2017 Oscars Betting: Odds and Predictions for Best Picture, Best Actor and More

by Kevin Roberts
on February 21, 2017

The 2017 Oscars – also known as the Academy Awards – roll out the red carpet on Sunday, February 26th, giving way to a glitz-filled night of silver screen celebration.

The excitement is building for the 89th Academy Awards, which is set to highlight the very best in film, while honoring some of the most impressive acting and directing performances. Everyone is gearing up for a fun and entertaining show, with late night star Jimmy Kimmel scheduled to lead the way.

Kimmel takes over as the face of the Oscars for the first time ever, but his wit and clever jokes have delivered rave reviews in two turns at the Emmys, as well as the 2008 ESPYs. Needless to say, Kimmel is ready for the big show, while everyone else is excited to see if the latest Oscars odds hold true for some of the top categories.

The Oscars can be a fun time on Sunday night (provided you’re not a fan of The Walking Dead), as all of the biggest names in Hollywood come out, either to honor the top nominees or for a chance to win, themselves. The Academy Awards are not just a celebration of the very best in film, of course, as they can make for fun entertainment gatherings and can even keep things interesting in the betting world.

If you’re one of the many that plans on doing any Oscars betting, be sure to check in with us first as we breakdown the latest odds and make our final Oscars predictions.

What to Expect

If you’ve been living under a rock or simply haven’t had a chance to dip your toe much into film in 2016, you may not have realized that Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone combined for one of the more versatile (and impressive) duos in Hollywood. Their pairing helped make La La Land one of the Oscars darlings, and it’s no shock that the film leads the way with a staggering 14 Oscars nominations.


This isn’t just a one-movie show, of course. While La La Land is favored in a lot of spots at the 2017 Oscars, it won’t run away with every main category. There’s even more than the actual awards, themselves, as plenty of celebrities will be out, whether just to take in the festivities, present awards or be part of the show.

Those that we’ll see on the Oscars stage in some capacity on Sunday include Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Amy Adams, Halle Berry, Samuel L. Jackson and Sting.

You know it’s a party when Sting shows up, but beyond the big names and entertainment, the core of the Oscars is paying respect to the top performances across the board in cinema. Join us as we target the popular categories and hand out our Oscars picks.

What Happened Last Year?

Spotlight won Best Picture, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu got Best Director, Brie Larson won Best Actress and Leonardo DiCaprio got Best Actor – a clean sweep in the Oscars odds department.

The 2016 Academy Awards were not about stunning upsets, but truly about performances that deserved to win and did. There were a few shake-ups, though, as Mark Rylance surprised with his Best Supporting Actor win.

Can We Expect Upsets?

Well, that’s what we’re here to discuss. Rylance did shock with an upset last year, so we know that upsets can happen. In fact, here’s a quick look at some of the biggest Oscars upsets we’ve ever seen.

They’re upsets in the end for a reason, but it does seem like we can usually see the writing on the wall. That being said, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and their 6,000+ voters dictate who ends up going home with the Oscar.

That can leave the door open to bias or voters falling in line to what the public (or oddsmakers) suggest, but the point is humans are making the call here, so upsets do exist and nobody outside of the voters knows who the winner is until they are announced on stage, live.

2017 Oscars Odds

You can roll with any online betting site, but one of the most trusted Oscars betting sites you’ll find continues to be Bovada. Bovada offers a slew of fun Academy Awards bets and also offer some fantastic odds. Let’s take a look at the top categories and respective odds as we hammer out some of our picks:

Best Visual Effects

  • The Jungle Book (-500)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (+400)
  • Doctor Strange (+900)
  • Kubo and the Two Strings (+3300)
  • Deepwater Horizon (+3300)

The Jungle Book is the heavy favorite to take away the Best Visual Effects honors, but this is certainly one of the bigger categories that can welcome an upset. It doesn’t hurt that Rogue One and Doctor Strange has some intense visuals, either. Star Wars is popular and iconic on its own, but Rogue One pushed the limits even for what the impressive franchise has already done.

Rogue One is in the running to stage the upset and their solid +400 odds suggest as much, however, if you want a true sleeper here, Doctor Strange’s spell-binding look at supernatural powers and additional dimensions. It’s a crazy good trip even if it doesn’t win this award, and if you want an upset, it’s as good as any.

