Betting on the Academy Award for Best Picture

the gamblerThe lure of gambling is strong with some people, the desire to pit your predictive skills against someone else and defy the odds to pick the proverbial dark horse and cash in. There are tons of movies about it, including the recently released remake of The Gambler.

The slate of 2015 Academy Award nominees for Best Picture don’t include any directly about gambling, but on the other hand isn’t Whiplash about musical competitions that’ll define a career? And isn’t Birdman about a self-referential comeback play that redefines an actor’s life with great drama?

Both of those, succeeding big at your career, reinventing your life because of a great win, are the real lure of gambling, cinematic or otherwise. Not the “hey, I won $20 in the Super Bowl pool!” but “I nailed the spread and turned my $500 into $7500” or “I just won $30k at the poker tournament!”, the life changing guesses, the understanding of the odds or even just plain old good luck. The horse race, the dogs, the football pool, the Friday night poker game, the college ladder.

Heck, it was only last week I was watching the rather droll Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter, starring 60’s Beatles-wannabe band Herman’s Hermits. The entire film is about them hustling for money to pay the fees to entering their greyhound Mrs. Brown into various dog races throughout England. Mildly amusing but by no means the only film about gambling from that or any other era of cinema.

the oscars graphicWhat I haven’t seen, however, are films about betting on films. Yes there are movies about the business of cinema — the ever-delightful Singing in the Rain, previous Best Picture winner The Artist, masterwork 8 1/2, and the astonishing Sunset Blvd all come to mind — and you could certainly argue that all filmmakers are gamblers (we can only imagine the choice words that the producers of such epic bombs as John Carter, Heaven’s Gate, Speed Racer, Sahara and the infamous Adventures of Pluto Nash said when they realized that their personal cinematic gambles hadn’t paid off!)

Oh, is this where I admit that I like and own a copy of “John Carter” and also enjoyed “Sahara”? 🙂

Fortunately, the world of betting has us covered with the 2015 Academy Awards, and it’s fascinating to look at how the odds makers are listing the spread on the different awards to be given out at the show. Consider the odds posted for which movie will win Best Picture:

1/4: “Boyhood”
8/1: “The Imitation Game”
9/1: “Birdman”
10/1: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
12/1: “Selma”
25/1: “American Sniper”
25/1: “The Theory of Everything”
30/1: “Whiplash”

This means that the smart money is on Linklater’s film Boyhood and that the least likely film to win the 2014 Academy Award for Best Picture is the intense Whiplash. With so many different awards given out at the end of a year and beginning of the next — including the Denver Film Critics Society awards, in which we honored American Sniper with our own Best Picture award — the odds are based on the additional honors a film receives prior to Oscar night, but…

But what do you think? How many have you seen of these and which do you think deserves the honor of Best Picture this year? I’m thinking that it’s a remarkably strong lineup but I can see American Sniper or Selma taking the award, though Boyhood is a pretty safe bet nonetheless.

Now, are you willing to bet on your Best Picture pick for the win?

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