2021 Oscar Predictions, Betting Picks & Odds For All Nominees

2021 Oscar Predictions, Betting Picks & Odds For All Nominees article feature image

Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Images. Pictured: A view of the red carpet appears before the start of the Oscars on Sunday at Union Station in Los Angeles.

  • After a long wait, the 2021 Oscars are finally upon us.
  • Chris Raybon breaks down every category and gives his top picks.
  • Find his predictions as well as the nominees for each category below.

The biggest night in Hollywood has finally arrived!

Here’s a breakdown of how I’m betting each category for the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, airing live on ABC.

New to betting? Favorites have a minus (-) sign and the number indicates the money you would need to risk to win $100, whereas underdogs have a plus (+) sign while that number indicates the money you would win for every $100 bet.

Example: The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a +650 underdog for Best Picture, which means you would net a $650 profit on a $100 bet if it wins. Learn more here.

Best Picture

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
The Trial of the Chicago 7+65013.3%
Promising Young Woman+14006.7%
Judas and the Black Messiah+30003.2%
The Sound of Metal+50002.0%
The Father+80001.2%

What's important to remember about the Best Picture race is that the Oscars switched to a preferential ballot for this award just over a decade ago, meaning voters rank their choices and a film could win without getting the most first-place votes if it is consistently second- or third-place.

Nomadland is the consensus frontrunner and has the most GoldDerby.com expert votes, with The Trial of the Chicago 7 coming in at No. 2, but due in large part to the preferential ballot, look at what has happened in the past five years:

  • 2020: No.  2 Parasite defeated No. 1 1917
  • 2019: No. 2 Green Book defeated No. 1 Roma
  • 2018: No. 2 The Shape of Water defeated No. 1 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • 2017: No. 2 Moonlight defeated No. 1 La La Land
  • 2016: No. 2 Spotlight defeated No. 1 The Revenant

Part of this has to do solely with the preferential ballot itself, which maximizes the chances of a No. 2 beating a No. 1.

Part of it also has to do with the fact that the market hasn't fully adjusted to the effect of the preferential ballot.

  • Over the past five years, each Best Picture frontrunner won the Best Picture at BAFTAs, which means the BAFTAs have not aligned with the winner over the past five years, either, and have done so barely half the time in the preferential ballot era.
  • Over the past eight years, 50% of Best Picture winners failed to record a nomination for either directing, acting, or editing, once considered a fatal flaw.
  • Over the past eight years, 25% of Best Picture winners failed to receive a Directing nomination.

What does this all mean for this year?

  • Nomadland is the consensus No. 1, won the BAFTA, and has noms in the key three categories, which is inflating its value in the market.
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 is in perfect position as the consensus No. 2 that is unlikely to fall too far down anyone's ballot. It's lack of a director nomination is also likely contributing to more favorable odds.

Like I've done the past few years with success, I'm fading the frontrunner Nomadland here and going heavy on The Trial of the Chicago 7.

We also have 9% of Gold Derby editors and 6% of experts predicting that neither top two films win, so the best move is to also hedge a bit with the other two long shot possibilities as predicted by Gold Derby: Minari (which has added upside because it hasn't always been eligible in this category at other awards shows this season) and Promising Young Woman.

Pick:The Trial of the Chicago 7 — +650 (0.8 units, to +200) | Minari +1400 — (0.1 units, to +900) | Promising Young Woman +1400 (0.1 units, to +900)

Best Director

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
Chloé Zhao (Nomadland)-333597.1%
David Fincher (Mank)+10009.1%
Lee Isaac Chung (Minari)+17005.6%
Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman)+20004.8%
Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round)+25003.8%

Zhao brings back fears of 2020 Sam Mendes, but they are not the same. By my count, Mendes won only 25% of the director nominations he was up for last awards season. Zhao has barely struck out this season, winning nearly every directing nomination she's been up for. And unlike Mendes last year, Zhao has unanimous support at Gold Derby.