That being said, The Jungle Book brought a classic to life with talking animals and made it all feel real. The betting numbers beg for a flier bet for Rogue One and Doctor Strange – and both would be deserving winners – but the winner feels obvious here.

Pick: The Jungle Book

Best Cinematography

  • La La Land (-500)
  • Lion (+300)
  • Arrival (+1000)
  • Moonlight (+2000)
  • Silence (+3300)

What film is a pure spectacle, from beginning to end? We’re talking sheer entertainment, folks. The winner for Best Cinematography is usually captivating in all regards and does a job at pulling at every emotional string in your mind and body.

That’s precisely why La La Land is the front-runner, as Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling drove this song and dance to the very top. We have three very viable threats in Lion, Arrival and Moonlight, but this is La La Land’s race to lose.

Pick: La La Land

Best Costume Design

  • La La Land (-170)
  • Jackie (+120)
  • Florence Foster Jenkins (+1800)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (+2500)
  • Allied (+5000)

When you’re looking for the winner of Best Costume Design, think period piece, think unique and think out of this world. It can be one or all of those things, which is precisely why the nominees are just as eclectic as the category, itself.

La La Land leads the way in so many spots that it wouldn’t be shocking to see it upset here, while Jackie brings that period piece magic that past winners like The Great Gatsby, The Artist and he Aviator have displayed.

This feels like one of the more wide open Oscars categories in the entire batch, but with the odds so tight, we’re leaning to the historic and powerful Jackie.

Pick: Jackie

Best Original Screenplay

  • Manchester By the Sea (-135)
  • La La Land (-110)
  • Hell or High Water (+1600)
  • The Lobster (+4000)
  • 20th Century Women (+6000)

This nod goes more to the film that presents the best pure story and carries it out just as you’d hope. Acting, directing and visual effects aside, what is the best story at the Oscars?

On the surface, we certainly have some gems here. If we want something fresh and unique, we’ll test the waters with The Lobster, which certainly made us think and was clever and witty in all the right spots. It probably won’t win, but at +4000 it might deserve a cursory bet.

Manchester By the Sea and La La Land are your top favorites here, and the odds are insanely tight. This could be a good spot for Manchester By the Sea to take home a win.

Pick: Manchester By the Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Moonlight (-700)
  • Arrival (+700)
  • Hidden Figures (+700)
  • Lion (+1500)
  • Fences (+3300)

Your Best Adapted Screenplay nominees present the top films that were originally based on another source – usually a book or play.

This is a troubling list beyond Moonlight, which is the early (and heavy) favorite in a strong list of worthy contenders. Fences is a fun bet with +3300 odds, while Lion is also raw, emotional and ultimately powerful.

Arrival has the perfect blend of suspense, intrigue and raw emotion, but this one feels like a slam dunk for Moonlight – even though the Academy didn’t seem to initially feel it belonged here. The win might feel odd, but it will be a win for Moonlight, nonetheless.

Pick: Moonlight

Best Original Score

  • La La Land (-1500)
  • Moonlight (+900)
  • Lion (+1200)
  • Jackie (+1500)
  • Passengers (+5000)

Anything but La La Land for Best Original Score will be a massive upset, while all four of the contending bets carry playable odds. They don’t feel like fitting contenders against the layered and powerful La La Land, however, which really demanded and ultimately got the best out of a dynamic duo in Stone and Gosling.

Moonlight and Lion are decent cursory bets, Jackie is worth a five-second stare and Passengers has virtually no chance. Ultimately, this should be one of the easiest calls of the night.

Pick: La La Land

Best Animated Feature

  • Zootopia (-600)
  • Kubo and the Two Strings (+300)
  • Moana (+1500)
  • My Life as a Zucchini (+6600)
  • The Red Turtle (+6600)

Zootopia is the clear leader in a sea of solid contenders, but it’s been cleaning house all year, winning an Annie Award, while taking home a Golden Globe, Critic’s Choice award and Producers Guild award. It’s only fitting for Zootopia’s reign at the top to end with an Oscar.

Pick: Zootopia

Best Documentary

  • O.J.: Made in America (-900)
  • 13th (+450)
  • I Am Not Your Negro (+1600)
  • Fire at Sea (+2500)
  • Life, Animated (+5000)

O.J.: Made in America recounts the life and trial of former NFL star O.J. Simpson, and does a masterful job of painting lines between race, relationships and what we know to be the truth. While deserving of praise, it’s worth wondering if this near-8-hour endeavor is actually a feature, and not more a series.

