Nominations for the 2020 Academy Awards will be confirmed on January 22, and over the next three months we can expect a frenzy of speculation and rumour, which is good news for the clued-up Oscars punter who has been carefully monitoring the markets.
But for the time being, after a flurry of releases and premieres in August and September, the Best Picture market has again taken on a settled look, with one candidate dominating the betting, having been restored to its place at the top of the market.
Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, an epic thriller based on the story of an associate of controversial union boss Jimmy Hoffa, was an early favourite in the Best Picture betting, dominating the market for most of the first half of the year as the prospect of seeing Al Pacino and Robert de Niro reunited on screen once again caught the imagination of fans and punters.
But Scorsese’s epic was overshadowed in the Best Picture conversation during the summer, first by the inevitable hype surrounding the latest Quentin Tarantino movie, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and then by positive reception given to Marriage Story, an unlikely Best Picture contender starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, which wowed critics when it was unveiled at the Venice Film Festival at the end of August.
Marriage Story was soon propelled to the top of the betting by Oscars punters, where it remained throughout September, while Once Upon A Time In Hollywood also overtook Scorsese’s movie.
But the tide began to turn in Scorsese’s favour at the end of September, when The Irishman had its premiere at the New York Film Festival, and the overwhelmingly positive critical reception it has received has lifted it back to the top of the Best Picture betting.
In fact, since returning to the top of the pile, the movie seems to have more momentum behind it, having been cut from 9/2 and 4/1 to 3/1 and even 5/2 with one bookmaker, ensuring that it remains the strong favourite going into the second half of the autumn.
Favourite-backers should be wary, however. None of the last four winners of the Best Picture Oscar: Spotlight (2015) Moonlight (2016) The Shape Of Water (2017) and Green Book (2018) went into the ceremony as the favourite, so Marriage Story (4/1) remains a serious contender.