We’re still four months away from the 2020 Academy Awards, but with most of the Best Picture contenders having been released, the betting market is tightening up.
One big mover this week is The Joker which has been backed in to 4/1 third favourite in some places, behind market leaders Marriage Story and The Irishman.
Joaquin Phoenix is the latest to give us his take on the famous comic character, who has been played on screen with varying degrees of success by Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Jared Leto, and critical reception for his performance has been warm.
The film, which focuses on the origin story of the iconic crime figure, received its premiere at the end of August, and is set for a wider cinematic release on Friday October 4. The promotion of that release has no doubt helped to raise the movie’s profile and could explain the enthusiasm among Oscars punters for a piece of cinema that hasn’t received universal praise.
While Phoenix’s performance has been widely admired, there have been mixed reviews of the film itself, which portrays the Joker as a failed stand-up comedian who turns to a life of crime. Some critics have identified an unevenness in the plotting and there have been suggestions that audiences might not warm to this incarnation of the Joker, putting its box office success in peril.
That need not be an impediment to Oscars success, of course, but while Phoenix may have a realistic shot at the Best Actor Award, there are other contenders with stronger Oscars credentials.
The most obvious of these is The Irishman by Martin Scorsese, a movie that represents a labour of love for the veteran director, and which has already received rave reviews from critics. It is also loaded with Oscar-winners, most notably Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
The Irishman drifted in the market as other contenders caught the headlines over the summer but has been shortening since it premiered last week and is now available at 7/2 with some bookmakers. Surprise package Marriage Story can also be backed at that price, and there may still be some surprise competition from current outsiders, 1917 (10/1) which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and has yet to premiere, and Korean film Parasite (16/1) which has also been entered in the Best International Film category.