2023 Oscar Picks, Predictions | Bets For Top Gun Maverick, Austin Butler

2023 Oscar Picks, Predictions | Bets For Top Gun Maverick, Austin Butler article feature image

Chris Hyde/Getty Images. Pictured: Austin Butler

In the words of Alpha Waymond in Everything Everywhere All at Once: “The Universe is so much bigger than you realize.”

The same can be said about the voting base for the Academy Awards, as the 95th version is set for Sunday from Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. The Academy has expanded in numbers and diversity in recent years, leading to a few upsets in major categories. 

Parasite was the first international film to ever win Best Picture in 2020. For years, a stigma existed around features coming from online streaming platforms such as Netflix. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe dominated the box office for nearly two decades, Martin Scorsese compared the production to that of a theme park. Fast-forward to the present and the categories are filled with online streaming platform films, while Angelea Bassett is the first-ever MCU character to be nominated for an acting award. 

The stage is set for the 2023 chapter to be written, as movie consumers welcomed Tom Cruise, Brendan Fraser and Jamie Lee Curtis back to the screen in powerful performances. With most every nomination available for wager, here is a look at the betting card investments that will sit alongside my movie popcorn on Sunday evening.

Best Picture: Everything Everywhere All at Once (-1200, FanDuel)

With no disrespect to the entire field of nomination for Best Picture, none are perched as the powerhouse of Everything Everywhere All at Once. The movie checks all of the boxes when looking for a Best Picture, with nominations in directing, editing and acting.

The total number of nominations has always been the first indicator of a film’s chances to win, with 11 making this feature a heavyweight. The victories have also created a pile of hardware with 10 victories between the Golden Globes, Independent Spirit Awards and the BAFTAs. 

The biggest indicator that this film will win best picture are the votes of the experts and editors of the Gold Derby. Only three in a total of 34 did not vote Everything Everywhere All at Once as the best picture winner. Of the few that did not pick the film as the winner, the movie was listed as second on their respective ballot. Keep in mind the voting system assigns points by the ranking on the ballot, and if Everything Everywhere All at Once is not at the very top of the voting pool entries, it most certainly is listed second. 

With the number of experts and editors on the movie as the outright winner, the true odds on the film are -3200. There will be steam on “All Quiet on the Western Front” because of the win at the BAFTAs, but the British award winner for Best Picture has never been an indicator for the Academy Awards.

Grab the best price on a movie that visually stuns as it pulls on the heart. 

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Best Director: Stephen Spielberg — The Fabelmans (+850, FanDuel)

When it comes to Best Director, it takes a number of strong elements to veer away from the winner of this very category at the Directors Guild.

There may have been no stronger correlation in winners until Bong Joon-ho won for Parasite at the Academy Awards versus Directors Guild winner Sam Mendes for 1917. The defeat can be attributed to the growing number of voters who rely less on the specific guilds as a write-in candidate. The winner of Best Director at the recent 2022 Director’s Guild was Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, also known collectively as ‘The Daniels.’ 

Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan, known as The Daniels, won the theatrical film directing prize at #DGAawards. See the full winners list: https://t.co/0m0FGhdURupic.twitter.com/eij0MwtHui

— Variety (@Variety) February 19, 2023

Everything Everywhere All At Once casts a large shadow over these awards, but the numbers in most categories are oversold. Per Gold Derby, the Daniels pulled in just less than 75% of the top vote for Best Director. An eye-popping 25% of the votes went in favor of Stephen Spielberg for The Fabelmans.

As discussed on The Action Network Podcast – Oscars Edition, The Fabelmans did not deliver for all the hype associated with a Spielberg movie. 

Despite an underperforming movie, Spielberg has value in the market with the rush on Everything Everywhere All At Once. With 25% of the vote from editors and experts, Spielberg should be lined closer to +300, with the Daniels less than -400.

In the case there is crazy Yorgos Lanthimos steam on Sunday, look for the correct price in the market with the boundaries mentioned above. 

What is QuickSlip?

QuickSlip is an Action Network feature that allows users to automatically pre-load their bet slip at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Best Actor: Austin Butler — Elvis (+120, DraftKings)

There is no shortage of items to be discussed when it comes to The Whale. Brendan Fraser delivers a performance so powerful that I personally ran to the futures market in the summer of 2022 to get plus-money on the former Encino Man.

