Full 2021 Academy Awards Betting Guide


The 2021 Oscars take place in Hollywood this Sunday night as the premiere awards show once again holds the attention of the movie-going public. For some, it’s just a night to enjoy the glitz and glamour. But for others, it’s a way to score big by wagering at Oscars betting sites, and we’re here to help with this Academy Awards betting preview.

It’s been one of the oddest years in Hollywood history, with few major releases actually making into theaters because of the world health crisis. But that hasn’t stopped many outstanding contenders from stepping forth into the fray to call themselves Oscar contenders. Every new week seemed to bring someone new into the award picture.

A big reason for this phenomenon was the presence of the streaming sites on the Oscar map with a vengeance this year. Sites like Amazon and Netflix took advantage of the situation and sent out their contenders straight into people’s living rooms, and many of them built their momentum on home audience word of mouth. You’ll see when we get to the nominees that many are those that have had very little imprint in traditional theatres but yet are well-known to fans.

Handicapping the Oscars

It feels like the major awards might be a bit more settled than in years past, with the exception of one or two that could go either way. For betting purposes, it might be hard to find value in the glamour categories. Luckily, the Oscars is a long show, and that means a lot of trophies will be handed out, all of which you can bet.

Most top gambling sites will let you make moneyline wagers on just about any of the categories being televised on Sunday night.

If you go through the complete list of awards, you might find that there is more value in betting the Oscars than you have previously expected. That’s why you should go in-depth if you want to come out with a profit.

In the following article, we’ll give you the groundwork you need with this in-depth Oscars preview. We’ll go through each of the awards on the slate and take a quick look at the nominees. And we’ll also give you an idea of who we think will win each race, while also telling you if you might be better off taking a chance on some value picks here and there.

How Moneyline Wagering Works

We realize that some of you checking out this article might be more familiar with the movies than with online gambling sites. But you came here because you wanted to try using your knowledge of the films and the Oscars to win some money. To that end, we’re here to give you a quick explanation of how that works.

When you log onto an entertainment betting site to wager on the Oscars, you’re going to see odds that are either preceded by a plus sign or a minus sign. These are the moneyline odds for each award, and they’re what you’ll be using to determine how much you might win from each bet. They’re based on a foundational bet of $100, and here is how they work:

  • If the nominee’s odds are preceded by a plus sign, it means you have to bet $100 to win that amount
  • If the nominee’s odds are preceded by a minus sign, it means you have to bet that amount to win $100

For example, let’s say that nominee X has odds of +350. That means that a $100 bet on that nominee will earn you $350 in profit if they win. But there is no rule that you have to keep your bets at $100.

Most gambling sites will offer you limits that are much higher and lower than $100. The moneyline establishes the ratio of bet to dollars won. You can use that ratio to figure how much you would for any bet of any size you might choose to make.

2021 Oscar Categories

Best Visual Effects

Film Odds
Tenet -600
The Midnight Sky +275
Mulan -1600
Love and Monsters +2500
The One and Only Ivan +2800

Christopher Nolan’s movies are known for their effects, and Tenet was no different. It probably helps him a great deal that his movie actually did receive a high-profile release. None of these other films, with the possible exception of Mulan, really made much of dent on the wider scene.

The Midnight Sky did achieve a kind of cult following, however. But the question remains whether or not any of the cult overlaps with Academy voters. If so, it could benefit from votes by those who believe that the lower-budget charm of it all was more impressive than Tenet’s high-priced effects.

The Pick:

When in doubt, go with the value. Let’s see if The Midnight Sky has what it takes to knock off Tenet, because at nearly 3 to 1, it’s a much more sensible way to play this one. Tenet might win, but it won’t do much for your pocketbook, which is why an upset pick is so enticing.

Best Sound

Film Odds
Sound of Metal -4000
Mank +900
Soul +900
Greyhound +2500
News of the World +2500

There is a reason that Sound of Metal is the heaviest favorite on the entire board. If you’ve watched the film, you’ll know that the film does an amazing job with both sound and lack of it. On top of that, it’s an extremely well-reviewed film that didn’t have too many detractors.

The other films have some things to recommend them as well. News of the World had the kind of showy action scenes which put the spotlight on sound, and Mank utilized it in nifty ways as well. Soul will probably have to pin its hopes on its animation nomination.

The Pick:

You’re not going to be able to make much back for your by going with The Sound of Metal, but it’s the only logical choice here. You can take your cents on the dollar, or you could throw money away on a long shot that won’t win. Probably better off passing on this one completely.

