There was a time when even the most casual moviegoer pretty much knew about all the movies being bandied about for Academy Award consideration. But then the influx of Indie films came into vogue and some even get a mass release while others are quietly shown in art houses and in smaller hipster venues where they sell chai tea instead of Coca-Cola and trail mix in lieu of popcorn.
Well, I cannot honestly tell you I have seen every movie up for Oscar consideration but I will pick out a few that should pass the litmus test when it comes to the Hollywood zeitgeist and those critics whose opinions seem to matter. Now just keep in mind that you don't have to like the movie to make a wager on the movie. So with that in mind, let me peer through my crystal ball and give you my winners in the three main categories.
Now I will grant you that 12 Years a Slave will probably cop this prestigious honor because it is said to be a heartrending portrait of a black man sold into slavery (I almost said against his will, talk about your redundancies) as well as - a black man being sold into slavery. That topic alone may engender enough white guilt to win all by itself particularly with the uber rich and famous who would sooner skip their Cristal mimosa rather than be deemed politically incorrect.
However, I am going to go with something much more contemporary even though American Hustle is set in the 70's. The Academy Awards odds are much more appealing on AH than the 4/9 odds being quoted by WilliamHill.com on 12 Years a Slave. If you haven't seen it then see it. Christian Bale positively owns this movie but he does not steal it because performances by the voluptuous Scarlett Johannson and the slinky, saucy Amy Adams captivate in mesmerizing fashion. If I'm ever going to get hustled, I am more than willing to get fleeced by this triumvirate.
Bet American Hustle at 13/2 in your Oscar odds at WilliamHill.com.
Obviously 2013 was a banner year for epic acting performances because when I saw Christian Bale a longshot at betting odds of 125-1 in your Oscar odds, I gasped. Okay, I didn't gasp but I definitely arched an eyebrow. Now oftentimes one movie cleans up and it appears 12 Years a Slave may be ripe for the kiss and cry moments that will pervade this year's Oscars.
And if I am right then allow me to introduce you to a British actor who has more awards and nominations than Dennis Rodman has bad ideas. Chiwetel Ejiofor is no newcomer but he is just now making a splash on this side of the pond. He has already been nominated for Best Actor at the BAFTA Awards (the British version of the Oscars) and seems a lock to finally be recognized by the American film intelligentsia that doesn't want to look silly ignoring this master thespian any longer.
Bet Chiwetel Ejiofor at the intolerable price of 4/9 at Bet365.com. Hey, it beats tearing up a ticket.
The offshore sportsbooks are already crowning Cate Blanchett with the Best Actress Oscar and they will make you pay dearly if she misses. Blanchett is currently listed as a 1/5 favorite but that doesn't mean she's a lock. But she's pretty damn close.
However, we will have to find another superior performance from another actress that will at least give us a fair return on our money. With that as our agenda we will turn to the sublime Ms. Emma Thompson for her role in Mr. Saving. Banks. She's been nominated for Best Actress three times and won for her role in Howards End. But that was back in 1992 and this stellar actress has only gotten better. Time for another gold statue Emma.
Bet Emma Thompson at 20-1 at Bet365.com.