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Place Your Bets: Who Will Win An Oscar?

Andrew Payne Andrew Payne
February 3rd, 2009 3:32pm EST
Kate WinsletWith the biggest gambling day of the year, Super Bowl Sunday, having just passed, it's time to turn our attention to best gambling day to beat Vegas: Oscar night.

Yes, Oscar night. You can bet on the Oscars on various websites, at various casinos, and probably in many illegal outlets as well (though we discourage this practice). What does each betting spot have in common? They probably have no idea how to handicap the race, giving the savvy better tremendous odds of winning big.

Whether it's Frances McDormand getting 6-1 for "Fargo", Helen Hunt 8-1 for "As Good As It Gets" or Marcia Gay Harden getting an absurd 14-1 for "Pollock", likely longshots abound each year amidst Vegas' misunderstanding of the race.

This year is no exception. The following are four longshots that could pay huge dividends come February 22. Remember, we take no responsibility for any losses incurred, these are simply suggestions.

"The Reader" (25-1) to win Best Picture

Paying out $250 on a $10 bet, "The Reader" for Best Picture is one of the biggest longshots on the board. It's also the most likely to upset prohibitive (1-7) favorite "Slumdog Millionaire" for Best Picture.

Why? Because it has the renewed Harvey Weinstein Oscar campaign machine fueling its hopes, the same machine responsible for the "Shakespeare In Love" upset of 1998. In other words, never count out a movie that has Weinstein's full support, especially when it's getting such long odds.

Granted, "Slumdog" is essentially invincible at this point, but you never know when the backlash will come. If it does, look for "The Reader" to sneak into the winners spot and pay a cool 25-1 to those taking the risk.

The Reader



Brad Pitt (15-1) to win Best Actor

If anybody is going to topple the co-juggernaut of Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) and Sean Penn (Milk) (10-11 and 23-20, respectively) it's going to be the biggest movie star on the list, and it really isn't all that unlikely.

Neither Rourke nor Penn have really done themselves any favors so far this Oscar season. Sure, they've split the Golden Globe and SAG Award, but each win was accompanied by a bizarre acceptance speech and behavior that the Academy may look down upon.

That leaves Pitt (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button) with an excellent chance at the upset. Being the biggest start certainly helps, as does the fact that his film received more nominations than any other. The Academy surely loves it and if they end up looking elsewhere for a Best Actor winner, Pitt is likely to reap the spoils. 15-1 seems very generous.

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button



Meryl Streep (3-1) to win Best Actress

3-1 isn't majorly long odds, but Meryl Streep (Doubt) is currently running third in the race according to the bookmakers with Kate Winslet (The Reader) (10-13) and Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married) (11-4) in the lead. Are they serious?

Is Vegas seriously giving out 3-1 odds on Meryl Streep with a SAG Award (her first for a feature film)? Are they really going to pay $300 on $100 bet when Streep's being over 25 years removed from her last Oscar makes her feel overdue? Are they really favoring an actress in a movie that got mixed reviews (Winslet) and another whose buzz peaked months ago (Hathaway)?

3-1 odds almost feels like stealing. Get in soon before the line moves again.

Doubt



Taraji P. Henson (10-1) to win Best Supporting Actress

At the risk of revealing spoilers, it should be noted that if the Who Will/Who Should Win column were written today, that Henson (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button) would be labeled the favorite to win going into Oscar night. There are a variety of reasons why she should be the favorite, but those will have to wait until that actual column. Just rest assured that right now, the most likely winner is getting an amazing 10-1 to take home the trophy.

This is an incredible line assuming that every single nominee (with the exception of Amy Adams) has essentially an equal chance of taking home the trophy. Vegas doesn't seem to think the same way offering Penelope Cruz at 5-7, maybe the biggest sucker bet in the history of the Oscars.

Normally, this would be a category to avoid as Henson, Cruz, Tomei and Davis should each be getting 2-1 or 3-1 and no clear favorite. As it stands, only the latter two actresses are getting those types of odds with Henson enjoying a ridiculous 10-1 despite being the most likely winner of a bunched group. This is an excellent bet.

Taraji P. Henson



Categories to Avoid

The only other categories that most casinos take bets on are Best Director and Best Supporting Actor. There is absolutely no bet worth making in either of these categories as the frontrunners are absolute locks with no conceivable way of losing.

Of course, this means that if you bet on them, there is free money to be made, but Vegas is ahead of the curve as they've made Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) a 1-6 favorite and Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) an absurd 1-40 favorite. The latter line means you'd have to bet $4,000 just to win $100. Boyle's is a bit more reasonable, but it's never a good idea to make bets at less than even money.

So stick with the longshots and hopefully you'll cash in.

(Odds according to Bodoglife.com - Current as of Noon PST, February 3, 2009)

Andrew Payne
Story by Andrew Payne

Starpulse contributing writer