2023 Oscars: Odds to win Best Director + Lead Acting

Recently, Vegas released the odds for the 2023 Academy Awards ahead of the precursor nominations released this week. In my first piece, I looked at the initial odds in the Best Picture race, and today, I look at the Best Director and Lead Acting categories.

Now for those who might not be familiar with betting, I will share some things that make it rarely easy to follow throughout our journey together this season. So, anything that has (-) minus odds is your favorite within that category, and if no one has the minus odds, the movie with the lowest (+) plus odds are the betting favorite. The lower the plus odds, the more Vegas thinks that film/person has a chance of being nominated.

Best Director

Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans) -160
Sarah Polley (Women Talking) +400
Damien Chazelle (Babylon) +600
Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All At Once) +900
Baz Luhrmann (Elvis) +1000
Todd Field (TÁR) +1100
Maria Schrader (She Said) +1200

Since 2000, 13 films have won the combination of Best Picture and Director. It has happened four times in the last ten years, with the most recent winning combination being Nomadland and Chloé Zhao in 2020. So it’s not entirely shocking that the odds are currently in favor of The Fabelmans and Steven Spielberg to do the same. However, unlike Best Picture, Spielberg has HEAVY odds in his favor. So for every dollar, you are betting on Spielberg to win Best Director, you only get $0.63 in return.

Sarah Polley coming in at number two won’t shock many of you, but her odds are my favorite to target this season. In my Best Picture piece, I mentioned that Women Talking at +1000 were insane odds not to pass up, and I have the same feeling about Polley in Best Director. I don’t think we see the same movie winning Director and Picture this year, and I feel pretty confident in Women Talking as being the movie in the number two spot in both categories.

We have quite an interesting bunch to round out that top tier of betting odds. That said, I don’t think any of the remaining directors really have a chance at winning. Chazelle seems to be locked into that top-five slot after the reactions of Babylon. Todd Field is another that I see his spot in the five locked up. Now again, mind you, this is to WIN the Oscar itself, but the odds currently have the combination of Kwan/Scheinert in that five, which again impresses me for the overall film considering this movie is a wild watch.

As far as Baz Luhrman is concerned, this would make me the most annoying person on planet earth if he were to sneak into the five. Maria Schrader, who directed the hell out of She Said, would give us two women in the five, and I am here for that.

Alejandro G. Inarritu (Bardo) +1400
Sam Mendes (Empire of Light) +1600
James Cameron (Avatar: The Way of Water) +1600
Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave) +1600
Florian Zeller (The Son) +1600

Here is a list of the next set of directors that are with the closest odds. Of the bunch, you have the notable Alejandro G. Inarritu and Park Chan-wook, who could be vying for the yearly spot that seems to go to a foreign language film director. Inarritu has a long history with the Academy, which helps cement his case.

Zeller and Mendes, both of whom are Oscar winners, have seen their films met with rather lackluster responses. I don’t see how either of these men enter that five. The reception to James Cameron’s eagerly awaited sequel to Avatar remains to be seen, but can magic strike twice? That will be something to keep an eye on.

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett (TÁR) +150
Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once) +550
Margot Robbie (Babylon) +550
Olivia Colman (Empire of Light) +600
Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans) +700
Viola Davis (The Woman King) +800
Ana de Armas (Blonde) +900

Blanchett is the leader in the clubhouse by a wide margin over Robbie and Yeoh. Her over +400 odds favorite shows that Vegas has a ton of confidence in not just the nomination but a win. Another strong showing for EEAAO, with Yeoh being tied for second in the odds. As I mentioned a few times, Vegas loves this film, and it shows. How much it will correlate with nomination morning remains to be seen.

Four of the five remaining actresses have a history with the Academy. Colman has the best odds, and while her performance has been said to be excellent in Empire of Light, the film hasn’t been seeing critical reviews that might hurt her chances, but it’s Oliva Colman. So nothing is off the table. Since the decision was made that Williams would be running in lead, Williams has seen her odds switch in the critic’s world, where she was one of the favorites to someone who could find herself on the outside looking in.

Viola Davis is an Academy Award-winning actress who gives a lights-out performance in The Woman King. Nothing would make me happier than to hear her name, and at her current odds, I like her position to possibly be in that five. Ana de Armas is someone that has an outside shot in this category. The polarizing film and filmmaker attached to her film in Blonde might be what holds back de Armas’s first nomination.

Danielle Deadwyler (Till) +1000
Naomi Ackie (I Wanna Dance With Somebody) +1200
Carey Mulligan (She Said) +1200
Florence Pugh (Don’t Worry Darling) +1800

Now for the rest of the pact, things get slightly interesting because Deadwyler being 8th best odds is one I wasn’t expecting. Deadwyler, in many opinions, should not just be nominated but should take home the award. If you are in the same mind frame, then throwing money on that +1000 is a risk worth taking. If you sprinkle $10 on her to win, you win $110. Next, Naomi Ackie is a wild card in this race as she is the icon Whitney Houston in I Wanna Dance With Somebody. It’s one of the only remaining films in this category yet to be seen. So, could she make a big enough splash to shake up the race? It’s not impossible to think she can. Sorry to Carey Mulligan and Florence Pugh, but it ain’t your year.

Best Actor

Brendan Fraser (The Whale) −160
Austin Butler (Elvis) +400
Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin) +600
Hugh Jackman (The Son) +900
Ryan Gosling (The Gray Man) +1200
Adam Driver (White Noise) +1200
Viggo Mortensen (Crimes of the Future) +1400
Timothee Chalamet (Bones and All) +1400

In my opinion, Vegas had done a really good job of mapping out the field in Best Picture, Director, and Actress. However, when we got to Best Actor, someone was drunk putting in these lines. So we can start at the top, where our top four seem somewhat of the consensus. You have Brendan Fraser, a HEAVY favorite, to take home the Oscar. Only he and Spielberg of the four categories represent minus money favorites.

Next, we have Austin Butler and Colin Farrell as the next closest betting favorites. Both are locked into that top-five nomination spot, with the latter being where I want to talk about next. So you have the field mapped out, and you do not want to throw money on Fraser, but you are also looking to hedge some money elsewhere in this category, and Farrell is where you should look. Again, you are talking about a movie that will have close to 6-8 nominations, including Best Picture. Farrell is beloved by many, and while his narrative might not be as strong as Fraser’s, he has had one heck of a year in film (with roles in The Batman and After Yang in addition to The Banshees of Inisherin).

We have Hugh Jackman, who, no matter what people say, is in the conversation for a Best Actor nomination. His odds reflect that, but he has less than a zero percent chance of winning, so let’s move on. Next, while I love Ryan Gosling, it is downright laughable that his name and this film made the list. Next, Adam Driver is the only guy (sorry, Timmy) on the bottom four who has a legit shot at a nomination. Driver is a two-time Oscar-nominated actor who is playing in a film that does have some Oscar buzz. In our Oscars Central group chat, we had a pretty good discussion about how Driver could pop up throughout the award season.

Bill Nighy in Living (+2000) and Daniel Craig (Glass Onion: A Knives out Mystery) made the list with a more realistic shot of hearing their name called. But noticeably missing are Daniel Giménez Cacho for Bardo, Paul Mescal for Aftersun, and Diego Calvo for Babylon. I expect the latter two gentlemen’s names to appear on the next set of odds when they are released.

I will be back next month and throughout award season, sharing with you the latest odds in Vegas surrounding the Oscars race. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the initial Best Picture odds out of Vegas, so comment below with either what you might bet on or where you think Vegas got it wrong.

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