Academy Awards Acting Categories: Favorites, Long Shots, and Picks for the 2019 Oscars

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Are you involved in a competitive Oscar pool this weekend? Or, if you’re really serious about matters, are you planning on placing a wager or two on the event? In any case, we’re here to help by picking the winners of the Academy Awards acting categories.

Let’s face it: This has not been the smoothest run-up to the Oscars. It seems like the Academy can’t get out of its own way when it comes to the award ceremony. Every decision that they make seems to bring about a backlash and ensuing second-guessing.

First of all, there was the ill-advised decision to create a separate category for popular films. This brought down derision from practically all sides, from those who make the movies to those that watch them. Needless to say, that plan was quickly scrapped.

But the missteps just kept on coming from there. The Kevin Hart fiasco left the Oscar ceremony with no host (which, considering all the scrutiny the hosts tend to face, might not be a bad thing). Then there were the decisions to not show the presentation of key awards or certain Best Song nominees during the broadcast, decisions that were quickly nixed when critics became fired up about them.

Yet, all of that is essentially a sidelight to what’s important: handing out those shiny gold trophies. And guessing who will win is a big part of the Oscar traditions. In fact, the whole cottage industry of entertainment proposition betting really got rolling when people started to speculate on the potential Academy Award winners.

Well, here we are again, and, for all the negatives associated with the show, we are trying to guess the winners as always. But if you’re a bettor, it’s more than just picking winners. It’s about deciding where to make plays for some candidates with longer odds so that you can get some real betting value out of your wagering money.

With that in mind, we’re here to help you out by checking out the major acting categories. These are some of the most prestigious awards that will be handed out on Sunday evening, as many actors and actresses strive their whole careers for that ultimate validation of their work. On Sunday night, four of those people will leave cradling that prestigious award in their arms with mile-wide smiles on their faces.

In this article, we’ll be picking the winners of the Academy Award acting categories. But we’ll also be taking you through the entire field to give you an idea of who might be the live long shots in the group. As a result, you’ll have a good idea about how to proceed with your Oscar wagers and possibly come out with a hefty profit.

(All odds courtesy of BetOnline. Contenders listed in reverse order, from longest shot to favorite)

Best Actor

Willem Defoe from At Eternity’s Gate (+5000)

You’re getting 50-1 odds on the veteran, a guy who has brought something special from everything to superhero movies to little-seen indie movies. This would fit the mode of lifetime achievement Oscar that the Academy sometimes likes to give out. And Defoe also gets points for playing a historical figure (Van Gogh), which is another well-known way of attracting voters.

Viggo Mortensen from Green Book (+3300)

Mortensen’s Oscar campaign is getting noticeably less heat than his co-star in Green Book. There is also somewhat of a sense that he is playing a stereotype, even though he actually transcends that as the movie progresses. Still, even Ali might have a hard time overcoming some of the bad mojo that seems to have attached itself to this movie, which doesn’t leave the erstwhile Aragorn with much of a shot.

Bradley Cooper from A Star Is Born (+1800)

Bradley Cooper from A Star Is Born

Cooper has been in the Oscar mix several times in his career before and figures to be in that mix again down the road. Telling Oprah that he was “embarrassed” about his lack of recognition for the movie was an interesting bit of campaigning. Maybe it will get him some sympathy points, although his fine work in such an iconic role deserves notice anyway.

Christian Bale from Vice (+300)

If anybody is going to derail the Rami Malek train, it’s Bale. He already has a statue for The Fighter, and he could just muscle his way into this one as well. Hollywood is a liberal town, and his skewering of the former Vice President will certainly win him some love from the voters.

Rami Malek from Bohemian Rhapsody (-600)

The controversies that have hung around Bohemian Rhapsody (lack of accuracy, Bryan Singer’s scandal, the movie’s by-the-numbers biopic approach) don’t seem to be attaching themselves to Malek. And, really, did anyone think that any actor could pull off Freddie Mercury the way that he did? He is in it to win it, but, man, those odds don’t give you much betting value.

The Pick

The Academy’s bewildering decision to ignore Ethan Hawke, who won far more pre-Oscar trophies than anybody else, throws this race wide open. Meanwhile, Malek and Bale picked up about an even number of trophies in the run-up to Sunday night. Malek did win the SAG awards, which many pegs as the best Oscar predictor for the acting categories.

That said, you’re getting no betting value whatsoever in taking Malek, especially since it seems like about a 50-50 battle. You’re better off taking three to one on Bale while you have the chance. This doesn’t seem like a place for a big long shot, but Cooper would be that guy if you’re so inclined.

Best Actress

Melissa McCarthy from Can You Ever Forgive Me? (+5000)

Kudos to McCarthy for pulling her downward spiraling movie career back into the light with this well-received role. Most likely, it won’t be enough for her to get into the picture here. But at least it’s a sign that she has more in her repertoire than we might have given her credit for in past years.

Yalitza Aparicio from Roma (+2500)

Yalitza Aparicio from Roma

Aparicio is one of the amateur actors that delivered stunning performances in Roma. This is an award that rarely goes to newcomers though, unlike the Supporting Actress group. As such, hers seems to be a nomination that will have to be her honor, especially since she didn’t get much traction in the earlier awards.

Lady Gaga from A Star Is Born (+1400)

It’s hard to imagine Gaga coming out as an Oscar winner here after Olivia Colman beat her at the Globes and with Glenn Close looming as well. It probably wasn’t a good sign that “Shallow” didn’t do much at the Grammys either. It seems like a little fatigue has set in around A Star Is Born and that, perhaps, it peaked too early in the awards season.

