Everyone loves a horse race, even when it’s conducted as a back-and-forth battle in another industry. In this case, it’s the Academy Awards, or Oscars, set for March 27.
New Jersey gamblers, the nation’s first players allowed to bet the Oscars in 2019, have received bang for their speculative buck.
Like horses moving at the top of the stretch, Jessica Chastain and Nicole Kidman prepare to barrel down the lane as favorites for the Best Actress Award at attractive betting odds.
It’s the best betting race on the entire circuit.
Kidman and Chastain in tight Academy Awards betting race
Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” is no longer an underdog. The movement comes following Chastain winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for Female Actor in a Leading Role. She is +125 at DraftKings Sportsbook and +130 at Caesars Sportsbook. It continues to be the most powerful surge on the betting board, up from an earlier +800.
Kidman, “Being The Ricardos,” also is +130 at Caesars, making the race a dead heat. Kidman, as on Monday morning, was +150 at DraftKings. Kidman and Chastain are now competitive dance partners.
Originally, Kidman and Kristen Stewart, “Spencer,” were the leaders. However, Stewart, who Princess Diana, is now +450 at DraftKings.
The Chastain surge is surprising to many in the entertainment industry, including the actress herself. She had worked on a project for 10 years and simply hoped that Tammy Faye Bakker, whom she portrayed, would be proud of it.
The Hollywood community certainly was.
And the books reacted accordingly.
Evaluating Best Actress odds at NJ sportsbooks
Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told PlayNJ the Best Actress category has been an excellent competition so far.
“Usually there is somebody running away with it, just like with the Best Actor,” said Avello. “But this year, there has been nobody moving way ahead. It’s still up for grabs, everybody has won an award.
“The Chastain-Kidman race is a real good one now.”
Being a movie aficionado, Avello shared his thoughts on the other three nominees.
He didn’t think Olivia Colman “was all that great” in “The Lost Daughter.” However, he says “Kristen Stewart did a better job in Spencer.”
Then there is Penelope Cruz in “Parallel Mothers.”
“Penelope Cruz was good, but not a lot of people have seen it,” said Avello.
Academy Awards: Best Actress odds at NJ sportsbooks
A closer look at other Academy Award races
While Chastain made a big move in the Best Actress category, other races seem to be experiencing a post- SAG Awards shake-up.
At DraftKings, “CODA” now has the third shortest odds at +900. It means “West Side Story” at +1100 is now fourth. However, both movies still sit well behind favored “The Power of the Dog” at -225 and “Belfast” at +330.
It’s a similar story at Caesars Sportsbooks as the top-four films are identical, with slightly different odds.
The movie not only shot up on the odds board after the SAG Awards, but its star Troy Kotsur reached a milestone as a supporting actor.
After becoming the first deaf actor to win an individual nomination earlier this year, Kotsur became the first deaf actor to win a SAG Award, taking home the best supporting actor trophy.
“We moved Troy up to second for the supporting actor at +120,” Avello said. “Kodi Smit-McPhee (now -155) was a much bigger favorite last week. That’s what happens. There is a major award ceremony and all of that seems to snowball into one another.”
Best Actor odds at NJ sportsbooks
Will Smith and Jane Campion remain Oscar betting favorites
Along with some movements from the underdogs, a couple of favorites are pulling away in high-profile categories.
Actor Will Smith and director Jane Campion have solidified their prohibitive betting odds. Smith, “King Richard,” is -400. In the Best Director race, Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog,” is like a runaway train at -1000.
Steven Spielberg,” West Side Story,” sits a very distant second at +1000.
Avello said he didn’t believe the Directors Guild of America Awards March 12 will shake the odds too much, as a number of major events have already placed themselves into the price picture.
The next wave of action has already sprung up in categories like visuals, screenplay, features and audio.
Many of Avello’s early January nominations held up under betting scrutiny. No favorites have floundered badly and the underdogs were moved up soon after being recognized in some early awards ceremonies.
“When we weren’t taking bets on this, it was fun putting up the lines for the players at the Wynn (in Las Vegas) and letting them have a competition at the parties,” Avello said.
“But now that the house is involved, you are trying to put up a line that’s good for the house and for the players. You end up staying on top of it more. This is an interesting competition in that it doesn’t take place on the field,” said Avello.
This includes paying attention “trying to get a feel about what the Hollywood community is thinking.”
Several thousand people vote on approximately 1,000 movies to determine the awards. There are no stats, just intangibles. It’s Hollywood rewarding itself.
Even with that, several bettors most likely latched onto Chastain at a price last month.
PointsBet joins the Academy Awards betting party
PointsBet is now participating in the Academy Awards betting party. And like with Caesars, most of the odds are similar to DraftKings. However, there are a couple of wrinkles for bettors looking to shop.
“CODA,” for instance, is +1200, up 200 basis points from DraftKings. For gamblers who want to parlay the movie’s SAGA awards, this is an excellent price.
Any nugget on price changes reminds veteran bettors of how the “wiseguys” once used to travel all the way across Las Vegas, looking to find a half-point. Some also did it to try middling the books on a game.
It was laborious work.
Now, just to go the app and compare.
Shopping for Best Actress odds
Getting back to the Best Actress race, there figures to be value all the way to the finish line.
True to the horse-racing analogy at the top of the story, each of the favorites will keep the other’s betting odds high enough to be wagered.
Some of these categories will be tight, and exciting, for New Jersey gamblers.
You can bet on that.