For fans of film awards betting, it’s never too early to study the markets, and just under a year out from the 2020 Oscars, there’s already plenty of movement in the Best Picture betting.
One of the early favourites to scoop the prize at next February’s Academy Awards is The Last Thing He Wanted starring Anne Hathaway and Willem Dafoe. Paddy Power rate it as a 6/1 shot in the betting for Best Picture, close behind 3/1 favourite The Irishman, directed by Martin Scorcese and Stephen Soderbergh’s The Laundromat, which is available at 4/1.
Directed by Dee Rees, who earned a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for Mudboundin 2017, the film is a political thriller, based on a 1996 prize-winning novel of the same name by critically-acclaimed author Joan Didion. It focuses on a journalist, played by Hathaway, who stops working on coverage of the 1984 US Presidential primaries to care for her dying father, but who then becomes involved in an international arms dealing conspiracy. Dafoe has been cast as the father, with Ben Affleck as a high ranking US government official who falls in love with Hathaway’s character.
The Last Thing He Wanted has strong potential critical appeal, not least because Dee Rees is regarded as rising star in Hollywood. There is also a recent history of political and journalistic thrillers scooping the Best Picture award, with Argo winning in 2012 and Spotlight in 2015.
Affleck’s presence is also a good indicator of Best Picture potential. Having scooped a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Good Will Hunting in 1997, he won Best Picture as a producer on Argo, which he also starred in and directed. Anne Hathaway also has an Oscar to her name, having won Best Supporting Actress for Les Miserables in 2012, and Dafoe has been nominated four times, most recently for his role in At Eternity’s Gate in this year’s Academy Awards.
But the film, which is set to be distributed by Netflix, faces stiff competition from another leading contender with a journalist as lead character. Soderbergh’s The Laundromat, based on the real-life exposure of the Panama Papers, is packed with Oscars regulars, most notably three-time winner Meryl Streep, and has a more topical theme. It also boasts arguably more commercial appeal, thanks to the presence of Gary Oldman, David Schwimmer, Melissa Rauch and Antonio Banderas.
Also in the running for Best Picture is Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, which stars Leonardo di Caprio and is rated as a 7/1 shot by Paddy Power; A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood (9/1) featuring Tom Hanks as the beloved US television presenter Fred Rogers and Dexter Fletcher’s Elton John biopic, Rocketman (11/1).