Olivia Colman from The Favourite (+450)

Most people are handing this award to Close, and it’s understandable that she’s the favorite. But Colman has actually garnered more of the critics’ groups awards for her lauded role. That makes her a serious threat at 9-2, in that it shows that her performance was thought by many experts to be the best in the past year.

Glenn Close from The Wife (-700)

Many people who haven’t seen The Wife might think that the narrative behind Close winning here is all about the fact that she has yet to win that elusive Oscar. But her performance would have deserved to be in the thick of it even if she had won ten of these things. The other stuff just makes it more likely that she will indeed prevail on Sunday night.

The Pick

There doesn’t seem like much of a chance for either McCarthy or Aparicio, so you can probably throw them out. Gaga at 14 to 1 is certainly tempting, but that seems like a pick that one should only entertain if they are dead set on taking double-digit long shots.

Colman is the choice you should make if you absolutely have to get some betting value. But her chances seem to only be in the neighborhood of 10 percent. That means that, value or not, your best bet is to stick with Close and her seeming juggernaut path to victory.

Best Supporting Actor

Adam Driver from BlacKkKlansman (+3300)

Adam Driver from BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman seems destined to grab some other awards on this night. And Driver seems destined to also be decorated by the Academy, considering his sterling work to date and the way top-flight directors seem to come looking for him. But it seems like too far of a leap to see him get into the race here, especially considering he has won exactly zero honors this awards season.

Sam Rockwell from Vice (+3300)

Rockwell will be looking for a second straight win in this category after his victory a year ago for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. His turn as President George W. Bush was full of twinkle and mischief. But it won’t be enough to get him past the favorites in front of him for two in a row.

Sam Elliott from A Star Is Born (+1600)

Elliott’s nomination is not just a nod to a well-respected career in the industry. He has picked up his share of pre-Oscar awards for his performances, albeit not as many as the two gentlemen listed in front of him. Still, this might be the chance for A Star Is Born to get its due while also honoring a veteran that the acting community adores.

Richard Grant from Can You Ever Forgive Me (+700)

Grant’s chemistry with McCarthy is what you’ll remember when you leave the theatre after watching their film. But then again, Grant is the kind of actor who demonstrates chemistry with just about everybody with whom he shares the screen. Nobody in this field won as many of the awards leading up to the Oscars.

Mahershala Ali from Green Book (-200)

Ali did indeed win the major predictor awards, including the Golden Globes and the SAG, which is why he has been stamped as the heavy favorite. But it should be noted that the odds make him the most vulnerable of the favorites. Perhaps that’s because he has already secured an Oscar win in this category (for Moonlight), and he’s coming in with a movie dogged by issues that could sour voters.

The Pick

This is the award to go away from the favorite. Not that Ali wasn’t brilliant in the movie, actually out-acting the material by a wide margin. It just seems all of the white noise surrounding Green Book might work its way into the decision-making process of the voters.

So where does that leave us in this somewhat perplexing category? Since there is a good chance that the chalk will do all the talking in the other acting categories, here is where a big upset might occur. With that in mind, you should prance out on that limb and place your wager on Elliott at a tempting price of 16 to 1.

Best Supporting Actress

Marina de Tavira for Roma (+2800)

Perhaps no category has been more conducive to upsets in Oscar history than this one. And many of those upset winners have been relative newcomers to the industry. Aparicio would be the one to benefit if that trend continued on Sunday night, to the fetching odds of 28 to 1.

Emma Stone for The Favourite (+2000)

It’s not fair, but there is no doubt a bias placed against those who have won Oscars before. Remember that actors and actresses vote for these awards, and they like to spread the wealth as much as possible. To overcome that bias, you really have to do something ridiculously extraordinary, whereas Stone simply formed an important part of a wonderful ensemble.

Rachel Weisz for The Favourite (+500)

Rachel Weisz for The Favourite

One of the coolest things about The Favourite was the way that it returned Weisz to prominence. And there has been momentum for her lately, sparked by more and more people discovering what a joy that this film is. But will it be enough to vault her from the third choice over the two actresses in front of her in the odds?

Amy Adams for Vice (+300)

Would you believe this is the sixth nomination for Adams, five of which have come in this category? And she hasn’t yet been able to bag the biggest prize. If there is a groundswell of support for Close for this reason, it stands to reason that there should be some for Adams, even if she has accomplished all of those nominations in a relatively short amount of time.

Regina King from If Beale Street Could Talk (-250)

The only stumble in King’s march to victory came when she was upset by Emily Blunt at the SAG awards. But then Blunt didn’t make the list for the Oscars. Of all the acting categories, King won the biggest percentage of the other awards leading up to Oscar night by giving the best performance in what has been a standout career.

The Pick

There could be some temptation for you to try to pick against King here. You could be swayed by the fact that she isn’t the biggest name. For that reason, you might try to shoehorn Adams or, if you like long shots, King in here.

If you really want a long shot, de Tavira, based on the unpredictable history of this award, is the one that you should focus in on with your wagers. But truly, you are getting decent odds here on King as a favorite. She is not only the likely winner, but she is the deserving one.


You can use this as your cheat sheet for the Oscars on Sunday night. Just remember, when you’re picking the winners of the Academy Awards acting categories, you have to go beyond just who gives the best performance. Look at all the other factors that go into an Oscar voter’s choice before placing your bets.

Jim Beviglia

Jim Beviglia joined 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 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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