Best Production Design

Film Odds
Mank -900
Ma Raineys Black Bottom +600
Tenet +900
The Father +1600
News of the World +1800

Mank is shown in black and white, so you might say that it has a built-in edge when it comes to production design in capturing its Old Hollywood era. It is a heavy favorite here, but it might not be unbeatable. The best thing going for it is that it’s up for numerous awards, and is going to be an underdog in most, so here is where it can get a little gold.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom captures the feel of an old-timey recording studio, the claustrophobia and sweat of it all. Tenet has the effects and the big budget pushing it forward. Probably the only one you can throw out is The Father, which is more of an actor’s piece.

The Pick:

The Academy has to find some way to honor Mank for taking a look back into Hollywood’s past, even if it’s a skeptical one. Ma has some other chance to score, as does The Father. Go with the favorite here at 1-9.

Best Original Song

Film Odds
Speak Now -160
lo Si +250
Husavik +275
Fight For You +2000
Hear My Voice +2500

This is an interesting category this year, with a three-way dance at the top muddling matters for bettors. Even the fourth choice, “Fight For You,” could garner some votes. If you really wanted to do go for the price, that would be the way to go.

“Speak Now” is the favorite, and Leslie Odom is a nominee for supporting actor who could get a win in this way, since he’s a big long shot in the other category. “Io Si” is a little-known song from a little-known movie, but it comers from Oscar darling Dianne Warren. And “Husavik” comes from a wackadoo movie, but it featured prominently in it.

The Pick:

When it’s this tight, it’s probably a wise idea to go with the longest odds of the group. And “Husavik” is, in its way, the centerpiece of the movie that features it. That’s where you should be putting your money come Sunday.

Best Original Screenplay

Film Odds
Promising Young Woman -550
The Trial of the Chicago 7 +250
Minari +1400
Judas and the Black Messiah +3300
Sound of Metal +3300

The Oscar rules for what makes a screenplay original are a bit wacky, which leads to voters having to compare apples to oranges in this category. Chicago 7 and Judas are both based on true stories, so it’s hard to call them original. But Chicago poses a threat here, because this might be another case where you can honor a movie that comes up short elsewhere, and because Aaron Sorkin is another one of those Oscar faves

Watch out for Minari as a 14-1 third choice here. That movie has a lot more backers than people realize. But if nothing else, Promising Young Woman is definitely an original creation, as polarizing as it might be to people.

The Pick:

There could be an upset here, as Promising Young Woman might not be the taste of some of the fustier Oscar voters. That’s why Chicago 7 could sneak fast. It may be on odd fit for this category, but it’s here nonetheless and should win.

Best Original Score

Film Odds
Soul -2500
Mank +600
Minari +1200
Da 5 Bloods +2500
News of the World +2500

If only you could bet on Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and not the films, you’d have a sure thing. Ross and Reznor did the work on Mank, the second choice. And, with Stephen Colbert’s bandleader Jon Batistse, they also composed Soul.

Soul is a movie that just bops around engagingly from scene to scene, and the score is responsible for that. Still, there is a chance that there’s some kind of animus against animation, or possibly a voting split for Ross/Reznor scores. In which case, an upset is possible.

The Pick:

While it’s likely that Soul wins, you shouldn’t pay that premium for what’s not a sure thing. Monk is probably a better bet, all things considered. Or this might be the place to go for your long shot play, specifically with Da 5 Bloods, which was robbed on the whole of many rightful nominations.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Film Odds
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom -400
Pinocchio +400
Hillbilly Elegy +700
Emma +1400
Mank +1400

Ma Rainey manages to tell some of its story with its makeup, especially when it comes to the lead character, which gives it a strong head start in this category. Pinocchio’s artist in charge does have two wins in the category in the past, so that could be a factor there. Still, there could be a bit of weariness with a tale that’s been told so often.

As for the others, Hillbilly Elegy is a movie that doesn’t have a lot of fans, although you can’t blame that on the makeup. Emma certainly stands out for the era-appropriate Jane Austen looks. Mank probably is on the outs here.

The Pick:

This is one that you don’t need to overthink. And getting a quarter for every dollar you bet isn’t that bad for a sure thing. It’s all Ma in this one.

Best International Film

Film Odds
Another Round -1500
Quo Vadis, Aida? +600
Collective +900
Better Days +2000
The Man Who Sold His Skin +3300

Another Round has everything leaning in its favor. Its director got a nod in the Best Director race, which none of the others in here can say. In addition, the lead, Mads Mikkelsen, is well-known to US audiences.

Is there any upset possibility in this one? Most likely not, although Collective tells a timely story of corruption. But this is one that you can probably take to the bank.

The Pick:

Again, this is one where you have to decide whether it’s worth it to go through the motions to make the wager. But you can use the small winnings to fund other bets. In any case, Another Round coasts here.

