Star Wars Betting: Could The Last Jedi Win Best Picture?

by Taylor Smith
on September 22, 2017

Star Wars may be the single most successful film franchise of all-time, but that doesn’t mean it’s had a whole lot of success come awards season. Fan reception of the series seems to be far more favorable than critical reception.

Despite 2015’s revival of the franchise, The Force Awakens, smashing several box office records, it was essentially nowhere to be seen at the subsequent Academy Awards. The film was nominated for five awards that night, the most noteworthy of which was probably Best Original Music Score. Star Wars went home with five nominations and zero wins.

2017 will mark the third straight year with a new Star Wars film. Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, is set to hit theaters on December 15. Most expect the movie to dominate the box office once again and give Awakens a serious run for its money as far as overall earnings go.

Will awards follow? It’s tough to say. Jedi will undoubtedly get some nominations at the upcoming Oscars, but does it actually have a chance in the Best Picture field?

The film obviously hasn’t even been released yet, but oddsmakers aren’t particularly optimistic about its chances of winning Best Picture. SkyBet has The Last Jedi at 50/1 to win Best Picture, while BetVictor is more bearish at 100/1.

History

Episode IV (the first film) opened to massive critical praise when it was released in 1977. Nobody had ever seen anything like it. The special effects were far ahead of their time, and the film effectively put stars like Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford on the map.

A New Hope was handsomely rewarded at the Oscars. The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards in all, and it wound up winning six. Unfortunately, it didn’t win some of the more noteworthy awards like Best Picture. Despite Star Wars’ nomination, Annie Hall won best picture in 1978. Alec Guinness was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but the award wound up going to Jason Robards for his role in Julia.

The awards A New Hope won at the Oscars that year were as follows:

  • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
  • Best Sound
  • Best Costume Design
  • Best Effects, Visual Effects
  • Best Music, Original Score
  • Best Film Editing

A real murderer’s row there, huh?

Unfortunately, none of the subsequent films in the franchise have been able to match the awards success of the first one. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is considered by many to be the best Star Wars of them all, but its nominations paled in comparison to its predecessor. The Academy rewarded Empire with a single award in sound that year.

The first three Star Wars movies combined to win nine Oscars, which isn’t bad at all.

None of those wins came in the major categories, but wins are wins, nevertheless. However, compare that with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which won 17 Oscars in all.

The three prequels didn’t achieve anything close to that level of success. Those three were nominated for a total of five Oscars, winning none. Awakens came up short in its aforementioned five categories, while 2016’s Rogue One whiffed on both of its nominations, as well.

Star Wars is in the midst of a 33-year Oscar dry spell entering the 2018 awards.

Will Jedi Beat the Field?

A New Hope remains the only Star Wars movie to have been nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, yet most fans would not deem it to be the franchise’s best effort. It’s a classic, of course, but Empire is better. Fight me if you want.

By most accounts, The Force Awakens was the best Star Wars movie since the first trilogy. Despite all the hype leading up to the prequels in the late-90s and early aughts, those films were never able to capture the same magic that the first three did. They were derailed by Jar-Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace and were never able to recover.

Despite Awakens’ greatness, it didn’t really sniff the Best Picture category in 2016. Do you remember which films were nominated that year? Here they are:

  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Spotlight
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road

Yes, Mad Max got nominated for Best Picture, yet Star Wars was left out in the cold. Spotlight actually won that year, which was a pleasant surprise. Most had The Revenant tabbed as a heavy favorite, yet it came up short in Best Picture.

Let’s talk about Jedi’s potential competition in 2018.

As of now, Dunkirk seems to be a pretty heavy favorite among bookmakers to take home Best Picture. Most oddsmakers list Christopher Nolan’s latest effort at 4/1 to take home the biggest prize on Oscar night.

Dunkirk essentially checks all the Oscar boxes. First and foremost, it’s a war movie, and those tend to fare well come awards season. It’s also got Nolan attached, who is obviously quite the decorated name. Tom Hardy is cast in yet another leading role, and one would imagine he’ll get some Oscar love, too.

Ever heard of The Post? If not, you probably will on Oscar night. It’s yet another historical drama directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. I mean, come on. Can you even imagine a more Oscar-friendly set of circumstances? If it lives up to its potential, The Post is going to be swimming in awards. Some bookmakers give it 5/1 odds of winning Best Picture, while others are as favorable as 3/1.

The Shape of Water (7/1), Call Me By Your Name (8/1) and Detroit (10/1) are a few others generating some early Oscar buzz. More recognizable titles like Get Out (25/1), Mother! (33/1), Beauty and the Beast (50/1) and Baby Driver (50/1) also make sense as potential contenders.

There have been a few other box office smashes (The Fate of the Furious, War for the Planet of the Apes, Spider-Man: Homecoming), but none of those is regarded as a realistic challenger for Best Picture. Unfortunately, it seems likely that The Last Jedi is going to be grouped in with those films rather than ones like Dunkirk and The Post.

Could Star Wars Shock the World?

Considering The Last Jedi still isn’t out for another few months, it’s tough to realistically gauge its chances once awards season rolls around. Most are expecting another standard Star Wars episode, which means it’ll be a huge success with fans and it’ll be largely ignored on Oscar night.

Could it surpass critical expectations? Absolutely.

But we aren’t counting on it. The Last Jedi will, in all likelihood, be amazing, but Star Wars movies just don’t move the needle for the Academy anymore. Disney will just have to settle for making another movie that generates $1 billion worldwide. Ho hum. We’re going to have to pass on betting on Jedi to win Best Picture, even with favorable profit potential at 100/1.

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