Pick: Chloé Zhao -3335

A view of the Chadwick Boseman memorial at Howard University on August 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo credit: Brian Stukes/Getty Images.

Best Actor

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom)-250096.2%
Anthony Hopkins (The Father)+80011.1%
Riz Ahmed (The Sound of Metal)+14006.7%
Gary Oldman (Mank)+20004.8%
Steven Yeun (Minari)+25003.8%

Hopkins is the only serious challenger here, but given that he has already won for acting and Boseman is up for his first win posthumously, it's highly unlikely voters throw a curveball here.

Pick: Chadwick Boseman -2000

Best Actress

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)+12544.4%
Viola Davis (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom)+18035.7%
Frances McDormand (Nomadland)+35022.2%
Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday)+60014.3%
Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman)+14006.7%

The four precursors were split four ways, with Mulligan winning at Critics Choice, Davis at Screen Actors Guild, McDormand at the BAFTAs, and Dat at the Golden Globes. Ben Zauzmer, author of OscarMetrics, gives Mulligan only a 30.7% chance to win as the frontrunner, and the Gold Derby experts have Davis as the frontrunner at 42.4%.

This is one where fading Mulligan for one of Davis, McDormand and Day is the play. I initially liked the odds on McDormand and Day more, but Davis is the best value now after a late catapult into frontrunner status among Gold Derby experts.

Pick: Viola Davis +180

Best Supporting Actor

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah)-200080%
Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)+90025%
Paul Raci (Sound of Metal)+120016.7%
Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami)+14006.7%
Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah)+25004.8%

Kaluuya is the ninth actor to sweep the Golden Globes, BAFTA, Critic's Choice, and SAG since the Critic's Choice expanded to five nominees in 2003, joining Brad Pitt, Mahershala Ali, Sam Rockwell, J.K. Simmons, Christopher Plummer, Christoph Waltz, Heath Ledger and Javier Bardem.

As you may have guessed, they all went on to take home the Oscar. A bigger question than who is going to win this award is how the does a Best Picture-nominated film have no  lead actors?

Pick: Daniel Kaluuya -2000

Best Supporting Actress

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
Youn Yuh-jung (Minari)-50083.3%
Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)+30025%
Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy)+65013.3%
Olivia Colman (The Father)+10009.1%
Amanda Seyfried (Mank)+17005.6%

Gold Derby is batting 1.000 here: Their consensus No. 1 pick for Supporting Actress has won the Oscar each time since they began tracking data, from Octavia Spencer (The Help) in 2012 right on through Laura Dern (Marriage Story) last year. With 100% of editors and 97% of experts in agreement, it's looking like Youn Yuh-jung (Minari) did not gulp down that bowl of piss in vein.

Pick: Youn Yuh-jung (-500)

South Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn, right, and the cast of "Minari" pose for a portrait in Park City, Utah. Photo credit: Emily Assiran/Getty Images for Pizza Hut.

Best Original Screenplay

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
Promising Young Woman-45582%
The Trial of the Chicago 7+27526.7%
Sound of Metal+33002.9%
Judas and the Black Messiah+33002.9%

Promising Young Woman is overvalued, but it has won over The Trial of the Chicago 7 almost every time they've gone head-to-head for a screenplay award. The former is the Gold Derby editors' top choice, and while eight of nine editors' No. 1s have won, we did see a film that garnered 0% support just two years ago win (Green Book).

That makes Minari worth a long shot bet, as it has won a number of screenplay awards and is likely being undervalued due to ineligibility potentially costing it some precursors.

Pick:Minari +1400 (down to +800)

Best Adapted Screenplay

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
The Father+30025%
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm+80011.1%
One Night in Miami+14006.7%
The White Tiger+33002.9%

Nomadland has its strengths, but I'm not sure a deliberately plotless screenplay should be considered a lock. The Gold Derby editors agree: 91% are on The Father, not Nomadland. The Father's expert odds also imply a 51.5% chance of winning after a late surge, so there's major value here.