It’s possible voters could steer away from it – as great as it is – and center on I Am Not Your Negro, instead. I Am Not Your Negro takes us on a time warp, connecting the dots between the past and present when it comes to racial roadblocks and Civil Rights.

I Am Not Your Negro is probably the most deserving, true documentary effort in this list, but O.J.: Made in America is more iconic and arguably better pieced together – especially considering its length. It might not truly fit the category, but it’s still the winner.

Pick: O.J.: Made in America

Best Foreign Film

  • Toni Erdmann (-125)
  • The Salesman (+105)
  • A Man Called Ove (+700)
  • Land of Mine (+6600)
  • Tanna (+6600)

Toni Erdmann has been the leader for a while now, but The Salesman remains right behind it and could be ready to pull ahead at the Oscars. Asghar Farhadi won here in 2012 and The Salesman could get him another winner at the Oscars.

This one very much figures to come down to the top two options, while A Man Called Ove looks like a sneaky sleeper. Land of Mine and Tanna haven’t garnered quite as much acclaim and would be long shots in this category.

Pick: Toni Erdmann

Best Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali – Moonlight (-700)
  • Dev Patel – Lion (+600)
  • Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water (+1400)
  • Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals (+1800)
  • Lucas Hedges – Manchester By the Sea (+1800)

Now we get to the good stuff. Jeff Bridges was certainly ridged and convincing as an aged sheriff in Hell or High Water and Michael Shannon was a surprise in Nocturnal Animals. But those strong performances can’t survive run-ins with Ali or Patel, who without a doubt take the cake in this category.

House of Cards alum Mahershala Ali displayed both sides of a drug dealer in an emotional turn and seems to be the leader for Best Supporting Actor. He could be forced to brace for impact, however, as Dev Patel is convincing as an adult who finally finds the parents he was separated from as a child. Lion as a whole didn’t get enough respect – at least it seems that way – and paying respects with a nod to Patel’s even performance could make up for it. He’d be our upset play here, but this feels like Ali’s moment.

Pick: Mahershala Ali

Best Supporting Actress

  • Viola Davis – Fences (-3000)
  • Michelle Williams – Manchester By the Sea (+800)
  • Naomie Harris – Moonlight (+1500)
  • Nicole Kidman – Lion (+3300)
  • Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures (+5000)

The winner for Best Supporting Actress seems a bit more obvious, as Viola Davis is set to run away with this award. Octavia Spencer was strong and convincing in Hidden Figures, but it was difficult for her to stand out too much in a pack of impressive performances there. Nicole Kidman has a similar story, as there were many powerful runs in Lion and it’s arguable she didn’t leave the biggest, most lasting impact.

You can say the same for Naomie Harris and Michelle Williams, who were fantastic, but there might not be enough there to upset Davis, who rocked Fences, along with Denzel Washington. Davis wears authentic pain throughout the film and is arguably the one that leaves a bigger mark than the great Washington.

Pick: Viola Davis

Best Actor

  • Casey Affleck – Manchester By the Sea (-160)
  • Denzel Washington – Fences (EVEN)
  • Ryan Gosling – La La Land (+2000)
  • Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge (+4000)
  • Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic (+10000)

Unlike a year ago when Leo was both due and deserving of Best Actor, this feels like a stacked field that – were it not for clear front-runners already – we’d have to admit it’s fairly wide open.

The younger Affleck is still hard to buy as a serious actor at times, but he does seem to have paid his dues and delivered a layered turn as an uncle taking on more than he thinks he can handle in Manchester By the Sea. Of course, why should Affleck freely run away with this thing when a bitter and tortured Denzel Washington moves mountains in Fences and Ryan Gosling delivers a versatile performance in La La Land?

Andrew Garfield was heroic and defiant in Hacksaw Ridge and Viggo Mortensen was completely underrated and possibly even underappreciated as an unorthodox father in Captain Fantastic. It’s difficult to see Gosling upset as Best Actor in a musical, however, which probably leaves this race down to Affleck and Washington.

