Last Minute Oscar Tips: The Dark Horses Worth Betting On

Hollywood’s night of nights is upon us: The 83rd annual Academy Awards. In just a couple of hours the stars will take to the red carpet and be put to the test by architectural stiletto heels and Richard Wilkins’ dazzling journalistic repartee before Anne Hathaway and James Franco take to the stage in what could be the best/worst hosting job ever – that means there’s still time to get your bets on.

That’s right: The Oscars isn’t just the back-patting session for industry insiders and fodder for movie buffs and celebrity obsessives that you think it is; according to online betting service it’s also big business for the gambling community as punters try to work out who will be honoured at the biggest annual ceremony of the film industry.

In gambling terms, at last year’s awards ceremony all the major categories were taken out by sure things, and this year Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and the Best Supporting roles are also overwhelmed by favourites – ergo chances of cleaning up big time are stymied by low odds. The great thing about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences is that sometimes those bastards like to throw a spanner into the works for shock value. This is the entertainment industry after all.

Here’s our tips if you are want to take a punt on a high-odds high-return Oscars horse.

BEST ACTOR – JAVIER BARDEM Colin Firth is currently ranking as the outright favourite with James Franco nipping at his heels at second best odds. We’ve been rating Javier Bardem’s performance in Biutiful. The film has been virtually ignored by the Oscar campaign juggernaut and because the film premiered such a long time ago a lot of people have forgotten Bardem is on the shortlist. But don’t forget he won Best Actor at Cannes last year for his hailed performance. He’s a long shot, but if there’s going to be a surprise victor over the favourite, Firth, we like the chances of this genuine dark horse.

BEST ACTRESS – NICOLE KIDMAN Bookies have placed Natalie Portman and her dichotomous performance in Black Swan as the horse to beat, however the Academy has a history of rewarding age before beauty… perhaps to encourage younger actresses and actors not to peak too soon after the whole Tatum O’Neill thing? All the nominees in this category pulled out fantastic performances, but Nicole Kidman’s wrenching turn as a grieving mother in a movie with a strong message (Rabbit Hole) is just the kind of Oscar bait Academy voters gravitate to.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – JOHN HAWKES In another highly competitive category Christian Bale is the man to beat, after scooping most of the awards shows so far. He’s the likely (and probably deserving) winner so you might as well take a long shot and put your money on John Hawkes from Winter’s Bone who’s paying 100:1 for the win. His transformation into a hard talking, backwater meth addict from Kenny Powers’ put-upon brother Dustin in Eastbound & Down is something else.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – JACKI WEAVER Melissa Leo and Hailee Steinfeld are the current favourites in the tightest race of the entire awards, but we still have our fingers crossed for Jacki Weaver who is certainly in with a shot.

BEST DIRECTOR – DARREN ARONOFSKY This is a tough call. David Fincher is the current favourite for The Social Network and of the nominees it is the most likely victor. But Darren Aronofsky’s artful, claustrophobic, highly ambitious (although at times overly melodramatic) work on Black Swan might get a nod from Academy voters.

BEST PICTURE – THE SOCIAL NETWORK There is a real possibility that the Academy will choose this exciting, multi-dimensional drama of a contemporary billionaire and his social networking website over bookies favourite: Tom Hooper’s masterful historical drama The King’s Speech.

Internet users have suggested a different outcome to three of the most hotly debated categories, after Wired revealed the findings of social media monitoring firm Meltwater who calculated the following outcomes:

What are your picks? Please share your tips in the comments section.