Predictions for the 95th Oscars from a bettor’s perspective

Predictions for every category for the 2023 Oscars from prop betting exprct Hartley Henderson.

Hartley offers up his annual Oscars predictions

Jimmy Kimmel returns to host this year’s Oscars for the first time since 2018. Hopefully he won’t have any issues like he did in 2017, when the wrong winning picture was announced after an envelope snafu that indicated La La Land won best picture when it was actually Moonlight. Only a few states and Ontario are legally allowing bets on the Oscars since laws in states like New York and Pennsylvania mandate that non-sports are off limits for betting, but the jurisdictions that are offering odds on the Oscars have lines for every single category.

So, let’s start with the top categories. All odds are courtesy of BetMGM as of March 7th.

Best Picture and Best Director

Once again, the preferential voting method will be used to choose the winner but it seems that is less important than the PGA Award which is still by far and away the biggest indicator of Oscars success. For a while it looked like this would be a competitive race between The Fablemans, Everything Everywhere, All at Once, the Banshees of Inisherin and All Quiet on the Western Front, but after big wins at the PGA Awards, the SAG Awards and its director winning best director, Everything Everywhere, All at Once now seems like a lock. For anyone that was able to snag the film at approximately 3/1 odds prior to the Golden Globe awards, they are laughing all the way to the bank. But the film will not lose at 1/12 odds.

Similarly, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert are also guaranteed wins for best director at the same 1/12 odds. The DGA Award Is the biggest predictor of success, save for Sam Mendes losing to Bong-Joon-Ho and Ben Affleck losing for Argo when he wasn’t nominated, so betting on anyone else is throwing away money.

Best Actor

Will Smith won this award last year, accepting the award in an awkward, teary fashion after he slapped Chris Rock for joking about Jaden Pinkett Smith earlier in the telecast, but hopefully this year’s telecast will show a winner smiling instead of making viewers uncomfortable. That may not be the case if Brandon Fraser, the 1/2 favorite for his performance in The Whale wins, since he was teary when he won the SAG Award. He also won the Critics’ Choice Award. But even though the SAG is the best predictor of success for this category, it looks like it will be a close race between Fraser and Austin Butler, who won the Golden Globe, BAFTA Award and several other awards leading up to the SAGs. There is indication that the SAG Award vote was extremely close while Butler’s win at the BAFTAs was by a far greater margin.  Actors portraying singers also do extremely well in this category, along with best actress, as Rami Malek proved with his win in Bohemian Rhapsody, Jamie Foxx in Ray and Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line and Joaquin Phoenix apparently just lost out as best actor for that same film. It’s also likely that many academy voters will identify more with a performance emulating Elvis Pressley than a morbidly obese teacher trying to reconnect with his daughter.

Prediction: Austin Butler will win at 7/5 odds

Best Actress

Like best Actor this is a race between two actors, Cate Blanchett for Tar (10/11 odds) and Michelle Yeoh for Everything Everywhere All at Once (3/4 odds). Blanchett won the BAFTA Award while Yeoh won the SAG Award and each actress won he Golden Globe Award for their respective categories. Yeoh seems to have more momentum heading into the telecast and if this turns out to be a Titanic type sweep for Everything Everywhere All at Once with the movie winning every major award it’s nominated for, it’s quite likely that Yeoh will be among those. The Oscars also love awarding actors who have been in the business for a long time but have yet to be awarded.

Prediction: Michelle Yeoh at 3/4 odds will take the Oscar.

Best Supporting Actor

This may be the biggest lock of the night excluding Best Director. Ke Huy Quan (1/50) has won every award excluding the BAFTA Award leading up to the Oscars and there is no reason to believe he won’t easily win the Oscar too. Brendan Gleeson won the award at the BAFTAs but that was his only win in an upset and while he could pull off a shock at 18/1 odds, he also faces Barry Keoghan for the same film meaning the two Banshees of Inisherin actors will split the votes.

Prediction: If you are a bridge jumper that has no issue winning 2 cents on the dollar, bet Ke Huy Quan at 1/50 odds.