Pick:The Father +300 (down to -105)

Best International Feature

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
Another Round (Denmark)-125092.6%
Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia and Herzegovina)+65013.3%
Collective (Romania)+12007.7%
Better Days (Hong Kong)+25003.8%
The Man Who Sold His Skin (Tunisia)+25003.8%

Another Round has gone from -670 to -1250 over the past few weeks. This is another category where Gold Derby is batting 1.000, and Another Round is the unanimous No. 1 among editors, experts, top-24 users, and All-Star users. My model gives it a 98.2% chance of winning.

Pick:Another Round -1250

Best Documentary Feature

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
My Octopus Teacher-50083.3%
Crip Camp+20002.9%
The Mole Agent+50002.0%

My Octopus Teacher has been steamed from -335 to -500, while Time has gone down from +250 to +400. The film carries 92% of the Gold Derby editors vote and 82% of the expert vote. Films No. 1 for both editors and experts are 7-for-7 thus far, and no film with at least 70% of the expert vote has lost.

Pick:My Octopus Teacher -500

Best Documentary Short Subject

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
A Love Song for Latasha-25071.4%
A Concerto is a Conversation+35022.2%
Hunger Ward+12007.7%
Do Not Split+14006.7%

A Love Song for Latasha has gone by -305 to -250. while A Concerto is a Conversation has gone from +400 to +350. Half of the last eight experts to update this week have pivoted to A Concerto is a Conversation. A majority of Gold Derby editors (64%) are still in the corner of A Love Song for Latasha, but their No. 1 choice has lost in three of the past five years.

The experts' implied odds give A Concerto is a Conversation a 27.3% shot and Do Not Split a 9.1% shot, both values at their current prices.

Pick:A Concerto is a Conversation +350 (0.75 units, to -270), Do Not Split +1400 (0.25 units, to +1000)

Best Animated Feature

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
Over The Moon+28003.4%
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon+33002.9%

Soul is the unanimous choice among Gold Derby editors, and a film with unanimous editor support in this category has never lost in six instances. Making you lay $100 to win $2 is a sportsbook's way of saying "we know this is a lock, so f— you."

Pick:Soul -5000

Best Animated Short

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
If Anything Happens I Love You-33577%
Genius Loci+10008.1%
Yes People+25003.9%

If Anything Happens I Love You is the unanimous selection among Gold Derby editors and is projected to win by 84.8% of the site's experts.

Pick: If Anything Happens I Love You -335 (to -550)

From left to right: Two-time Academy Award winner Frances McDormand, director Chloé Zhao, Swankie and Linda May of "Nomadland." Photo credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images.

Best Cinematography

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
News of the World+12007.7%
Judas and the Black Messiah+14006.7%
The Trial of the Chicago 7+17005.6%

Across all categories, you'd be hard-pressed to find a stronger precursor than Best Cinematography at the Critics Choice Awards, which has predicted the Oscar winner in 11 of 12 years since its inception in 2009, a 91.6% hit rate.  Nomadland beat out a field of six other films including its top two Oscar challengers, Mank and News of the World, for the win.

Nomadland is also the Consensus top pick at Gold Derby, which historically has a 88.9% success rate.

Add it all up and Nomadland should have roughly 90% chance of victory, making its current odds favorable despite the heavy juice.

Pick:Nomadland -500 (to -900)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom-67087%
Hillbilly Elegy+12007.7%

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom has been steamed up from -400 to -670 over the past few weeks, but 91% of Gold Derby editors are in agreement about it, and they've been wrong only once in this category (in 2017, when Suicide Squad upset Star Trek Beyond in a year which the category only had three nominees).

With that being said, OscarMetrics points out that 26-of-38 (68.4%) films with the most nominations have won this award, and nomination leader Mank's odds are good enough to hedge.

