Raybon’s 2019 Oscars Betting Guide: Odds, Picks & Best Values

Raybon’s 2019 Oscars Betting Guide: Odds, Picks & Best Values article feature image
  • Oddsmakers have posted betting odds for the 2019 Oscars (8 p.m. ET, ABC).
  • The betting odds can be compared to expert prediction data to determine which bets offer the most value.
  • Chris Raybon combines the data with his personal knowledge and viewing experiences to offer picks in the six major categories plus a handful of smaller ones.

The expert prediction data from GoldDerby.com is probably the closest thing we have to tracking “sharp” action for award shows. While they don’t always nail the winner (who does?), their accuracy has been in the 66-92% range since 2011. The key is that the experts have been dead on as far as the films for which they don’t vote, which allows us to effectively narrow down each category to only the contenders with true shots of winning.

The percentage of the expert vote a nominee gets in a particular category can be treated as its “true” odds, which can then be compared to the actual betting odds for that category to determine which bets offer the most value.

Here is a table comparing a candidate’s true probability of winning according to the exports with the probability implied by the betting odds for various categories, sorted by value.

Be sure to check back frequently up until 8 p.m. lock, as I’ll be updating if odds shift and new values emerge.

Best Picture

  • Roma  -300
  • Green Book +280
  • The Favourite +1800
  • Bohemian Rhapsody +1800
  • Black Panther +2500
  • BlacKkKlansman +2800
  • A Star Is Born +3300
  • Vice +6600

I’ve already published a more detailed breakdown of this award, but the upshot is that, according to the experts, only three films are in the running: “Roma,” “Green Book” and “Black Panther.”

After a disastrous ratings rock-bottom in 2018, there’s reason to believe the Academy is looking to honor more popular films with this award, which isn’t good news for frontrunner “Roma,” a black and white Netflix foreign language film that could still clean up in other categories.

“Green Book” would be the safe choice for the Academy and offers slight betting value, but not as much as sleeper “Black Panther,” a top-10 all-time box office smash that also had a massive cultural impact.

Note: Since “Black Panther” and “Green Book” both have positive expected value, you can use our hedging calculator to determine the appropriate wagers if you’re betting on both.

The Pick: Black Panther +2500 (up to +1070)


Best Director

  • Alfonso Cuaron (Roma) -300
  • Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) +200
  • Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman) +650
  • Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War) +2500
  • Adam McKay (Vice) +3300

That “Roma” is the Best Picture frontrunner is a testament to Cuaron, but the odds overrate both him and long-shot upset candidate Spike Lee.

Update (Sun. 2/26, 6:53 p.m. ET): Larthimos is drawing late action that has caused a drastic shift in the lines to nearly even with Cuaron. Meanwhile, the experts have moved slightly in favor of Cuaron with still zero support for Larthimos.

The Pick: Pass

Best Actress

  • Glenn Close (The Wife) -550
  • Olivia Coleman (The Favourite) +350
  • Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born) +1000
  • Yalitza Aparicio (Roma) +4000
  • Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) +5000

The experts are in unanimous agreement that, for the first time in seven acting nominations, Glenn Close won’t suffer the misfortune of living up to her last name.

The Pick: Glenn Close -550


Best Actor

  • Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) -550
  • Christian Bale (Vice) +275
  • Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born) +2000
  • Viggo Mortensen (Green Book) +3300
  • William Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate) +6600

Malek (94.6% of expert votes), Bale (5.4%) and Cooper (0%) are each deserving, but Malek’s role afforded him the most opportunity to stand out. The box office success of “Bohemian Rhapsody” may help cement his case.

The Pick: Rami Malek -550


Best Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali (Green Book) -1400
  • Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) +700
  • Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born) +900
  • Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman) +3300
  • Sam Rockwell (Vice) +5000

Ali could conceivably have been nominated for Best Actor instead of Viggo Mortensen — and won. But to lay -1400, you would need to be 93% certain he’s going to win. The lines have moved toward dark horses Elliott and Grant enough to erode their value as well, so  betting this category is a no-go for me.

The Pick: Pass


Best Supporting Actress

  • Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) -300
  • Amy Adams (Vice) +300
  • Rachel Weisz (The Favourite) +800
  • Marina de Tavira (Roma) +1500
  • Emma Stone (The Favourite) +2000

When a film receives a double supporting actress nomination, one or the other has won 34% of the time, so from that perspective it would make sense to pair Weisz and Stone.

However, there seems to be enough support for King to take home her first acting nomination to offset the trend. The experts give King a 94% chance of winning, which is well above the 75% break-even point that her betting odds imply.

The Pick: Regina King -300

Best Costume Design

  • The Favourite -150
  • Black Panther +200
  • Mary Queen of Scots +2000
  • Mary Poppins Returns +2500
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs +3300

I’d act fast on this one because it’s the best value on the board. “The Favourite” has been the frontrunner for most of Oscars season, but 61% of the Gold Derby experts now predict the award will go to “Black Panther.”

The Pick: Black Panther +200 (up to +100)


Best Adapted Screenplay

  • BlacKkKlansman -250
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me? +275
  • If Beale Street Could Talk +600
  • A Star Is Born +2000
  • Ballad of Buster Scruggs +5000

“BlacKkKlansman” featured a lot of head-scratching decisions by director Spike Lee, but the screenplay about a black undercover officer posing as white to expose the KKK was still fascinating.

The fact that “BlacKkKlansman” is one of only two Best Picture nominees in this category (along with “A Star Is Born”) puts it in the driver’s seat. Experts give it an 88% chance to win while the betting market is valuing it at 73%.

The Pick: BlacKkKlansman -275


Best Production Design

  • The Favourite -230
  • Black Panther +200
  • Roma +900
  • First Man +2500
  • Mary Poppins Returns +2500

Experts have this as essentially a toss-up between “The Favourite” (50% of votes) and “Black Panther” (47%), while oddsmakers are treating the former like it has a 2-1 advantage.

The Pick: Black Panther +200 (up to +120)


Best Original Screenplay

  • The Favourite -200
  • Green Book +200
  • Roma +750
  • First Reformed +1400
  • Vice +4000

If the Academy wasn’t in ratings crisis mode, overall nomination co-leader “The Favourite” would have probably made more noise. As it stands, this is the chance for the Academy to still honor it with an award of some significance.

Experts peg it at a 72% chance to win while the betting market is pricing it at about 66%.

The Pick: The Favourite -200


Best Cinematography

  • Roma -1800
  • Cold War +900
  • A Star Is Born +1200
  • The Favourite +1500
  • Never Look Away +6600

Ninety-four percent of experts agree on “Roma,” and there’s almost no way “Cold War” pulls an upset over a Best Picture frontrunner that was nominated in large part for its cinematography. Despite being a virtual lock, though, odds for “Roma” should be more in the -1700 range, so bet accordingly.

The Pick: Roma (if -1700 or below; if not, pass)


Best Visual Effects

  • Avengers: Infinity War -200
  • Christopher Robin +325
  • First Man +350
  • Ready Player One +1000
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story +5000

This usually goes to the nominee with the most overall nominations, which would be “First Man.” Its four nominations are more than the rest of the field combined.

Update (Sun 2/26, 5:30 p.m. ET): I initially recommended “First Man,” but since then we’ve seen a massive line move away from “Avengers: Infinity War” and toward “Christopher Robin” (which hasn’t even gotten one expert vote) rather than “First Man.” This creates too much uncertainty, especially since the recent trends that favor “First Man” may no longer apply for nominees going up against popular superhero movies.

The Pick: Pass