“Eeeeeeasy money” – Betting On The Oscars

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Oscar-despair-2It’s well documented that an Oscar win can boost the earnings of a film, turning a bones-of-its-arse indie darling into a reasonably lucrative Hollywood vehicle. By why should those indie filmmaking fat cats get all the cream? Can’t us working stiffs profit off of Oscar wins too?

Maybe.

In an irresponsible, and possibly impoverishing, experiment, Gorilla has extracted all of its funds, and taken out a small loan with a massively punitive interest rate, to bet on every category going, all 24 of them. But we’re not betting on what we think will win (what do we know about films? We’re Gorilla), we’re going with what the experts think. No, not critics trying to get retweets. We’re talking about the people who really have something to lose if they get it wrong, the people with skin in the game when it comes to the names being pulled out of the golden envelopes. Bookies.

Going by William Hills’ favourites (other turf accountants are available, I just happen to have their app on my phone) we have put £1 on every favourite in every category and we’ll see how the bookies’ favourites tally up with the Academy’s choices. We’ll also find out whether awards betting is a good way to lose money fast.

NOTE: I recognise that for our American readers gambling is illegal in most areas. I’m sorry you don’t live in a more free country. In the UK gambling is wholly legal everywhere. #Freedom

Without further ado, here are the categories:


Best Picture

Nominees: Murican Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory Of Everything, Whiplash.

Bookies’ favourite: Birdman 3/18 (Potential Returns not incl. stake = 61p)

Birdman Michael Keaton
So the bookies are going with universally acclaimed showcase of late-era-Keaton (got a lot of time for him), Birdman. Suprising. I would think it’s a bit leftfield for the Academy. FWIW, I think Grand Budapest is going to take it (4th favourite at 40/1). Anderson’s a well established Hollywood player so they might just feel more comfortable giving it to a bit more of a ‘name’.

Personally, I thought Grand Budapest was above average, but not well above average. While visually fantastic, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was all style over substance and the general archness of the film got in the way of empathising with the characters (which I find is the case with most of his films. Except for Moonrise Kingdom. That was top.) It’s a good film, I’m glad he made it, I’d watch it again and I’m glad it got the attention it did. But best film of 2015? Nah, son.

At the back of the pack is 8th, i.e. least, favourite, Selma. I’m not that interested in seeing this, mainly because I’m quite prejudiced against biopics about great people doing great things, which is a bit #problematic when you’re dealing with a film about Martin Luther King. Awkward. But anyway, I find they’re usually quite hagiographic, airbrushing out the darker shades of the person’s character leaving a, um, whiter than white (again, #problematic) portrait.

Selma best picture oscar contender HOWEVER, the Academy is fairly fond of historical true stories, plus they might want to make a statement after all the accusations of racism, so at 1/150, I’m going to take a punt on this. That’s right, I’m placing another bet in the same category even though the odds are massively against it. Because that’s what a bad, desperate gambler does.

I’ll be honest, I’ve hardly seen any of the best films in the list this year, it’s not like it’s my job is to know about film. Oh, wait… But I’d love to see the award go to Whiplash. I saw the film recently having not been massively excited about the premise; young drummer gets worked over by a teacher, basically. What a fool I was. The film blew me away. An incredibly tense thriller which isn’t about life and death, but feels just as vital. Possibly the best music film I’ve ever seen (Purple Rain in close second though). It looks at greatness and what a person must risk and sacrifice in order to try and achieve it.

A lot of music films that touch on ‘greatness’ are biopics, so through all the sacrifices the main character makes you’re always thinking, ‘well I know they make it in the end, so walking out on your family/going to prison/turning down a good deal was totally worth it’. In this film, about a fictional musician, we have no idea if they will achieve greatness, or anything even close. So you fear that they’re making horrible, horrible life ruining decisions.

Also, I find most music films (or art films in general) about greatness emphasise the emotion and feeling and natural talent of the artist. As if their eventual triumph is a fait accompli because they can knock out ‘Chopsticks’ on a piano the first time they use one at the age of 3 days old. Whiplash, on the other hand, focuses on the hard work involved in trying to achieve greatness. Hours upon hours of lonely, frustrating, infuriating, physically draining practice. Something usually avoided in biopics, as the filmmaker wants to skip over that so we can get to the hits and hear Ray Charles play What’d I Say.

