a movie, especially this time of year, is almost as good as watching a basketball game when it comes to betting opportunities. You just have to know what you are looking for.
The Golden Globe Awards were on Monday night. Those awards kick off a seemingly endless series of movie awards that will culminate on Feb. 25 with the Oscars. The nominees for those awards are named on the morning of Jan. 23, and that will kick off a chance to grab profit if you act quickly. Soon after the nominations are released many sportsbooks will offer the opportunity to bet on which of the five nominees in each of the major categories will come away with the hardware.
To capitalize on early Oscars betting, the first thing you need to do is eliminate the categories that are wide open and don't have a clear leader. Those may become playable later on in the race, but at the start playing them is purely a gamble. Best Picture, for example, is a murky race. It looked like it was coming down to two films - "Dreamgirls" and "The Departed" - but the win at the Golden Globes by "Babel" threw the competition into chaos. We learned last year when "Crash" upset presumed leader "Brokeback Mountain" that this race can be very fluid and hard to call. The Best Supporting Actor is also very wide open, with frontrunner Eddie Murphy being closely pursued by Jack Nicholson and Djimon Hounsou, with legitimate challenges also being mounted by Alan Arkin and the unknown former child actor Jackie Earle Haley for Little Children. It will be too difficult to isolate one or two clear leaders in these races, so more handicapping and market watching will be required before bets are placed.
Some of the races, on the other hand, appear to be over before they even start. It would take a miracle to take the Best Actress award away from Helen Mirren for her role in "The Queen". Former American Idol runner-up Jennifer Hudson seems almost as secure in the Best Supporting Actress race for her role in "Dreamgirls". The great Martin Scorsese seems to be on the verge of finally getting the Best Director award that it is almost impossible to believe that he hasn't taken home before now. Scorsese's "The Departed" seems on track to take home best adapted screenplay. Slightly less secure, but still firmly in command of his race, is Forest Whitaker as Best Actor for playing Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland". Peter O'Toole and Leonardo DiCaprio are also serious contenders in that category, though Whitaker's momentum is clearly and quickly building. This lack of competitiveness in many categories could make for a dull awards season, but it is far from unique. At this point last year it was equally clear that Reese Witherspoon, Ang Lee and Philip Seymour Hoffman were going to have a particularly good Oscar night.
In each of those categories the odds are going to be reasonably low as soon as they are posted, but they are likely to get much shorter as the show gets closer, especially if the frontrunners keep building on their presumed leads. The value in these races then, if you choose to play them, will be to play them as soon as you possibly can. You'll be locking your money in for a month, and you'll be facing a reasonably low return in some cases, but the return will be matched by a comparatively low degree of risk. If you have enough bankroll that a portion of it can be tied up for while without a real problem then this can be a reasonable way to find some profits with less risk than most games and events you bet on. Besides, if the tide of public opinion clearly turns against the current heavy favorites after you bet on them then you can always find ways to hedge your risk or reverse your position before the big day.
The other area of potential profit in early play is by being negative. In virtually all of the races it will be fairly easy to identify one or two nominees who stand almost no chance of taking home Oscar. For example, Ryan Gosling is likely to get a Best Actor nod for "Half Nelson", but he almost certainly doesn't need to write an acceptance speech. "Little Miss Sunshine", one of the funniest and most entertaining films of the year, will probably get a Best Picture nomination, but it doesn't have the heft to compete with the heavyweights - "The Departed", "Dreamgirls" and "Babel". The odds on these nominees, and the others like them, will start long and will get longer as the ceremony gets closer. By using one of the betting exchanges and shorting those films, or betting that they won't win, you will again to be able to secure a small to medium sized return at a small risk. Some bettors will find that to be an acceptable opportunity.
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