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Betting the 90th Academy Awards

Betting on the Academy Awards is a special beast to me. It was the first time that the woman who would become my wife could really get involved in gambling without taking random guesses. Years ago, these boards were tight. But this year is full of huge favorites which means that the books are tired of getting their butts kicked by entertainment prop lovers.

Of the nine Oscars categories that has odds for, six of them have massive, overwhelming favorites. The only other market that is harrowingly close is the Foreign Language Film award and I’m going to be straight up honest about this – I didn’t see a single one of these movies. Did you?! A Fantastic Woman is the favorite at -170 just ahead of The Square at +175. Bet blind if you want to but I don’t recommend it.

Biggest Favorites in 90th Academy Awards Odds

Best Actor Gary Oldman Darkest Hour -2000
Best Actress Frances McDormand Three Billboards -1400
Best Supporting Actor Sam Rockwell Three Billboards -600
Best Supporting Actress Allison Janney I, Tonya -550
Best Director Guillermo del Toro The Shape of Water -1200
Best Animated Film - Coco -5000

Those kinds of odds mean that the oddsmakers know something that we do not. I mean, -2000 for Gary Oldman? Can you imagine if the Golden State Warriors were -2000 to win the NBA title?? The only real candidate here who could unseat the favorite is Saoirse Ronan for her outstanding performance in Lady Bird, but even she’s getting long +800 odds as the second choice in Best Actress odds.

Let’s discuss the only two categories that are really up for grabs.


This one doesn’t have an outright favorite, but Get Out definitely feels like it has the inside track as a +110 top choice. Three Billboards and Lady Bird have strong odds as well, while The Shape of Water and The Big Sick stand as longshots. The Academy tends to lean towards movies that have huge social impact and very few movies have accomplished this in the way Get Out has.


There are two favorites in this market. The first is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri at -125 and The Shape of Water at +160. After that it’s a collection of +900 and outsiders (Lady Bird, Get Out) and then a slew of longshots including The Post, Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour and Phantom Thread.

Before we tackle the leads on this board, the one truly potential upset specialist is Chris Nolan’s Dunkirk which sits on a weird +1000 island of its own. This movie is an absolute masterpiece, and arguably Nolan’s best work which in itself is saying a lot. As an achievement in film and a reflection of a gruesome war, Dunkirk is a smashing success. But the main problem is that it came out last summer and doesn’t have the same legs that recent releases do. Freshness matters to some degree when it comes to betting the Academy Awards. I don’t mind Dunkirk at +1000 as a flier play but I don’t love it either. I’ve spent $20 on dumber things today already so it’s not a terrible play.

Getting back to the favorites, it’s really a toss-up. Film critics love both movies, but actual audiences are split. The Shape of Water ticks all of the boxes in terms of uniqueness, artistry and storytelling. It’s fantastic and it should win. This is the type of the film that falls directly in the wheelhouse of the academy, and it should be recognized as such.

But Three Billboards is a moving story that is both played out brilliantly but incredibly resonant with modern day circumstances. As you can tell by the chart of heavy favorites in 90th Academy Awards betting, this is a performance driven movie that also touches on some truly relevant and important contexts in the country. We’ve seen the Academy lean left when it feels compelled to.

From the perspective of recognizing a film that takes chances, does something different and delivers a story that nobody else has told, The Shape of Water is the better pick between you and me. However, Three Billboards is listed as the favorite because of its subject matter, and the fact that it is a truly well done movie. It has the same type of weight that Spotlight did when it claimed Best Picture in 2016. At least it feels that way.

Hit up’s Entertainment Props section to bet on all your favorite Academy Award nominees!

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