Aside from the different approach to looking at greatness, Whiplash features two superb performances; Miles Teller as the obsessive young drummer and J.K. Simmons as his even more obsessive teacher. Simmons’ performance has been widely lauded (see the best supporting category below), and rightly so. It’s a huge performance. Literally, the guy’s arms are fucking massive. Not sure if he’s been on the juice, but damn, dude looks hench as fuck.

Best Actor

Nominees: Steve Carrell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (Murican Sniper), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Eddie Redmayne (Theory Of Everything)

Bookies fave: Eddie Redmayne 1/4 (Returns = 25p)

Theory of everything eddie redmayne

Eddie Redmayne – Theory of Everything

Haven’t seen it. Very physical performance from what I understand. Might fall into that ‘get fat/thin/ugly and get a prize’ bracket. Am I being unfair? Probably, but I need to write something here. Not really bothered who wins this. Keaton? Yeah, why not, he seems like a nice fella. Also, I still don’t fully believe that’s Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher. Incredible transformaiton. He might be in with an outside shot in a “That’s Charlize Theron in Monster? No way!” kind of way.

Best Actress

Nominees: Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (Theory Of Everything), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

still alice julianne moore

Still Alice – Julianne Moore

Bookies’ fave: Julianne Moore 1/50 (Returns = 2p)

2p?! Are you fucking kidding me? Jeez, that Ferrari purchase is looking less and less likely. But I shouldn’t be surprised, Julianne Moore is perhaps the most reliable actor alive today for turning in incredible performances (R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman). I’ve also just realised I’ve been pronouncing Marion Cotillard’s name wrong. I thought it was Coll-i-tard. What an idiot.

Best Director

Nominees: Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson), Morten Tyldum (Imitation Game)

Bookies’ fave: Alejandro G. Iñárritu 8/13 (Returns = 61p)

Unsurprisingly, the fave for best film (Birdman) sees its director as fave for best director. Richard Linklater is second favourite with Boyhood, a.k.a. 12 Years A Slave 2: Linklater’s Vision. Again, I’m feeling the Academy could opt for Anderson. At 40/1, I fancy a flutter.

Best Actor In A Supporting Role

Nominees: Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), J.K Simmons (Whiplash)

Bookies’ Fave: J.K. Simmons 1/50 (Returns = 2p)

whiplash J.K. Simmons

J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Not much scratch to be made here by the looks of it. Robert Duvall though, aye? He’s one of those people I’m always a bit surprised to find out is still alive, but am glad they are (not that I wish death on other elderly actors, but you know what I mean). Duvall has never won an Oscar in spite of being nominated seven times. Could this be one of those ‘let’s bung him one before, y’know, he *makes croaking sound*’. At 50/1 though? It’s a very outside shot. Yeah, fuck it. Let’s do it.

Best Actress In A Supporting Role

Nominees: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman), Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)

Bookies Fave : Patricia Arquette 1/66 (Returns = 1p)

Patricia Arquette Boyhood

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Why even bother? 1p. FFS. So what else to say. Keira Knightley nominated for an Oscar? Er… I don’t think she’s a bad actress as such, but Oscar material? And I see Laura Dern who was in that there Jurassic Park is doing well, good for her. Nice that she’s getting some decent work. FYI, the last place favourite is Oscar-hog (as in she hogs them, not a comment on appearance or eating habits or anything) Meryl Streep at 40/1. Maybe the Academy members will vote for her out of habit?

Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees: Ida, Leviathan, Wild Tales, Timbuktu, Tangerines

Bookies’ Fave: Ida 4/9 (Returns = 44p)

Now for Best Foreign Language Film, which couldn’t possibly be judged with a merit equal to Anglo-sphere, English language films, amirite? Ida’s favourite, but not overwhelmingly so, which means this is a great opportunity for me to lose £1. Although, Gorilla was rather fond of Ida, which is as good an endorsement as any film can get.

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler

The-Grand-Budapest-Hotel-580

Bookies’ Fave: Grand Budapest Hotel 8/13 (Returns = 61p)

Really? Grand Budapest? Nah. The story was the weakest element of the whole film. Dialogue was ok, but nothing special either. Not feeling the Bookies’ choice on this one. Reckon Birdman could lose out on Best Picture and pick up Original Screenplay as compensation (yeah, that’s how it works).

