Brie Larson is no stranger to the Academy Awards judges, having scooped the 2016 Oscar for Best Actress for her stunning performance in Room and this time round, she is involved in no less than three movies to appear in the Best Picture betting markets.
Admittedly, two of those: Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame are unlikely to make the final cut of nominations announced at the end of January, but another contender, Just Mercy has more realistic Oscar potential, despite being currently priced up in double figures.
The movie is directed by a long time Larson collaborator, Destin Daniel Cretton, who also directed Short Term 12 (2013) and The Glass Castle (2017) and tells the true story of a black American wrongly convicted for the murder of a white woman.
The movie’s Oscar credentials are further boosted by the presence of Jamie Foxx, who won Best Actor for his role as legendary blues musician Ray Charles in Ray (2005), the same year in which he was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Collateral. Foxx plays Walter McMillian, the convicted man, while Michael B Jordan, perhaps best known for his roles in Creed (2015) and Black Panther (2018) takes on the role of McMillian’s attorney.
Just Mercy certainly ticks all the right boxes, with an excellent cast, an up and coming director and a story and theme that could not be more relevant to modern American audiences.
And when it made its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in early September, there was some positive critical reception, although it didn’t break into the prizes, being beaten by the likes of Jojo Rabbit, Marriage Story and The Parasite, all of which have subsequently been quoted at shorter prices in the Best Picture market, for which Just Mercy is rated as a 16/1 shot.
But while overhauling those contenders, along with the current market leader The Irishman (7/2) may be difficult, punters will note that Just Mercy is not set for theatrical release until the end of December, giving it a chance of entering serious contention if there is another round of critical praise.
And given the fact that none of the last four Best Picture favourites have landed the big prize, Just Mercy could have some appeal for punters looking for an outsider.