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December 11, 2020, GMT+0000, 23:50 pm
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Renee Zellweger Tops Best Actress Oscars Odds as Judy Garland

red carpet between rope barriers and crowd

We’re still four months away from the 2020 Academy Awards, but with most of the leading contenders having been released, the Oscars betting markets have been tightening up this autumn, including the Best Actress market, which is currently topped by Renee Zellweger. 

Zellweger is no stranger to the Academy Awards, although her successes came almost twenty years ago, with nominations for Best Actress for Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) and Chicago (2002) and the Best Supporting Actress in 2003 for her role in Cold Mountain.

Having taken a ten-year break from acting, Zellweger returned in 2016 and has won praise for her performances in Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016) The Whole Truth (2016) Same Kind Of Different As Me (2017) and for her role in the Netflix series What/If.

But it is in taking on the daunting role of playing the late Judy Garland that Zellweger has entered Oscars consideration, in the Rupert Goold-directed Judy based on an award-winning Broadway and West End stage show. The film focuses on the last few months of Garland’s life but includes flash backs to earlier times in her childhood and career and doesn’t shy away from difficult themes including substance addiction and abuse. 

Judy received its premiere at the end of August and was released to US audiences at the end of September, but despite a positive reception from critics, but it hasn’t made any inroads in the Best Picture betting, with most bookmakers not even giving it a price, apparently rating it below such contenders as Dumbo and The Lego Movie 2.

But if the film hasn’t caught the imagination of Oscars punters, Zellweger’s performance certainly has and at the time of writing, she is the 10/11 favourite in the Best Actress market. Her lead isn’t as commanding as that enjoyed by Joaquin Phoenix in the Best Actor race after his performance in Joker, but she is the clear favourite right now.

Her nearest competitor is Cynthia Erivo, who stars as abolitionist Harriet Tubman in Harriet. The film was premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and Erivo grabbed the attention of many critics for her superb performance. She can be backed in the Best Actress market at 3/1 and there has also been some support for Scarlett Johansson (11/2) for her role in Marriage Story, the current second favourite in the Best Picture market. 

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