Is your bracket already busted? How about betting on Benedict Cumberbatch instead? DraftKings is offering odds on the 2022 Academy Awards. While the big broadcast of the 94th Academy Awards isn’t until March 27, betting action is already happening at the sportsbooks. Here, we look at odds to win Best Picture.
The Power Of The Dog (-280 odds)
Are you looking for 126 straight minutes of addiction, dead bunnies, castration, and anthrax? “The Power of the Dog” is for you! This international production stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Kirsten Dunst, and if you came for the horses, you better be prepared for the depression and verbal abuse.
All that sadism and brooding mean one thing: Best Picture nod! Since “The Power of the Dog” was the darling of the pre-Oscars circuit, critics are laying themselves down before its butchered-cow power. If you like hovering near a solid favorite, this is the one.
CODA stands for “Child of Deaf Adults,” and Emilia Jones has the title role. She is the sole hearing member in a family of deaf adults, and the film stars both deaf as well as hearing cast members. In an indicator of how much the entertainment industry has changed, “CODA” isn’t distributed by an old-school studio, but Apple TV+.
If you’re waiting for the teenage star, Ruby, to discover she has special musical talent, you have 1) seen “Mr. Holland’s Opus”, 2) seen any movie ever. CODA is a remake of a French film and is already slathered with other awards nods and wins. While not the heavy favorite that “The Power of the Dog” is, “CODA” offers more bang for your betting buck.
If you’re feeling melancholy over bunny dissection and the struggles of the differently-abled in working class New England, cheer up with an hour-and-a-half of demoralizing violence and religious persecution. “Belfast” puts Judi Dench in grandma clothes, while Kenneth Branagh, as writer/director, stages part of the film in black and white. The soundtrack features Van Morrison’s music.
“Belfast” has already won Outstanding British Film at the 75th British Academy Film Awards, and, like “The Power of the Dog” and “CODA,” it was nominated for a mega-crapton of non-Oscar awards. Although it’s grossed far more than “The Power of the Dog” and “CODA,” it’s not as much of a film festival circuit favorite, so you’ll find it at a disadvantage here.
King Richard (+1600)
This biopic of Richard Williams, father and coach of tennis phenoms Venus Williams and Serena Williams, stars Will Smith and pulled in $37.7 worldwide. Venus and Serena served as executive producers on “King Richard,” so if you’re looking for the wheelbarrows of dirt on the Williams family, you’re not going to find it here.
Oscar tends to snub sports biopics, with the exception that a handful of actors and actresses who appeared in them were winners. So if “King Richard” is going to take home hardware, it’s much more likely to do so via Best Actor nominee Will Smith. While the Fresh Prince is the odds-on favorite in his category, Best Picture is a risky bet.
West Side Story (+1600)
It’s a remake of a beloved musical about racial tension directed by Steven Spielberg, so this was going to make the list even if it were set in Dollywood with opposing gangs of water skiers. This go-round of “West Side Story” turned to Rita Moreno, who was in the original film, to play a supporting role. It debuted three days after the death of its lyricist, Stephen Sondheim.
This film spent a bit of time in development hell, and was further delayed by COVID-19. It fell entirely flat at the box office, partially because of some controversial modern insertions and criticism that the actress playing Maria was not Puerto Rican, but it still appeared on the American Film Institute’s list of top ten films of the year.
The weight of Spielberg and lingering affection for the score means that “West Side Story” probably has a better shot at the Oscar than “King Richard,” despite their matching odds, but if you’re looking for a bigger payout, keep on reading.
“Dune” should have garnered a nomination on the power of Oscar Issac’s beard alone. Hollywood has always struggled to wrangle the sprawling written origins of the franchise onto the screen, but this version performed well enough that its sequel got the go-ahead for production in its debut week.
“Dune” carried not only the preconceptions from its originating novel, but also multiple adaptations that pop up every couple of decades. Oscar likes sci-fi about as much as it does sports biopics, so, like the “Star Wars” IP, expect Dune to score in the visual effects category and not much elsewhere.
Licorice Pizza (+3500)
The title sounds like a food-based crime against humanity, and the film itself is perhaps The first Academy Award nominee featuring waterbed manufacturing. Also the plot concerns a 15-year-old boy starting a relationship with a 25-year-old woman annnnnnnnnnnnnd we’re done here.
“Licorice Pizza” is a longshot for all the reasons you think it is, plus the bonus charges of racism from the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, which criticizes the film’s scenes in which a character uses a demeaning faux-Asian accent. Because of all the …. let’s just say …. “sensitive issues” involved here, it’s a wonder this one was nominated in any category at all, let alone for Best Picture.
Not. Gonna. Win it.
Don’t Look Up (+3500)
There’s a lot of bunching at the bottom here. But if you’re rolling simply by star power, “Don’t Look Up” is the best choice of the bottom-dwellers. It features Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence and Tyler Perry and Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep and Ariana Grande. Since the film is a satire (albeit an astonishingly preening one) on celebrity culture and climate change, it’s not surprising a lot of them would show up here.
This is a Netflix baby, and it’s not so much a dark comedy as a 138-minute lecture about who’s allowed to talk and who’s not. Which is an interesting and timely subject and a rich mine to explore, but perhaps its release so close to the COVID-19 pandemic felt like one elite demand for attention too many.
The premise is smart, but the execution is so heavy-handed that you’ll root for the comet, all methane everywhere, and an extinction-level volcanic eruption just to make sure. It’s the cinematic version of George Clooney’s 2006 Academy Award acceptance speech, and so Oscar, smugly, includes it here. But he’s a little too savvy to turn the nod to gold.
Drive My Car (+3500)
Here’s the wild card. “Drive My Car” is a Japanese film, adapted from a short story by Haruki Murakami. Rotten Tomatoes refers to the runtime (179 minutes) as “imposing,” and if that doesn’t scare you right back into some nice, safe, 22-minute “Golden Girl” episodes, I don’t know what will.
It’s a grappling-with-grief movie, and also a road movie, and also a really-heavy-conversation-can-we-not-talk-about-this movie. It was the toast of Cannes and a triple BAFTA nominee, which means Academy Award voters had no choice but to at least slap it on the list, which is probably where discussion of “Drive My Car” will stop.
Nightmare Alley (+8000)
So there’s a novel and a movie and now another movie named “Nightmare Alley,” and all of them are about a carnival worker and eating live chickens, but only this one has Ron Perlman. This reworked version also stars Cate Blanchett, Bradley Cooper, and William Dafoe. “Nightmare Alley” is a noir special that also received niche nominations as a period film.
“Nightmare Alley” loops right back around to the good times promised by “The Power of the Dog” up top, with a charming series of murders and opium addiction to compliment the chicken.