Mar 26, 2021
Mar 26, 2021

Oscars 2021: Betting preview and predictions

93rd Academy Awards preview

Oscars 2021: Best Picture and Best Director odds

Best Actor and Best Actress predictions

Who and what films are the favourites at the Oscars?

Oscars 2021: Betting preview and predictions

After being delayed by two months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest prizes in film this year are finally set to be announced at the 93rd Academy Awards on April 25. Who are the favourites, what nominees could represent good value, and what should bettors keep an eye on? Read on to ensure that your predictions can make the most of Oscars season.

Oscars 2021 build-up

Following a year during which the global film industry was heavily disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Academy made the decision last June to postpone this year’s Oscars from February 28 to April 25. As a consequence, the eligibility period for nominees was extended, meaning the films nominated this year were released between January 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021. Following suit from 2019 and 2020, this will be the third successive Oscars ceremony to be held without an overall host.

After last year’s awards reignited long-standing criticism of the Oscars for underrepresenting women and ethnic minorities, this year’s nominees have set several diversity milestones. Most notably, for the first time ever, two women (Chloe Zhao for Nomadland and Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman) have been nominated for Best Director.

Meanwhile, Steven Yeun and Riz Ahmed are the first Asian-American and Muslim respectively to be nominated for Best Actor, while Chadwick Boseman is the first black actor to be posthumously nominated for the same category. Viola Davis and Andra Day’s nominations for Best Actress also meant that two black women were included in the category for the first time since 1973.

Unlike other awards shows that have pressed ahead with ‘virtual’ ceremonies as a consequence of COVID-19, the organisers have instead confirmed that they want people to attend the Dolby Theatre ad Union Station in person. Indeed, the producers have stated that they have gone to “great lengths to provide a safe and enjoyable evening for all”.

Oscars 2021: Best Picture odds



Total nominations




The Trial of the Chicago 7






Promising Young Woman



Judas and the Black Messiah






Sound of Metal



The Father



Major award winners this year:

  • Golden Globes (Best Drama Film), Critics’ Choice AwardsNomadland

Chloe Zhao’s neo-Western drama Nomadland (1.260*) has asserted itself as the firm favourite for Best Picture, after winning the equivalent award at both the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards earlier this year. Rated as the best film of 2020 by Metacritic, it was warmly received by audiences and reviewers alike, and was labelled by Rotten Tomatoes as “a poetic character study on the forgotten and downtrodden”.

However, recent years have dictated that being the favourite to win this category is somewhat dangerous territory, with three of the last four Best Picture favourites failing to pick up the award. Most notably, in 2019 Roma closed at 1.321 but was pipped by Green Book on the night, before last year 1917 lost out to Parasite despite closing at an unassailable 1.389.

Nomadland is the favourite among the eight flms nominated for Best Picture.

Nomadland is being pursued by three films that the market is currently struggling to separate – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (10.600*), Minari (10.730*), and Promising Young Woman (11.970*).

The former was written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, and is based on the true story of a group of anti-Vietnam war protestors who were charged with conspiracy. More notably, it arguably represents Netflix’s best chance yet of earning this award, after they once again missed out last year with The Irishman and Marriage Story.

Fresh off the heels of Parasite’s win last year boosting the popularity of South Korean films, Minari is a American-Korean production chronicling a family of South Korean immigrants who move to rural America during the 1980s. It collected the Grand Jury award at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and could ride the wave of approval from those who argue that the Oscars need to work harder to represent foreign language films.

Meanwhile, Promising Young Woman is a black comedy from Emerald Fennell in her directorial debut. The story concerns a woman who attempts to seek revenge for a friend who was the victim of sexual assault, and was lauded by critics for being an edgy thriller that simultaneously raised awareness of serious issues.

Outsiders this year include Fred Hampton biopic Judas and the Black Messiah (30.880*), Mank (41.760*), which can boast an unmatched 10 nominations in total, and Sound of Metal (45.380*), the story of a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing. Along with The Father (116.280*), all four received immensely positive critical acclaim, but do not appear primed to earn the momentum required to stand a chance of winning.

Oscars 2021: Best Director odds




Chloe Zhao



David Fincher



Lee Isaac Chung



Emerald Fennell

Promising Young Woman


Thomas Vinterberg

Another Round


Major award winners this year:

  • Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards – Chloe Zhao (Nomadland)

If the odds are to be believed, the Best Director category is overwhelmingly Chloe Zhao’s (1.073*) to lose for Nomadland. The Golden Globes and Critics Choice’ Awards are among a multitude of accolades her directing has earned, alongside reviews that praised the film’s enticing nature despite its non-narrative structure.

David Fincher has received his third Best Director nomination for 2020's Mank.

The opportunity for Zhao to make Oscars history has also arguably proved favourable for her chances. She would be only the second woman to win Best Director after Kathyrn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2009, as well as the first Asian woman. Following a 10-year period in which 49 of the 50 nominees in this category were men, many will be clamouring to ensure her efforts are recognised.

Not for the first time, David Fincher (13.640*) was commended for bringing an enjoyably twisted storyline to life in Mank. The film follows the story of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz’s attempts to develop the script for Citizen Kane, and Fincher’s use of black and white was praised by Los Angeles Times’ Justin Chang for creating a “pleasurably discombobulating experience that demands your heightened attention”.