Best Supporting Actress

Without doubt, the most competitive main award of the night. Three actresses have legitimate chances to win this award. Angela Bassett (23/20 odds) is the favorite after winning the Golden Globe and several other awards for her role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Kerry Condon is the 19/10 second choice after winning the BAFTA Award for her role in The Banshees of Inisherin, and Jamie lee Curtis is the 2/1 third choice after winning the SAG Award for her role in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Any of these can win and it’s been interesting to see the odds jumping back and forth between all of them.

The best predictor of success, without a doubt, however, has been the SAG Awards. In the last ten years the only supporting actress who won the Oscar that didn’t win the SAG was Regina King in 2018, but that was only because she wasn’t nominated for the SAG. Moreover, as I stated earlier, I think this could be a year where Everything Everywhere All at Once wins pretty much everything it is nominated in, which gives Curtis a big leg up.

Prediction: Jamie Lee Curtis will take the award at mouthwatering 2/1 odds.

Best Original Screenplay

The Writers Guild Award is the best predictor in this category of which film will win the Oscar. Two out of every 3 winners of this award since 2000 have won the Oscar and most times, when a film does not win the Oscar, it is because it wasn’t nominated. The favorite to win the award is The Banshees of Inisherin (2 to 3 odds) which won the BAFTA Award but wasn’t nominated for the WGA Award. The WGA Award went to Everything Everywhere, All at Once (11/10 odds). The other films are longshots at best. If the Academy wants to award The Banshees of Inisherin at all, this may be their only real choice but if they just want to give everything to the best picture favorite then the award will go to Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Prediction: The Academy will not want to snub The Banshees of Inisherin completely and the WGA Awards will have little impact on the voting since it was only awarded last week. Take The Banshees of Inisherin at 2/3 odds to avoid the complete snub.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Like Original Screenplay this looks to be a 2-horse race between Women Talking (2/5 odds) and All Quiet on the Western Front (9/5 odds). The WGA Award, Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award all went to Women Talking while the BAFTA went to All Quiet on the Western Front, which also won for best picture there.

Prediction: This is a real tough one. All Quiet on The Western Front will get its accolades as Best International Film, while Women Talking will get nothing if it doesn’t win here. That said, a lot of British academy voters will give preference to a film that took best picture at the BAFTAs. When it’s too hard to predict, always look at the odds and in a pick ‘em category I’ll take the 9/5 odds on All Quiet on the Western Front to prevail.

Best Animated Feature

Prediction: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is a sure thing at 1/50 odds. Let’s move on.

Best Original Song

Usually one of my favorite Oscar categories, whenever I get ready to predict this category, I log onto YouTube and listen to each song. I look at who sings the songs since more famous artists have an advantage. And lastly, I look at accolades given to the songs elsewhere. This year, I can honestly say I didn’t like any of the songs.

Naatu Naatu (1/5 odds) is an Indian song in the Telugu language for a Bollywood film called RRR. I found it kind of annoying but that’s just not my style of music. Nevertheless, it won the Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice Award. Lift Me Up (4/1 odds) by Rihanna for Black Panther could get some support due to her Super Bowl halftime show appearance but the song is slow and dull. Hold My Hand (6/1 odds) by Lady Gaga for the film Top Gun: Maverick is disappointing and if measured up against her Oscar winning song Shallow will have no chance.  This is a Life (33/1 odds), sung by Mitski with an appearance by David Byrne (lead singer of Talking Heads) is awful, but in a good movie. Applause (50/1 odds) from the movie Tell it Like a Woman was dreadful.

Prediction: This is a category to avoid, but put a small wager on This is Life may be worth it if Academy voters are like myself and say “I hate them all so I’ll just add to the sweep for Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Aside from that I would consider a small play on Lift Me Up just because of Rihanna’s growing popularity.

Best International Feature Film

What used to be a category with huge upset wins, the last few years have gone to all the big favorites. In fact, I can’t recall the last real upset in this category. This year, All Quiet on the Western Front (1/14 odds) fits that category.  Argentina, 1985 (6/1 odds) is given a shot at the upset after winning the Golden Globe as is EO, a Polish film at 12/1 odds and The Quiet Girl, an Irish film at 14/1 odds. 

Prediction: All Quiet on the Western Front is a sure thing, unless the Academy decides to reward Poland for their role in harboring Ukrainian refugees from Putin’s war.

