A summer of important film releases has shaken up the betting markets for the 2020 Oscars and produced a new and unexpected favourite in the Best Picture contest.
The Academy Awards ceremony is still over five months away, but most of the leading contenders have hit the silver screen and we can expect the betting markets to tighten further throughout the autumn as critics, fans and punters appraise the likely winners.
And while many of the films at the top of the Best Picture betting have been there for months, Marriage Story has made a rapid ascension to the top, following its premiere on August 29.
Although it stars box office bankers Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, along with Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta and is directed by Noah Baumbach, who was nominated for a Best Screenplay Academy Award for The Squid And The Whale in 2005, the plot doesn’t immediately scream Best Picture winner. The movie tells the story of a protracted divorce between an actress and a stage director, and as a comedy-drama, it doesn’t appear to fit the template of Oscar winners.
But critical opinion can count for a lot, and Marriage Story has been showered with praise from critics since it was first seen at the Venice Film Festival. And while neither of the two leading actors have yet earned Oscars, Johansson has picked up numerous other stage and screen awards, while Driver, a rising star in Hollywood, earned a nomination last year for his role in BlacKkKlansman.
It also appears to be a well-timed release, coming out late in the summer, and will not be seen in cinemas, on a limited release, until early November, which will help to keep it fresh in the mind of Oscars judges. Before then, it will be shown at the New York and London film festivals in early October, which could provide a further boost of critical acclaim.
Marriage Story is the current 4/1 favourite with most bookmakers, edging out Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (9/2), which was released in the summer. The main threat to its Best Picture chances appears to be from The Irishman (6/1),Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic, which dominated this market for most of the year, and is set for a premiere on September 27.