Best Film Editing

Film Odds
The Trial of the Chicago 7 -120
Sound of Metal -110
Nomadland +750
The Father +2200
Promising Young Woman +3300

Normally, Nomadland would stand out as a third choice at 7 to 1, considering how well represented it is in other categories. But the movie moves at its own leisurely pace, which doesn’t lend itself to noticing the editing. The top two choices certainly do.

While Chicago 7 is certainly snappy in how it bounces from scene to scene, it feels like something that has been done before. This is another case where Sound of Metal gets points for originality. That could put it over the top in this tossup.

The Pick:

Two favorites go at it toe to toe, neither one of which provides much value. Go with Sound of Metal here for the win. You’ll get a little less than even money for your win.

Best Documentary Feature

Film Odds
My Octopus Teacher -275
Time +275
Crip Camp +700
Collective +900
The Mole Agent +3300

Remember the frenzy surrounding March of the Penguins? Well, My Octopus Teacher has that same kind of sea-creature, feel-good vibe around it. It’s a film that will make you smile, which, in this day and age, is priceless.

More than that though, you’re dealing with a movie that has swept all the predictive awards leading into the Oscars. It’s not that the other films aren’t worthy. But they’ll have a hard time overcoming that sort of momentum against them.

The Pick:

Take advantage of the fact that many other bettors might not too much about Documentary Feature. Here is a sure-thing winner at odds that aren’t that restrictive. Pounce on this one for a modest but definite profit.

Best Costume Design

Film Odds
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom -500
Emma +325
Mank +900
Pinocchio +1600
Mulan +3300

This is very similar to the production and makeup categories, as might be expected. And, again, Ma Rainey is leading the pack. You definitely feel like you’re looking at some sort of archival feed back to that era when you watch that movie.

Emma is the main threat in here to Ma’s supremacy in this category. On the one hand, the outfits definitely stand out, and the film’s star, Anna Taylor-Joy, has since become a major superstar. But the movie itself didn’t make too much of a dent on the public.

The Pick:

It doesn’t seem like Emma has enough juice to pull off an upset in this one. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom figures to be the major player in most of these categories all night long. Rack up another win for it here as the chalk.

Best Cinematography

Film Odds
Nomadland -350
Mank +225
News of the World +1400
Judas and the Black Messiah +1600
The Trial of the Chicago 7 +2000

There are times when you’re watching Nomadland that it feels like a painting brought to life. Moments like that make it a tough out when it comes to the cinematography category. Quite frankly, it’s a surprise it isn’t more of a favorite here.

Mank has the black and white factor going for it, but that doesn’t seem enough to derail Nomadland. Of the others, News Of The World seems like the one that could gain somehow. But it most likely comes down to the top two.

The Pick:

Nomadland should be tough in here and it could be the start of a landslide for it down the stretch of the evening. Mank won’t have enough to hang with it in this category. Go with the favorite for sure.

Best Animated Feature

Film Odds
Soul -4000
Wolfwalkers +750
Onward +1400
Over the Moon +1600
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon +2500

Quick, if you can name what any of the other four films here are about besides Soul, you win the prize. It was a rough year for animation, as might be expected. Big-ticket releases largely steered clear in the hopes that they could open big in theatres somewhere down the road.

That pretty much leaves Soul as the only one standing. It was a film that was more admired than loved. But the fact that it is nominated in other categories should be more than enough to put it over.

The Pick:

No offense to the other nominees here, but Soul should roll here. There isn’t much you’ll be to make out of it, unfortunately. Blame it on the weak state of the field.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Film Odds
Nomadland -300
The Father +275
Borat Subsequent Movie Film +700
One Night in Miami +1200
The White Tiger +2500

Nomadland is a triumph of a lot of things, but it isn’t a movie with a script that jumps out and grabs you. It’s an episodic kind of thing that sort of flows from scene. That formlessness is part of its charm, but it could make it vulnerable in this category.

Looking at The Father, it is a film looking for a win somewhere on the Oscars schedule. And this could be the place it steps up. One Night In Miami is a live long shot in this one, a true adaptation that is done expertly.

The Pick:

Nomadland probably gets knocked out of this one by one of the upstarts. One Night In Miami is one of the top long shots that you’ll find all night long. Take it at 12 to 1 and thank us later.

Best Supporting Actress

Film Odds
Youn Yuh-jung (Minari) -450
Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Movie Film) +450
Amanda Seyfried (Mank) +1200
Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) +1200
Olivia Colman (The Father) +1800

Even though Youn is the favorite, this feels like a more wide-open race than those odds suggest. That means that it’s one of those races where you should be looking for value. And that value comes further down the board than even second choice Bakalova.

