Most of the serious contenders for the 2020 Best Picture Academy Award have had their premieres, which means that film critics and Oscars punters have had the chance to reach a conclusion on their respective chances, and the Best Picture betting has tightened in recent weeks.
Surprise package Marriage Story is the current favourite, after making a big impression at the Venice Film Festival. Punters latched onto its Oscar potential and backed it in to 4/1, though it shares favouritism with Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, after that long-time market leader also earned positive reviews last weekend when it was finally unveiled at the New York Film Festival.
But with nearly four months to go before the nominations are announced at the end of January, there is still time for another contender to make a big splash, and the film with the biggest potential to disrupt the Best Picture betting market is Sam Mendes’ 1917.
Mendes made a big splash at the Academy Awards with his first film, American Beauty (1999) which won five Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture and to date, his work, which has included Road to Perdition (2002) Revolutionary Road (2008) Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015) has attracted an impressive 23 Oscar nominations and eight wins.
Those are solid Academy Award credentials, and production company Dreamworks knows how to position a film to maximum effect when it comes to the Oscars, so the fact that this movie is set for release on Christmas Day, less than a month before the Oscar nominations close could be significant.
And though the details of the plot remain a closely guarded secret, the film itself is likely to have significant Oscars appeal. Set towards the end of World War One, it will tell the story of two young soldiers who are given a difficult mission to deliver a warning to a British army unit, which includes the brother of one of the heroes. The premise suggests echoes of Saving Private Ryan (1998) which picked up five Oscars at the 71st Academy Awards, and although there is an all-British cast, it features several established stars who are well known in Hollywood, including Colin Firth and Mark Strong.
Currently priced at 11/1 with many bookmakers, 1917 clearly has Best Picture potential and it would be no surprise if that price shortened over the next three months.