We’re just over three weeks away from the 2018 edition of the Oscars — which means that Academy Awards odds enthusiasts have a chance to make money on the basis of the winners in a legion of different categories. Understanding how a couple thousand of voters who are insiders in the film industry are going to bet is a different process than deciding whether LeBron’s new supporting cast in Cleveland, thanks to the Cavaliers’ wheeling and dealing at the trade deadline, will get them past Golden State in the Finals. However, looking at the way the other awards have gone so far (SAG, Golden Globes and so on) as well as the causes at work in the films can give us a fairly good idea.
2018 Academy Award Odds and Predictions
Academy Awards Odds for Best Actress
- Favorite: Frances McDormand (Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri)
She won this category at the Golden Globes (Best Actress in a Drama) and from the Screen Actors’ Guild. On the screen, she displays the entire spectrum of outrage over the course of the movie. Her cause is outrage over the failure of local law enforcement to solve the murder of her daughter. In a year when the outrage of women has been a major cause, I expect Hollywood to give the highly talented McDormand the nod.
- Smart Pick: Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
She has a Screen Actors’ Guild nomination and three minor awards for her performance in this movie. There’s a lot of the gesture and the non-verbal in Hawkins’ portrayal, which can often attract the interest of the Academy.
- Dark Horse: Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
Margot Robbie burst into the national scene with her portrayal of the mistress-turned-wife in The Wolf of Wall Street, and the ways in which she allures Leonardo di Caprio’s character — and then shuts him down when he refuses to change into the sort of husband she demands were simply mesmerizing. Now she takes the character of Tonya Harding and inhabits it marvelously. She got a nomination from the Screen Actors’ Guild and the Golden Globes, and if you like the best example of sheer character acting, this is your pick.
Academy Awards Odds for Best Actor
- Favorite: Gary Oldman (The Darkest Hour)
Oldman won the Critics’ Choice, the Golden Globe (Best Actor in a Drama) and the Screen Actors’ Guild trophies already. He pulls off a fantastic Churchill and has decades of other work to cement his resume. Frankly, the odds on several books are so stacked toward Oldman that, while a win is almost guaranteed, your profit margins won’t be that great.
- Dark Horse: Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name)
This was a breakout performance by a newcomer, and he has taken home three minor awards for his performance as a young man caught up in a summer romance. As lyric as this was, it’s hard to see him beating out Oldman.
Academy Awards Odds for Best Picture
- Favorite: The Shape of Water
This film won at the PGA and the Critics’ Choice award. It is the most artistically rich of the nine nominees, and given that this film is likely to get shut out of the major acting categories, voting this film as the winner could be a way for the Academy to achieve balance among a year of solid films.
- Co-Favorite: Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
This film won the trophy at the Screen Actors’ Guild and is really neck and neck with The Shape of Water. The full-throated outrage from this film could be seen as a metaphor for the wider climate of the nation, and there are many years when “cause” films like this end up sweeping awards up by the boatload. I have to go with The Shape of Water in this category, because the Academy does like its sense of balance — and it does like to reward artistry in this category, but it won’t surprise me to see Frances McDormand & Co. coming back up on stage to accept this trophy either.