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Oscars 2020 Betting Guide, Odds & Darkhorses to Consider

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com

Adam Thompson  | 7 mins

Oscars 2020 Betting Guide, Odds & Darkhorses to Consider

Bookies.com handicapper Adam Thompson — a screenwriter in his free time who was head writer on the Amazon Prime TV drama “A Billion to One” — has broken down several of the marquee awards for Sunday’s Oscars show.

The 92nd Academy Awards are Sunday, and you can get in on the action — depending on where you live, of course.

The Oscars recognize the best of the best in film from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Many of the top sportsbooks in New Jersey as well as in Indiana are now offering 2020 Oscars odds, including DraftKings and 888sport.

Picking Oscar winners isn’t just blind luck, and it’s not necessarily about choosing the best film or best performance. There are trends that can point in the right direction.

Note: All odds below are available at 888sport and current as of publication.

Best Picture Odds

1917 -182
Parasite +275
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood +900
Joker +1000
The Irishman +5000
Jojo Rabbit +5000
Little Women +10000
Marriage Story +10000
Ford v Ferrari +25000

The Favorite: The World War I film “1917” was groundbreaking in its cinematography, but it wasn’t just flash and dash. The story was riveting and actors big and small were memorable. Few films lately make you clutch your chair as you watch it. “1917” won the Golden Globes before the film garnered wide release. Now it’s out there, and it’s the favorite for a reason.

Darkhorse to Watch: Astonishing enough, the favorite hasn’t won the Oscar the last three years – “Green Book” was a mini-shocker last year, as was “The Shape of Water” in 2017, while “Moonlight” in 2016 was a bona fide upset. The No. 2 choice on the board this time is “Parasite.” Only 11 foreign language films have ever been nominated, and none have won. But it’s making history with its nominations and, in some cases, its wins, including the Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Cast.

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Best Actor Odds

Joaquin Phoenix, Joker -5000
Adam Driver, Marriage Story +1000
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon… +3300
Antonio Banderas, Pain & Glory +5000
Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes +6600

The Favorite: Phoenix has won every acting award this year for his portrayal of the Joker – and for good reason. It’s a MasterClass on the art. He’s not losing.

Darkhorse to Watch: Seven of the last 10 Oscars for this award have gone to actors playing real-life people, but only one entrant has that mantra, and it’s big underdog Pryce. How about Banderas, who had earned rave reviews for his role in the Spanish-speaking “Pain & Glory,” a film Time Magazine dubbed Film of the Year? It’s his first nomination, and the payout potential is far better than Driver’s.

Best Actress Odds

Renee Zellweger, Judy -2500
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story +1000
Cynthia Erivo, Harriet +2000
Charlize Theron, Bombshell +2500
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women +3300

The Favorite: Eight of the last 10 Best Actress awards previously won the same award at the Golden Globes. Over the past 20 years, 14 have taken both statuettes. Zellweger won the first one already. She’s the big favorite to take this one, too, following her memorable portrayal of doomed silver screen legend Judy Garland. She won at the Golden Globes, Critic’s Choice and Screen Actors Guild Awards, and 10 of the last 12 actresses who won those three won this one as well.

Darkhorse to Watch: Johansson was lauded for her performance in “Marriage Story,” and some trends point to her being an actual darkhorse contender. For one, actresses playing real-life people haven’t been as successful in the awards department as their male counterparts. Seventeen nominations the last 10 years have yielded just three wins. Also, the Academy has been awarding first-time winners for this category more often than not lately. Johansson is going for her first Oscar; Zellweger already has won (though it was 16 years ago for “Cold Mountain”).

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Best Director Odds

Sam Mendes, 1917 -560
Bong Joon Ho, Parasite +325
Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon… +1700
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman +5000
Todd Phillips, Joker +5000

The Favorite: Mendes has cleaned house in most major awards shows for “1917,” so it would be a surprise to see him lose at the Super Bowl of awards shows. Eight of the last 10 Best Director awards have gone to non-Americans, and Mendes is a Brit.

Darkhorse to Watch: Bong Joon Ho isn’t American, either, and he’s been just behind Mendes at every awards turn. The New York Times declared he might be the “Filmmaker of the Century” after "Parasite" came out. It’s supremely directed. If “1917” is to win Best Picture and Best Cinematography, perhaps it’s this category that helps spread the love.

Best Supporting Actor Odds

Brad Pitt, Once Upon… -3335
Joe Pesci, The Irishman +1200
Al Pacino, The Irishman +2800
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day… +3300
Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes +5000

The Favorite: Pitt has swept the Best Supporting Actor awards this season, and with two actors from the same film likely batting each other for bids, Pitt should take the Oscar as well.

Darkhorse to Watch: It comes down to Pesci and Pacino, and it’s a strong split as to which was preferred in the supremely acted Martin Scorsese drama. Personally, I thought Pesci played his part perfectly, and it was more ingrained in the film. He already has won an Oscar in this category for “Goodfellas.”

Best Supporting Actress Odds

Laura Dern, Marriage Story -2500
Margot Robbie, Bombshell +1200
Florence Pugh, Little Women +1400
Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit +2000
Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell +5000

The Favorite: Dern has had a successful awards season for her role as a fast-talking lawyer, including the victory at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and Critics Choice Awards. She’s a two-time Oscar nominee but has yet to win, which gives even more reason to side with the huge favorite here.

Darkhorse to Watch: Johannsson is also nominated for Best Actress, a dual-nominee that had never happened before. She may not win the “big one” but could get a surprise hit here — though it would be over her “Marriage Story” co-star.

Best Animated Feature Odds

Toy Story 4-125
Missing Link+800
I Lost My Body+3300
How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming+5000

The Favorite: "Toy Story 4" is Pixar’s entrant, and if Pixar makes it, it’s the favorite. The company has more nominations than any other in this category with nine wins — Disney is the only other company with more than one (it has three). "Klaus" has made a hard charge to near co-favorite status after shortening considerably recently.

Darkhorse to Watch: "Klaus" has picked up steam in the last month, but “Missing Link,” the claymation piece about a lonely Sasquatch, was the surprise winner at the Golden Globes. You’re not going to find a more-realistic darkhorse contender in a major category than right here. Perhaps Oscar voters have also grown tired of sequels and remakes.

Best Cinematography Odds

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood+1700
The Irishman+2000
The Lighthouse+2500

The Favorite: “1917” was filmed to make it appear as one, single shot. It was harrowing filmmaking at its finest and Hollywood is going to reward it. Roger Deakins, the film’s cinematographer, won this award in 2018 for “Blade Runner 2049.”

Darkhorse to Watch: “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” was a beautiful film and is a worthy No. 2 contender. It would likely win this in most years if a film like “1917” wasn’t in the mix. Perhaps enough voters reward Quentin Tarantino and his longtime cinematographer, three-time Oscar winner Robert Richardson.

About the Author

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com
Adam Thompson
NFL writer and expert Adam Thompson joined Bookies.com in 2019 after a successful run as senior handicapper for SportsLine and CBSSports.com. He's long been established as one of the nation's premier handicappers, specializing in the NFL where he's hit on more than 60% over the past three years. Adam's NBA, PGA and horse racing picks have also produced major winners over the last 12 months. His customized NFL and NBA odds for players and teams have been picked up by hundreds of websites over the past year.