Lee Isaac Chung (13.640*) is also in the running for Minari. The film, which he also wrote, is based on his own experiences as a child, and was well received by multiple critics for complementing emotional depth with a simplistic narrative. Chung’s South Korean counterpart Boon Jong-Ho won this award last year for Parasite, and in a similar vein Chung has expressed his desire to help “Western audiences connect with stories that may seem foreign at first”.

Finally, Emerald Fennell (25.240*) was praised by IndieWire for enabling a “fresh and wild take” on female empowerment in Promising Young Woman. Another Round is about four friends who begin to consume more alcohol in a bid to improve their personal and social lives, for which Thomas Vinterberg (30.700*) was applauded for balancing elements of comedy and drama.

Oscars 2021: Acting awards odds

Best Actor

Best Actress

Best Supporting Actor

Best Supporting Actress

Chadwick Boseman - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Carey Mulligan - Promising Young Woman

Daniel Kaluuya - Judas and the Black Messiah

Maria Bakalova - Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Riz Ahmed - Sound of Metal

Andra Day - The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Sacha Baron Cohen - The Trial of the Chicago 7

Yoon Yuh-jung - Minari

Anthony Hopkins - The Father

Frances McDormand - Nomadland

Lakeith Stanfield - Judas and the Black Messiah

Glenn Close - Hillbilly Elegy

Steven Yuen - Minari

Viola Davis - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Paul Raci - Sound of Metal

Olivia Colman - The Father

Gary Oldman - Mank

Vanessa Kirby - Pieces of a Woman

Leslie Odom Jr. - One Night in Miami

Amanda Seyfried - Mank

Major award winners this year:

  • Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards - Best Actor: Chadwick Boseman - Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Best Supporting Actor: Daniel Kaluuya - Judas and the Black Messiah
  • Golden Globes - Best Actress: Andra Day - The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Best Supporting Actress: Jodie Foster - The Mauritanian
  • Critics’ Choice Awards - Best Actress: Carey Mulligan - Promising Young Woman, Best Supporting Actress: Maria Bakalova - Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Unlike last year, when all four of the acting categories were won by overwhelming favourites, the odds suggest they will be more difficult to call this time round.

Chadwick Boseman’s performance as Levee Green in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is the frontrunner for Best Actor at 1.092*. Boseman died of colon cancer in August 2020, meaning this is the first posthumous nomination for an acting award at the Oscars since Heath Ledger won Best Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight in 2009. Boseman’s performance was labelled the “darkest yet finest” of his career, and has collected a myriad of awards in recent months.

His main contenders appear to be Riz Ahmed (10.450*) as Ruben Stone in Sound of Metal and Anthony Hopkins (10.870*) as Anthony in The Father. Both were revered as emotionally powerful performances covering the struggles of a drummer losing his hearing and an elderly man coming to terms with his dementia respectively.

The Best Supporting Actress category looks set to be both the most intriguing and closely contested this year.

Despite a few lukewarm responses to her performance, Carey Mulligan (1.617*) as Cassie Thomas in Promising Young Woman has emerged as the Best Actress favourite. While Rotten Tomatoes suggested it was a “career highlight”, others such as Vairety’s Dennis Harvey questioned her suitability for the role.

If Mulligan doesn’t win, Andra Day (5.580*), Frances McDormand (6.090*), and Viola Davis (8.880*) comprise a somewhat open field. Day beat Mulligan to claim Best Actress at the Golden Globes for her titular role in The United States vs. Billie Holiday, with her performance described as carrying a film that received otherwise average reviews. While McDormand was revered for her work in Nomadland, some reviewers did suggest that Davis was outshone by Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

In the Best Supporting Actor category, Daniel Kaluuya (1.220*) is favourite ahead of his Judas and the Black Messiah co-star Lakeith Stanfield (12.570*), albeit amidst controversy. Warner Bros. campaigned for Stanfield to be nominated for Best Actor, and his inclusion in this category instead came with surprise and confusion.

Sacha Boren Cohen separates the pair in the odds at 6.840* for his performance as Abbie Hoffman in The Trial of the Chicago 7, which was considered “show stealing” by IndieWire. Leslie Odom Jr. is also rated as a dark horse by some at 19.610*.

The Best Supporting Actress category looks set to be both the most intriguing and closely contested this year, as reflected by the fact that Jodie Foster won the award at the Golden Globes for The Mauritanian but failed to even garner a nomination. Instead, Maria Bakalova is the narrow and surprising favourite for her role in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm at 2.520*. Several reviewers suggested she was the comedic highlight of the film and turned in an “endearingly three-dimensional” performance.

Minari’s Yoon Yuh-jung is in close pursuit at 2.750*, for playing the grandmother to the family who suffers a stroke shortly after she joins them in the US. Glenn Close (7.020*), Olivia Colman (7.470*), and Amanda Seyfried (8.810*) complete a strong category in which the market is favouring the unlikely contenders over the established names.

Check out the odds for all the major categories at this year's Oscars with Pinnacle.

Odds subject to change

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