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, The Theory Of Everything, Whiplash

Bookies’ Fave: Imitation Game 2/5 (Returns = 40p)

I reckon Murican Sniper could be a dark horse here. The book was a big hit in America, and as most of the Academy voters are American, that may have an effect. Priced at 22/1 I’ll take an extra punt on that. Did you know Whiplash is an adaptation from a short film? Fun fact.

Best Animated Feature Film

Nominees: Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, How To Train Your Dragon 2, Song Of The Sea, The Tale Of Princess Kaguya

Bookies’ Fave: How To Train Your Dragon 2 2/7 (Returns = 28p)

I have nothing to say about any of these films themselves, but:

  • Why aren’t animated films in the main best picture category? Separate categories for best picture, animated feature, foreign language, and documentary, this is like boxing belts or something! Lump them all together I say and they can have a battle royale. Although maybe keep docs separate.
  • Something something something Lego Film.

Best Live Action Short Film

Nominees: Aya, Boogaloo And Graham, Butter Lamp, Parvaneh, The Phone Call

Bookies’ Fave: The Phone Call 4/9 (Returns = 44p)

Check out our review of Butter Lamp to see what we thought of the bookies’ third favourite film!

Best Animated Short Film

Nominees: The Bigger Picture, The Dam Keeper, Feast, Me And My Moulton, A Single Life

Bookies’ Fave: Feast 1/4 (Returns = 25p)

I’d like to see The Bigger Picture win this one, because we featured their new project recently and they’re London based and you’ve got to support your local animators, right? Bookies’ have got them at 6/1, so I’m going to have a flutter on them because I have the filmmakers’ email addresses and can ask them to reimburse me if I lose a quid. Only fair.

Best Documentary Feature

Bookies’ Fave: CitizenFour 1/6 (Returns = 16P)

Best Documentary Short Film

Bookies’ Fave: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 1/5 (Returns = 20p)

Cinematography

Bookies’ Fave: Birdman 1/7 (Returns = 14p)

Costume Design

Bookies’ Fave: Grand Budapest Hotel 1/10 (Returns = 10p)

Film Editing

Bookies’ Fave: Boyhood 2/5 (Returns = 40p)

I don’t know how you can accurately judge this. Surely you need to know what kind of a mess the editor had to deal with when looking at the shooting script? I can see Boyhood being a bit of a bitch to edit (probably why it’s favourite). But can you see Grand Budapest Hotel deviating much from the initial intention? Hmmm. Maybe I just don’t understand this award category. Probably that.

Makeup And Hairstyling

Bookies’ Fave: Grand Budapest Hotel 1/5 (Returns = 20p)

Music – Original Score

Bookies’ Fave: Theory Of Everything 4/7 (Returns = 57p)

Music – Original Song

Bookies’ Fave: Glory 2/9 (Returns = 22p)

Sound Editing

Bookies’ Fave: ‘Murican Sniper 4/9 (Returns = 44p)

Sound Mixing

Bookies’ Fave: ‘Murican Sniper 15/8 (Returns = £1.87)

Wide open field with this one, with Whiplash in close second. I remember when I was watching Whiplash saying to the guy next to me “Mate, nailed on for best sound mixing, right?” and he said “Right. Nailed on for best sound mixing, mate.” Nah, I’m only kidding. I know absolutely fuck all about this category.

Visual Effects

Bookies’ Fave: Interstellar 1/4 (Returns = 25p)

Production Design

Bookies’ Fave: Grand Budapest Hotel 1/9 (Returns = 11p)


So those are the categories and the odds, and the grand total for potential returns based on the bookies’ favourites is…………………………………… £8.63. It’s like they play the percentages and want to minimise their losses or something!

Well that’s pretty boring. So like a real gambler I’m going to try and beat the odds, because I don’t know what’s good for me. So here’s some “gut feeling” – i.e. based on nothing – bets:

Best Picture: Grand Budapest 44/1 + Selma 150/1

Best Director: Wes Anderson 44/1

Best Supporting Actor: Robert Duvall 50/1

Best Adapted Screenplay: ‘Murican Sniper 22/1

Best Animated Short Film: The Bigger Picture 6/1

Yeah! Now we’re gambling, baby!

Total stake: £30. I’ll be giving live reaction to the winners, and my winnings (losings), tomorrow.

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About Author

David Price is the editor of Gorilla Film Online and co-writer/co-producer of MarsCorp and The Bunker podcasts. He has made a number of short films and has watched more than 12 feature films. Writers/con-artists can contact him at daveprice at gorillafilmmagazine.com

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