If we’re going off of raw acting power and impact, Denzel does feel like the winner. Throw in EVEN odds and Hollywood getting it wrong in the race game last year, this feels like a spot for Washington to thrive. We’re calling a mild upset here.

Pick: Denzel Washington

Best Actress

  • Emma Stone – La La Land (-650)
  • Natalie Portman – Jackie (+450)
  • Isabelle Huppert – Elle (+900)
  • Ruth Negga – Loving (+4500)
  • Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins (+4000)

The legendary Meryl Streep won’t win here, but you can’t help but pay homage to a great one that keeps trucking on, and does so in impressive fashion. A similar sentiment can be tossed out for Negga and Huppert, who certainly leave a strong impression in Loving and Elle, respectively.

However, this is ultimately a two-woman race, with Natalie Portman far behind Emma Stone in second place, despite a classy and graceful turn as the iconic Jackie O. Portman was good enough to pull up close behind Stone, but who truly had the best overall performance among starring actresses? That goes to Stone, who carried emotion, wit, song and dance to a new level in the boundary-pushing La La Land. We wouldn’t be mad if Portman got the nod here, but Stone has been the clear leader for months and we see no evidence to overturn this verdict.

Pick: Emma Stone

Best Director

  • Damien Chazelle – La La Land (-3000)
  • Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester By the Sea (+1000)
  • Barry Jenkins – Moonlight (+1000)
  • Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridged (+4000)
  • Denis Villeneuve – Arrival (+5000)

Best Director is one spot where we can see a surprise, but it doesn’t feel like this is the year we see it. Arrival was probably too sci-fi to earn the nod, Mel Gibson is probably still looked down upon for his public hate rant from several years ago and Barry Jenkins and Kenneth Lonergan – as strong as their directing was – may end up cancelling each other out.

Ultimately, the difference between Chazelle and the other Best Director nominees is vision and portrayal. There were other movies that had more raw power or emotion or possibly left a lasting impact, but none was as effortless, whimsical or flowed as well as La La Land. It was new, vibrant, fun and real. Truly, it was a show and Chazelle’s work deserves credit.

Pick: Damien Chazelle

Best Picture

  • La La Land (-700)
  • Moonlight (+550)
  • Hidden Figures (+1800)
  • Manchester by the Sea (+2000)
  • Fences (+6600)
  • Lion (+6600)
  • Hacksaw Ridge (+7500)
  • Arrival (+7500)
  • Hell or High Water (+12500)

How Best Picture is voted can be arguable, but in the end the Best Picture of the year should be the best overall movie, or possibly the film that you immediately think of when you look back at the past year’s cinematic works.

The one that has been constantly praised and stands out the most – by far – continues to be La La Land. The music, the dancing, the direction, the acting and the story all collectively give fans of cinema a perfect blend of comedy, drama and music. It’s a complete form of arm and even pushed boundaries along the way.

There’s little doubt La La Land is the clear favorite here and if you want a safe bet during the Oscars, this might top the list. Of course, the big question in most of these categories – and specifically in this one – is which options have a truly realistic chance at staging an upset.

Hell or High Water is an emotional, wild ride on both sides of the law, Arrival is look at communication and fear, Hacksaw Ridge is about survival and conviction, Lion is about recovering loss and connection, Fences is about the past and coping, Manchester By the Sea is about loss and responsibility, Hidden Figures unveils sexism, racism and views on intellect and Moonlight delivers a heart-wrenching story of growth, raw emotion and self discovery.

The point? The Oscars Best Picture nominees are littered with layered, emotional messages and ideals, and they’re all carried out masterfully. The one good thing about this category is it does seem like the Academy got it right. Every film here is certainly deserving and true fans of cinema wouldn’t mind seeing a huge upset, just because they all deserve their moment in the light.

For true potential upsets, though, we’re probably only looking at Fences, Moonlight and Lion. They all had amazing acting, top notch directing and really got you in the feels. La La Land did all of that, too, but also made the process of watching entirely enjoyable.

Only one movie made you laugh, cry and wonder and also delighted your eyes and ears, just the same. La La Land isn’t the most conventional Best Picture, but this year it is the most deserving. Our favorite to upset is Lion just for the journey and severe truth behind that painful journey. However, La La Land is front and center for Best Picture and the Oscars don’t figure to surprise all that much in 2017.

Pick: La La Land
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