25th Mar2021

Netflix’s ‘Mank’ leads the Oscars scorecard, but ‘Nomadland’ favoured for Best Picture

by James Smith

Netflix’s “Mank” emerged with 10 nominations to lead the charge at the 93rd Academy Awards, but Searchlight Pictures’ “Nomadland” and Focus Features’ “Promising Young Woman” are the movies to spot in the bid for best picture honours according to film critics and Oscars pundits. The buzz surrounding these two films for the prestigious award spurred on account of the nods both films received in all requisite major categories – such as best director, acting, editing, so on. Coveted recognition that defines a movies’ overall excellence in and amongst its peers.

Separately, it’s also somewhat fitting that in a year of change, progress, diversity and awakening of social conscience, the Academy, for the first time in the history of the Oscars, recognises the two films directed by women with consideration for best director honours too. Chloe Zhao for “Nomadland” and Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman” have both earned nominations for best director at the same time, as well as seeing their respective films make the shortlist of contenders for best picture.

However significant these nominations may be in the context of Oscars’ history, the race for best picture is arguably still wide open though. “Nomadland” and “Promising Young Women” may be seen by the film industry’s cognoscenti as the most sympathetic to win best picture for various reasons, but their challengers, of which there are several noteworthy films, can’t be discredited in the running. At least, that’s the case most certainly made by bookmakers across numerous betting sites, where the odds market highlights six of the eight movies nominated to win the best picture award with a set of odds that imply reasonable probability of winning.

Where critics and odds makers agree is on Zhao’s “Nomadland”, as it emerges as the undisputed favourite in the betting. Having done well in the parade of awards ceremonies that lead up to the Oscars underscores its favourable odds. As per Bovada Sportsbook check their review before placing some action “Nomadland” is the movie to spot for early betting picks, priced at -275 – a country mile ahead of the rest of the field.

However, odds makers don’t hold “Promising Young Women” in quite as high regard as critics do. Fennell’s film is priced as the third-best bet overall, with odds of +1200 with Bovada – a good distance away from “NomadsLand.”

Then there are challengers such as “The Trial of the Chicago 7”, “Minari”, “Mank” or “Judas and the Black Messiah” to consider, all of which have a realistic shot to win, if encompassed by slightly larger odds that range from +475 to +2000 at Bovada.

Netflix’s “Mank”, priced at +1600 with Bovada to clinch best picture, is on the higher-end of the contender scale according to the odds, but it could prove the value bet. After all, with the most nominations (10 nominations), the streaming giant’s film clearly has made a profound impact on the Academy’s board. The film missed out on an original screenplay nomination, but Director David Fincher’s work is recognised with a best director nomination.

The historical film, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”, is priced as the second-best bet with Bovada at +450, despite Aaron Sorkin getting the snub in the best director category. Sorkin’s snub is likely one of the reasons critics aren’t putting as much stock in the film winning best picture as they are with “Nomad Land” and “Promising Young Woman.” However, receiving best director and best picture nominations simultaneously isn’t in of itself a guarantee of success in either category. There’s historical evidence to that effect, and odds markets appear to be taking a page from those previous Oscars where films such as “Argo” and “Green Book” both won best picture in spite of the films’ respective directors being overlooked.

Moreover, it’s easy to see how “The Trial of the Chicago 7” could appeal to voters for best picture honours. It’s a timely piece of work that bears uncanny significance and relevance to today’s current climate. It’s relatable, if you will. What began as an unprecedented public health crisis, turning life upside down and shaking society to its core, quickly transcended into an extraordinary worldwide existential crisis. The fallout bringing to the forefront the disenfranchisement and disenchantment within society that has long been ignored or overlooked by the governing elite. And that led to historical social upheaval and unrest as massive protests against racial injustice, socio-economic inequality and police brutality erupted in many countries around the world.

“Minari” (+1200) could prove an unexpected winner of best picture this year, so too could “Judas and the Black Messiah” (+2000). The other nominees for best picture are “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics) and “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios), but with odds of +6000 and +6600, respectively, the pair are the quintessential longshot bets. Should either “The Father” or “Sound of Metal” win, it would mark a stunning upset of not only the projections made by critics but also the odds market.

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