Oscars 2021 betting: Paddy’s tipping guide to the 93rd Academy Awards

So you think you know films?

The Oscars 92nd Annual Academy Awards preview January 31, 2020


*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change

The thing about films is that they’re subjective. So while you’re ploughing through the critically-acclaimed section on Netflix shouting ‘RUBBISH!’ like Gemma Collins after a pornstar martini, unfortunately your opinion does genuinely matter as much as anyone sat on the judging panel for the Academy Awards.

And nobody can take that away from you.

The 93rd Academy Awards
April 21, 2021

But it’s little more than a cop-out in reality. While we can all sit here and criticise managers for not doing their jobs, it’s very hard to tell someone they’re not up to it for saying they did or didn’t like a film.

That’s where the Academy revel. They’ll tell you their opinion matters more and we all just have to deal with it. Good work if you can get it, isn’t it?


The thing is – the Best Picture award itself has become somewhat of a political tool in recent years – an equaliser of sorts.

Did you really think anyone in the world actually thought Birdman was a better film than Boyhood? Was Moonlight given the gong because of the mounting pressure on the Academy to recognise ethnical diversity? Is the Shape of Water actually a film or is it just an insight into Del Toro’s warped mind?

This year, the Netflix charge is coming thick and fast and there’s an inherent onus on the Academy to protect traditional distributors and production values.

Have the Academy built enough credibility in recent years to ensure they don’t come under fire for an obvious sabotage job on streaming services? Probably.

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They do have an out though in the shape of Nomadland starring the widely-adored Frances McDormand – a film about grief and the displacement of people from company towns in the American West.

Certainly, a film that benefits from its minimalism and intense characterisation with the horror of vast nothingness in the background, it doesn’t quite fit the mould of a picture that generally wins this gong.

For that reason and that reason only, it gets a pass at the prices. You should still watch it.

Moving from Borat to The Trial of the Chicago 7 is as big a plaudit for your durability as you can have, particularly as Sacha Baron Cohen was rewarded for his own Academy Award nomination off the back of it.

At the time of writing, it’s second-favourite in the betting and for good reason. It has somewhat of an understated ensemble cast – one that you didn’t know was such, but by the end of the perfectly edited runtime, you’re checking IMDB to see what else they were in.

Jon Voight Sacha Baron Cohen Netflix 2020 Golden Globes after party January 5, 2020

The issue with this film isn’t it’s pacing nor its lack of historical accuracy – but maybe the tone of humour used in the courtroom setting that, while maybe true to life, seems to send the viewer on a tangent from the clearly high-stakes battle on-hand.

Birdman is probably the only film to win Best Picture in the last 25 years that possessed comedic elements.

Just to touch on the no-hopers early, The Father is receiving praise from every corner of the globe, but the way it is directed makes it feel too much of a home video that rips you apart rather than a film the Academy would like to place on a pedestal – or perhaps more importantly – on a montage for the next half-century. Its direct comparison is Alexander Payne’s 2013 production ‘Nebraska’.

Maybe no film has suffered from the pandemic like Sound of Metal has, and I can already hear Bond and Denis Villeneuve enthusiasts calling me all sorts. But its story is so unique that the longer it was stuck in distribution hell, the less impactful its unique selling point became to audiences.

While Judas and the Black Messiah indirectly suffered from its own brilliance. The film doesn’t stand out in any way, shape or form and that’s largely down to how good the acting performances are. Stop and consider that for a second. Sometimes actors can be bigger than the films they’re in – it’s why nobody should ever cast Tom Hanks again, as we found out in News of the World.

Both Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield received Best Supporting Actor nods from the Academy while Dominique Fishback also received plenty of nominations elsewhere for her efforts. It’s intense, it’s brilliant but it’s ultimately not a fit, which is reflected in the price.

Promising Young Woman may have been the most important film released in this qualifying period for countless reasons. Not only did it commentate on toxic masculinity, but it put its money where its mouth was and allowed Emerald Fennell to really challenge audiences on the topic.

The Oscars 92nd Annual Academy Awards February 5, 2020

Unfortunately the outlandish nature of the narrative, and the ending which I certainly won’t spoil, also made this pseudo-realistic and undid all the ground work it so cleverly set out.

As a message and a statement, this is unrivalled – but unfortunately the execution just didn’t land the way it should have. That agency in experimentation is no bad thing though, and the industry could really benefit from that going forward.

That lands us at the feet of both Minari and Mank.

My favourite thing about the latter is that it plays with the Academy’s mindset. It’s basically an overly-long, arduous look at the life and times of Herman J. Mankiewicz with a particular focus on the production of Citizen Kane.

The same Citizen Kane which, still, eighty years on, is the Hollywood-endorsed symbol for traditional cinema. Its production company and distributor? Netflix.

Would it be too self-indulgent for the Academy to award the Best Picture to a film about how great the Academy is? No, if it were produced by a traditional filmmaking giant. But there is not a hope in this world that the Academy will concede a speech to a streaming service.

So – the former? It possesses all the perfect elements of the aforementioned Nomadland, except it’s better-produced, has even more obscure actors and puts the narrative at the forefront of its direction rather than being relegated to a mere byproduct of top-end acting.

Would it be quite a statement for alternative A24 to pick up a gong? Yes, but as we’ve seen with Parasite in the past if the message at its core is relatable enough, you don’t need to possess the typical traits of a blockbuster nor the false self-love of an Oscar-bait staple to land its biggest honour.

Minari is a sub-two-hour journey about South Korean immigrants who try to settle in the US in the 1980s – more importantly, in a part of the country not subject to the industrialisation of thought and liberty that was seen in less-rural environments. The symbolism is based around growth and with that injection of metaphor laced throughout, it ties up perfectly through tragedy, development and acceptance.

I suspect Lee Isaac Chung will have to form an acceptance speech of his own off at the back of it at 10/1, too.

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change

93rd Academy Awards – Best Picture shortlist

The Trial of the Chicago 7
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Father

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