Best Film Editing

The Film Editing Award (Eddie) is a great predictor of Oscar success, and they awarded the prizes to Top Gun: Maverick (8/5 odds) for Feature Film – Drama and Everything Everywhere All at Once (2/5 odds) for best Feature Film – musical or comedy.  The BAFTA Award went to Everything Everywhere All at Once and the Satellite Award, another important predictor for this category went to Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Prediction: Look for Everything Everywhere All at Once to win another award in a year the movie sweeps almost everything in which it’s nominated.

Best Cinematography

The American Society of Cinematographers Award is the best predictor for this category, and they awarded it to Elvis (7/2 odds). The BAFTA Award went to All Quiet on the Western Front (1 to 5 odds) and the Critics’ Choice Award went to Top Gun: Maverick which isn’t nominated.

Prediction: I’ll go with the Cinematographers Award and hand this to Elvis in a bit of an upset.

Best Production Design

The best predictor for this category is the Art Directors Guild Awards which hands out awards for contemporary film and fantasy film. Those awards went to Babylon (1/3 odds) for Period Film and Everything Everywhere All at Once (not nominated) for Fantasy Film. The BAFTA award went to Babylon. Elvis (7/2 odds) is an upset possibility. Avatar: The Way of Water (7/1) likely has no chance and is only at the odds it sits because the original Avatar won this category and All Quiet on the Western Front (8/1 odds) is given an outside shot too.

Prediction: Elvis could pull off the upset but with Babylon winning all the awards leading up to this I expect it will take the Oscar as well.

Best Sound

Top Gun: Maverick (1 to 8 odds) won the Audio Society Award and the Motion Picture Sound Editors Award but the BAFTA Award went to All Quiet On the Western Front (9/2 odds). That film also won the Sound Editors Award for foreign film. Elvis at 20/1 is the only outsider with a chance.

Prediction: At the larger odds I’ll take a chance on All Quiet on the Western Front to score the upset.

Best Score

The category seems to be between Babylon (1 to 2 odds) which won the Golden Globe and All Quiet on the Western Front (7/4 odds) which won the BAFTA. The Fabelmans at 8/1 isn’t completely out of it but I believe the early best picture favorite will be completely shut out.

Prediction: All Quiet on the Western Front will win the 2nd most Oscars on the night, including this category.

Best Documentary Feature

Navalny (2/5 odds), a documentary about Alexei Navalny, who challenged Vladimir Putin in a Russian  election and got poisoned and jailed for his efforts is the favorite. It won the BAFTA Award, the PGA Award and  is the clear favorite. Fire of Love (8/5 odds) about 2 French volcanologists that come together through interest in volcanoes and die during the 1991 Mount Unzen eruption won the international Documentary Association Award and is the only other film with an upset chance.

Prediction: Given the topic in a time where the Russia-Ukraine war continues, along with CNN’s ongoing feature of Navalny I expect the favorite to win this hands down.

Best Visual Effects

Prediction: Avatar: The Way of Water (1/20 odds) is a sure thing. Let’s move on.

Best Costume Design

Elvis  (5/8 odds) has won most of the awards including the Costume Designers Guild Award for excellence in period costume and the BAFTA Award while Everything Everywhere All at Once (5/1 odds) won the Costume Designers Guild Award for Sci Fi/Fantasy film. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2/1 odds) won the Critics’ Choice Award. Babylon (20/1 odds) and Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (25/1 odds) won nothing.

Prediction: I’m calling for an upset and am predicting Everything Everywhere All at Once to add to the statue collection.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Elvis (7/12 odds) won the BAFTA award, the Critics’ Choice Award and the Make-Up Artists and Hair Styling Guild Awards for Period Film while The Whale (6/5 odds), won best Special Effects at those awards. The others nominated have little chance. If it comes down to hairstyling then Elvis will win easily since the lead actor in The Whale is bald. If it comes to makeup then The Whale wins hands down.

Prediction: Elvis will win this award in a walk.

Short Films

As usual for these films I turn to my friend who is a self-described expert in these things and has a good record. His predictions are The Red Suitcase  (4/1 odds) for live action short,  Stranger at the Gate (3/1 odds) for documentary short although he claims a small wager on The Martha Mitchell Effect at 14/1 odds is worth a play also, and The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (1/3 odds) for animated short.

Read insights from Hartley Henderson every week here at OSGA and check out Hartley's RUMOR MILL!

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