Martin Scorsese’s epic gangster movie, The Irishman, received its premiere in the US last Friday and after a positive critical reception, has seen plenty of support in the Best Picture Oscars betting.
The movie had been top of the pile with Academy Awards punters all year, but had been surpassed in recent weeks, first by Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and then by surprise package The Marriage, which premiered at the end of August and caught the imagination of critics.
Last week, The Irishman had drifted as far as 6/1 third favourite with most bookmakers but following this weekend’s premiere at the New York Film Festival, money has been coming in for Scorsese’s entry. At the time of writing, it has been backed in to 5/1 and 9/2 and in some places is as short as 4/1, sharing top spot in the market with The Marriage.
The movie was an obvious contender for Academy Award glory given the Oscars credentials of its leading players. Scorsese has ten Oscar nominations on his resume, including the Best Director Award for The Departed (2006), while the cast features Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, who between them have 17 Oscars nominations and four Awards.
The plot, focusing on the story of World War Two veteran Frank Sheeran and his association with notorious union leader Jimmy Hoffa, combines some of the elements that made Goodfellas (1990) a memorable contribution to the gangster genre with the high-stakes political intrigue of Oliver Stone’s JFK, with much of the action taking place in the 1950s and 1960s.
The impressive cast, which also includes Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano and Bobby Cannavale, and extended running-time (the movie clocks in at three and a half hours) also hinted at Oscar potential, but after the crucial thumbs up from critics we should expect The Irishman to continue to shorten, as it is shown at a range of film festivals over the next month or so.
Can anything halt the rise of The Irishman? The most obvious danger is Sam Mendes’ 1917 starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which is set for release in December, and is currently priced at around 12/1, while there may yet be some late support for The Last Thing He Wanted (16/1) a star-studded political thriller directed by Dee Rees that has yet to have its premiere.