His visual appearance is stunning, but not nearly as amazing as the voice he projects behind a man who has been battling mental health issues since the death of his partner. Obesity and mental health issues are a stigma that most content verticals want to avoid, but The Whale dives straight in and Fraser hits a home run in a specific binge scene. 

Despite the personal love I have for the character, there is negativity around the industry for the movie itself. Fraser wore a suit, giving critics the argument that another actor should have been chosen for the role. While that may deter votes off Fraser, there is no denying the power of Austin Butler on stage as Elvis.

The performance of the 31-year-old Anaheim native was flawless, complemented by the brave move to have Butler be the artist behind the music in the Elvis film. Heavy praise continues to roll in for Elvis on this note after Rami Malek won this award two years ago with a lip-syncing performance of Freddie Mercury. 

The template for winning Best Actor generally go by the rule of a British actor in a British film with a British production company. This rule of thumb cashed a +700 ticket for Action Network readers on Anthony Hopkins two years ago.

Colin Farrell and The Banshees of Inisherin miss those marks, leaving the experts and editors at the Gold Derby as our marker for the victor of this specific award. 

The experts and editors align on 56% of the vote for Butler to win Best Actor, as Fraser and Farrell split the remainder of the votes. That is enough to give value to Butler on any number that has plus-value in the market.

While this is one of the larger positions I have on the entire 95th Academy Awards betting card, my stop price on investment is -125

Best Supporting Actress: Kerry Condon — The Banshees of Inisherin (+225, DraftKings)

The pump on Everything Everywhere All At Once was there for Jamie Lee Curtis months ago in the category of Best Supporting Actress. Recent victories by her opponents have made this category a true crapshoot after kickoff Sunday.

Kerry Condon won the BAFTA for The Banshees of Inisherin while Angela Bassett won the Golden Globe. Steam picked up once again on Curtis following a SAG victory, making any of the three names mentioned part of a three-horse race that will require a photo finish. 

The rule for the Best Supporting Actress award is to avoid an age range in the 40s or 50s, but none of the favored candidates have the youth of Jennifer Lawrence or the career length of Jessica Tandy.

The experts and editors of Gold Derby show a small lean in this category, leaving Curtis at just 16% of the vote. Bassett sits at 46% while fighting a bias of being the first-ever member of a MCU cast to be nominated for an acting award.

Condon generated 38% of the vote, setting the value on her betting price at anything better than +165.

Best Sound: Top Gun Maverick (-400, FanDuel)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Top Gun Maverick (+2800, FanDuel)

In case you missed it, Top Gun Maverick is better then Top Gun. That is a statement not made easily about sequels unless you hover in the rarified air of The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather II, Aliens or The Dark Knight.

Tom Cruise returns and the love interest upgrade button is hit with Jennifer Connelly, both still rocking as much swagger as the 1990 version of themselves. The story plot with Goose and Iceman come full circle as a new generation of BOB and Hangman are sure to get a third movie out of the franchise. 

To come down from the fanboy poster painted in the paragraph above, this is the Academy Awards and not a Nickelodeon slime special. There were no nominations in the major categories outside of Best Picture, but in the areas of Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay the movie hailed in nominations.

Do not forget the movie sat through a two year delay thanks to COVID-19; as Tom Cruise noted that a theatrical viewing was the only way to consume a second scoop of our hero. Per Rotten Tomatoes, this movie has an audience and critics score that left viewers salivating with love. In similar fashion to Ford v Ferrari, the movie could pull a few more categories than it deserves.

Best Sound is priced properly considering the euphoric mix of canyon diving in a Super Hornet and sweaty flag football on a Coronado beach. The -400 for in Best Sound is not just bettable to -600, but worthy of an Oscar parlay card. The next question is where can Maverick strike hot on a longshot category?

For Best Adapted Screenplay, the odds-on favorite is Women Talking, taken from a 2018 Miriam Toews novel. There is no doubt in the eyes of experts, editors and super fans from Gold Derby that Women Talking is first with a strong surge from All Quiet on the Western Front for this category.

Don’t tell that to Captain Pete Mitchell, who can hit a three-meter target with a bogey on the tail just as well as Luke Skywalker in a Death Star trench. This longshot play is certainly worth no more than couch change, but the emotional play of the night is that Top Gun gets on stage in an underdog scenario.  

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