The Academy Awards, colloquially known as the Oscars, are a set of prizes that together form one of the biggest annual events and types of the novelty betting calendar. First held in 1929, the Hollywood star power of the Academy Awards attract an international television audience in the billions and their popularity with regards to novelty betting comes from the fact that many people hold strong views about the prizes.
There are 24 active Academy Awards categories, including seven that have been part of the program since the beginning.
- Best Actor in a Leading Role
- Best Actress in a Leading Role
- Best Cinematography
- Best Directing
- Best Picture
- Best Production Design
- Best Adapted Screenplay
Until the mid 2000s, most bookmakers framed Academy Awards betting markets on only what are known as the Big Six of Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Directing and Best Picture. But a combination of increased competition among bookmakers and increased knowledge among punters of the less mainstream prizes means that nowadays it is possible to get good odds about every one of the two-dozen Academy Awards races.
The awards season
They call it the Oscars race and it is very much a marathon, not a sprint. What is known as the awards season gets under way in late November or early December with the first batch of critics prizes. Most of them are announced before Academy Awards officials mail out nomination papers just before the Christmas holiday period. January sees the announcement of the Oscars nominees followed by some minor prizes – more critics awards – and some major ones, including the first lot of the guilds and the Golden Globes. February features the second batch of the guilds and the BAFTA Awards in London before the stars of the silver screen meet at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles for the Academy Awards.
Rating the precursors
When it comes to handicapping the Oscars race, there is no shortage of form but some of it is more of a hindrance than a help. And some of the best known Academy Awards precursors are some of the very worst when it comes to tipping the winners of the biggest prizes in the world of movies.
National Board of Review Awards
One could pick names out of a hat and have a better Academy Awards strike rate than the National Board of Review Awards. While it is not the aim of the New York City-based body to mirror the Academy Awards, the status of the National Board of Review Awards as an Oscars precursor should be under threat given their statistics in recent years. From 2002 to 2011 inclusive, the National Board of Review Awards have correlated with only 13 of the 60 Academy Awards handed out in the Big Six categories. The National Board of Review prides itself on its Best Film prize but only “No Country For Old Men” and “Slumdog Millionaire” have done the double twice.
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards owe their importance to their city of origin because, if they were judged on their ability to tip the Academy Awards, no-one would pay attention to them. They have hit just 18 of the last 60 Academy Awards in the Big Six categories and only picked one recent Best Picture champion – The Hurt Locker.
New York Film Critics Circle Awards
The New York Film Critics Circle Awards have correlated with 23 of the last 60 Academy Awards in the Big Six categories, including six of the last 10 in Best Directing. Usually they are the first of the critics groups to unveil their prizes, which means that their awards have a tendency to shape the early Academy Awards speculation and, of course, betting.
Critics’ Choice Awards
The Critics’ Choice Awards are the only critics prizes to which it is worth paying attention. Their award winners have matched up with 40 and a half of the last 60 Academy Awards in the Big Six categories, with their recent strike rate 70 per cent or higher in every major Oscars race except Best Actress in a Leading Role. They are batting at 45% in it.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts organises the BAFTA Awards, which generate great international media coverage because London is the epicentre of the media world and the event attracts a lot of big names, both British and foreign. The BAFTA Awards have matched 37 of the last 60 Academy Awards in the Big Six categories so their strike rate is fair but it is not as good as many of the people who report on the event would have the general public believe.
Golden Globe Awards
The Golden Globe Awards are the highest profile of the many Academy Awards precursors but, contrary to popular opinion, they are not the best guide to the Oscars. Despite having two cracks at Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Picture – the Golden Globes split these three categories into Drama and Musical/Comedy – the favourite event of Hollywood’s partygoers has matched just 42 of the last 60 Academy Awards in the Big Six races and that includes more Best Picture hits than misses. Because the fewer than 100 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association determine the Golden Globe Awards, their results are much less likely to correlate with the Academy Awards than those of the acting, directing and producing guilds.
DGA Awards, PGA Awards and SAG Awards
The various guild awards produce the Academy Awards form lines most worth following. Both the PGA Awards and the SAG Awards have Academy Awards strike rates of at least 70% over the last 10 years, while the DGA Awards have matched up with the Academy Awards all bar six times since the former came into being in 1948. Each of the last nine DGA Awards winners has gone on to win the corresponding Academy Award.
And the Academy Award goes to…
Do not buy into the hype surrounding the Golden Globe Awards because their status as the leading pre-Academy Awards event owes everything to their laissez-faire attitude – the stars love that they can let down their hair during the ceremony and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association sucks up to the big names, sometimes making baffling nominations that come across as a blatant attempt to fill attendance quotas – and nothing to the constituency of voters. Sometimes bookmakers overreact to the Golden Globe Awards and that is one of the times for punters to strike their Academy Awards bets.
There is absolutely no doubt that the results of the various guild awards are the ones worth following. Unlike the Golden Globe Awards, the DGA Awards, PGA Awards and SAG Awards are determined by many people who are Academy Awards voters as well. So it makes sense that they have a lot in common.