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Oscar Odds: Pegging the favorites, dark horses and potential shockers: Part II

By Clayton Dillard


Published: Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Last week, we pegged the winners for the screenplay categories. This week. We turn our attention to acting, through two of the categories are all but wrapped up, based on previous award love. The lead actor and actress races, though, hold significantly more drama.


Matt Damon, Invictus: The overall lack of love for Clint Eastwood’s film and the presence of Christoph Waltz are too much for Damon to overcome. Odds: 200-1.

Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones: The academy loves psychopaths, but Tucci’s work in Peter Jackson’s film plays second fiddle to Waltz’s Nazi. Odds: 125-1.

Christopher Plummer, The Last Station: The old guy card can sometimes be played in the supporting categories, but it usually doesn’t turn out well. Odds: 100-1.

Woody Harrelson, The Messenger: The only performance that could legitimately challenge Waltz, should enough of the votership backlash against the previous award shows. Such a turn of events is highly unlikely, however. Odds: 30-1.

Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds: Sweeping every award show and most critical associations across the board, the odds-on, locked-in favorite is the multi-lingual, witticism wielding Col. Hanz Landa, played with great verve and energy by previously unknown character actor Christoph Waltz. Only a cancelation of the ceremony will prevent Waltz from receiving his first Oscar. Odds: 1-100.


Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart: One two surprise nominees, Gyllenhaal’s performance is the weakest of the category, standing no shot for the win. Odds: 250-1.

Penélope Cruz, Nine: Having just won an Oscar last year for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Cruz won’t usurp one of the remaining nominees’ first Oscar win. Odds: 150-1.

Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air: Kendrick’s performance deserves the nomination and much credit for holding her own with Farmiga and Clooney. No win, though. Odds: 75-1.

Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air: Mo’Nique’s only challenge. If the love for Up in the Air is widespread, she has a small, small chance. Don’t expect the shocker, though. Odds: 25-1.

Mo’Nique, Precious: Like Waltz, she’s won everything. There’s no other nominee who’s been gunning for a win over several years. The path should be cleared – the only concern is with snobby academy voters, who may not take kindly to the fact that Mo’Nique hasn’t lobbied or played their game for the win. Barring this, she’s got it in the bag. Odds: 1-50.


Colin Firth, A Single Man: The Academy doesn’t like to repeat themselves. Awarding Sean Penn’s Harvey Milk last year, a rugged, grizzled country singer must be recognized to flex their masculine, hetero side. Firth’s gay professor is unfortunately out of luck. Odds: 50-1.

Morgan Freeman, Invictus: Oscar voters dig historical figures, but they usually like them better when the film, itself gets love. Invictus couldn’t even make a slate of ten this year and Freeman won fairly recently in 2005 for Million Dollar Baby. Odds: 40-1.

Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker: A dark horse, for sure. Young stars often get love from Oscar voters and who better this year than Renner’s portrayal of an adrenaline seeking bomb disarmer? Sounds good, but Clooney and Bridges loom large. Odds: 20-1.

George Clooney, Up in the Air: Clooney seemed primed to do so a few months ago, before Crazy Heart came along. Now, in what is perhaps the best work of Clooney’s career, he may come up short and likely will, since Bridges has never won one. Odds: 10-1.

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart: Now a five-time nominee, Jeff Bridges may do what he hasn’t done since his first nomination in 1972: win the damn thing. Voters love stories of underdogs or down-and-outers who give it one last go, so the type of character is on his side. Plus, who doesn’t love Jeff Bridges? The Dude abides, indeed. Odds: Even.


Helen Mirren, The Last Station: Mirren’s fourth nomination comes on the heels for her first win for 2007’s The Queen. As mentioned previously, only on rare occasions (Hilary Swank, Sean Penn) will someone win two within a short span. Odds: 50-1.

Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Certainly the most powerhouse of all the Best Actress nominees, and perhaps the most transformative, these are all things the Academy digs. Voters, though, are likely to pull their Precious eggs in Mo’Nique’s basket. Odds: 35-1.

Carey Mulligan, An Education: An early favorite in Mulligan has seen a slip since the emergence of Sandra Bullock, leaving her in the dust. However, she’s got support, so a Bullock/Streep split could push her through to a shocking victory. Odds: 10-1.

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side: Bullock’s nomination has been compared to Julia Roberts’ nod and win for Erin Brockavich, an analogy that seems apropos. This may be the chance for Bullock to receive recognition for years of commercial success. Yet, Streep stands in her way, holding the ever so slight edge. A photo finish to be sure. Odds: 3-2.

Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia: She’s been nominated a whopping 16 times, but she’s only won two, her last in 1983 for Sophie’s Choice. However, this is the only nomination for Julie & Julia, while The Blind Side has Best Picture support. By far the tightest race of the acting categories, Streep’s drought may give her the edge for her third win. Odds: 2-1.

Next Week: Best Director and Best Picture.

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