Pick:Ma Rainey's Black Bottom -670 (0.9 units, to -800) | Mank +2000 (0.2 units, to +900)

Best Original Song

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
Speak Now (One Night in Miami)-15566.7%
Io Sì (Seen) (The Life Ahead)+22530.8%
Husavik (Eurovision Song Contest)+35020%
Fight for You (Judas and the Black Messiah)+17005.6%
Hear My Voice (The Trial of the Chicago 7)+33002.9%

Husavik is starting to gain steam and has gone from +400 to +355 while Speak Now comes down from -200 to -155. It's still a great value: Not only does its 28.5% expert vote handily beat out its implied probability, but it's also considered the favorite among editors with 81.8% of the vote.

The experts and editors have been wrong only once each, so this should be treated as close to a toss up between Husavik and Speak Now. Io Si is getting more love from the markets than from Gold Derby, and only one film they had ranked outside the top two has won.

My only hesitation with Husavik is that it is, without question, the #OscarsSoWhite entry of this category (see for yourself), but as the great Kanye West once said:

"Heard Yeezy was racist?
Well, I guess it's on one basis…
I only like green faces."

Pick:Husavik +350 (to +100)

Best Sound

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
Sound of Metal-200095.2%
News of the World+20004.8%

Sound of Metal is the unanimous selection at Gold Derby, but there's nothing value-wise to see here.

Pick:Sound of Metal -2000

Best Visual Effects

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
The Midnight Sky+27526.7%
The One and Only Ivan+25003.8%
Love and Monsters+25003.8%

Tenet has 93.9% of the expert vote, which offers value at its implied odds.

Pick:Tenet -560 (to -1500)

Best Original Score

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
Da 5 Bloods+25003.8%
News of the World+25003.8%

Soul's odds have jumped from -1000 to -1667 over the past few weeks. Soul is the unanimous top choice among Gold Derby editors, and they haven't missed one yet. It's also predicted to win by 97% of experts, and no film with 80% or more of the expert vote has failed to take home the Oscar.

Pick:Soul (to -2500)

Best Film Editing

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
Sound of Metal-11854.1%
The Trial of the Chicago 7-11052.4%
The Father+20004.8%
Promising Young Woman+40002.4%

Gold Derby is split on Sound of Metal and The Trial of the Chicago 7, but latter is trending upward. I think that's the right call, as its editor, 64-year-old Alex Baumgarten is the veteran of the group and the only one with a prior Oscar nomination (for American Hustle in 2013).

However, a third of the winners have have attracted less than 15% of expert votes, which also points to value on Nomadland (6.1%) as a longshot.

Pick:The Trial of the Chicago 7 -110 (0.8 units, to +100), Nomadland +650 (0.2 units, to +567)

Best Production Design

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom+60014.3%
News of the World+20004.8%
The Father+20004.8%

Mank has already taken home Best Production Design at Critics Choice and art BAFTA, as well as Excellence in Production Design for a Period Film at the Art Directors Guild Awards.

Since Critics Choice began awarding Production Design in 2009, there have been six other films to win for Production design at BAFTA, Critics Choice, and ADG, and all have gone on to win the Oscar.

Mank is also an unanimous selection among Gold Derby experts, editors, Top 24 Users, and All-Star Users. My model is spitting out 94.6% odds for Mank in this spot.

Pick:Mank -560 (to -1750)

Best Live Action Short

NomineeOddsImplied Prob.
The Letter Room-16762.5%
Two Distant Strangers+15040%
Feeling Through+12007.7%
The Present+12007.7%
White Eye+25003.9%

The Letter Room has been the frontrunner for much of Oscars season, but as the awards date have approached, Two Distant Strangers has taken the lead, getting the nod from 76% of experts and 64% of editors at Gold Derby.

Pick:Two Distant Strangers +150 (to -175)

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