Seyfried was an early favorite in this race and seems to be gaining momentum again, and we know that the Academy likes rewarding its history. Speaking of history, Colman is on a historic role of gathering awards nods for movies and television at a record pace. And she could be a factor in this one again.

The Pick:

It could be another upset coming here. The wise bet here would be to take shots at both Colman and Seyfried. That means that you’re going to catch a nice profit while hedging a bit in the process.

Best Supporting Actor

Film Odds
Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) -2500
Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7) +1000
Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami) +1400
Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) +1600
LaKeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah) +2800

We are going to go through the motions of talking about the other actors in this race, but it is really nothing more than talk. Kaluuya has been the heavy favorite ever since he burst on the screen. And nothing has changed in the interim.

In another year, you could see Cohen getting a kind of reward for the full year that he had. Odom was also sensational, but his best chance tonight is in Best Song. Raci is a great story, and Stanfield will win an Oscar soon, just not this year.

The Pick:

You’ve got a story on your hands if Kaluuya gets upset somehow in this one. But you also won’t be able to gain much profit from it. Move on to something with more value.

Best Director

Film Odds
Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) -3000
David Fincher (Mank) +1000
Lee Isaac (Minari) +1600
Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) +1800
Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) +2800

We told you at the beginning of the article that some of the major awards were pretty much a done deal. Best Director feels like one of those awards indeed. Zhao has been rolling through all the other predictive preliminaries without a hiccup, and she should salt it away on Sunday night.

Fincher made a typically distinct film, and should get some support from the old Hollywood guard. Isaac is a major rising talent who would have been right in the mix if not for Zhao. But they’re all playing for second.

The Pick:

Zhao should take this one in a cakewalk. Sadly, you won’t be able to get much of a financial boost from that knowledge. Not at 1-30 anyway.

Best Actress

Film Odds
Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) +130
Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) +190
Frances McDormand (Nomadland) +400
Andra Day (The United States vs Billie Holiday) +500
Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman) +1600

This should be the most hotly-contested major race of the night. Kirby is probably out of it, but all of the others can boast major wins in other preliminary contests. The guess here is that McDormand, already duly honored in the past by the Oscars, probably takes a back seat this year, leaving the other three.

Mulligan was a powerhouse, but the movie was polarizing. And Day’s movie wasn’t all that well-received and is a bit more obscure, but playing a historical famous person is always a good path to take to Oscar. Perhaps the only slight on Davis is that you could argue she was more of a supporting player in the film.

The Pick:

This is a tough one, for sure, and you could make a case for anybody. The guess here is that Day rallies in the final stages to pull it out, as long as enough people watched. That will give you the best odds of three, so that should be your pick.

Best Actor

Film Odds
Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) -2000
Anthony Hopkins (The Father) +700
Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) +1400
Gary Oldman (Mank) +3300
Steven Yeun (Minari) +3300

For most of the awards season, this seemed like a foregone conclusion, that Boseman would win posthumously for his terrific term as a volatile trumpeter trying ty to upstage the star. But then the BAFTAs gave us a surprise and anointed Hopkins with the win over Boseman. That doesn’t necessarily change things for the Oscars, but it should give you a little bit of pause as a bettor.

Is it worth betting 1 to 20 on Boseman when a Hopkins upset could earn you a real upset? Can Ahmed siphon some of the young voters from Boseman? Or is it just over-analysis and you should just go with Boseman like everybody said all along?

The Pick:

Dollars to doughnuts, Boseman is going to win. But a bet on him just seems like a small risk that’s not worth the smaller reward. If you’re going to wager this category, better to put a small amount on Hopkins or even Ahmed and roll the dice.

Best Picture

Film Odds
Nomadland -750
The Trial of the Chicago 7 +800
Minari +900
Promising Young Woman +900
Judas and the Black Messiah +2000
Mank +2200
Sound of Metal +6600
The Father +6600

Can anything derail the Nomadland juggernaut? Since if debuted to rapturous reviews and enchanted home audiences on Hulu, it seemed like it was all over but the crying. There has been a minor backlash attached to the film’s depiction of Amazon, but it might not be anything that voters even notice.

The two top upset possibilities are Chicago 7 and Promising Young Woman. Chicago 7 was expertly made and did justice to a moment in history that hits home today, all with a sprawling cast that was expertly deployed. Promising Young Woman could be an upsetter if the Academy wants to prove how hip they are.

The Pick:

For one more time, you’re stuck with the choice between a low-paying favorite and unlikely longshots that will pay but likely won’t win. In this case, the favorite should withstand the charge. Go with Nomadland.


We hope that this Oscars betting preview gives you the information you need to make your picks. Remember to think of getting value wherever you can. If you do, the actors and actresses who win the Academy Awards won’t be the only ones celebrating on Sunday night.

Jim Beviglia

Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h …

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