Oscars Tips | 29th February 2016 | Sky Movies Oscars


IT'S one of the biggest nights in America on Sunday as the Academy Awards takes place. We got film journalist Conor Brennan to pick out some value picks.

Oscars | Sunday 01:30 | Sky Movies Oscars

I love films. But the Oscars? That’s a whole other matter. Whenever I think of the Oscars, I only hear the unkind but insightful words of Trainspotting’s Sick Boy. He opines in rather colourful terms that the Oscars mean…very little indeed, and generally count as nothing more than a sympathy vote.

It’s therefore often difficult to separate what I think is good from what I think will satisfy the often erratic parameters of the Academy’s voting standards.

Not that I’m saying that Kevin Kline’s slapstick overacting in A Fish Called Wanda didn’t constitute a heartfelt and nuanced performance or anything.

So who is going to do it this year? Which Hollywood megastar has donned the prosthetic nose of victory? Disregarding the usual predictability matrices and patterns involving Golden Globes and other awards already garnered, let’s just dive right in.

Best Director | Sunday 01:30 | Sky Movies Oscars

It would be wonderful to see veteran George Miller do the business here but Fury Road alas seems destined for accolades of a more technical nature. Those of an Irish persuasion, like myself, will likely be rooting for the always excellent Lenny Abrahamson to triumph here and as I'll explain later I'm amazed to see his odds so big.

Tom McCarthy, no stranger to the Academy Awards but facing his first nod as Best Director, will be able to hedge his bets with the Original Screenplay category. And the Academy may think the same way. If nothing else, the gravity of its subject matter should see Spotlight earn some gold on the night.

I have overlooked The Big Short here and in other categories, but I reckon director Adam McKay’s best chance this year will be for a co-writing credit in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Expect a battle there with Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Colm Tobin’s Brooklyn and Drew Goddard’s much-praised work on The Martian.

Though dust has barely formed on his statue for Birdman last year, and discounting the limited chances for most directors to snag an Oscar two years on the trot (only two in the Academy’s history) Alejandro González Iñárritu seems the likely victor here. Again. Overall though it’s just sad that Todd Haynes never made the cut.

For a value pick though I was amazed to see Abrahamson as the outsider. He was the second favourite in my book and at 125/1 with Skybet I can't resist backing him.

Best Actor | Sunday 01:30 | Sky Movies Oscars

Notwithstanding the fact that the Academy had every right to retract last year’s Oscar on the back of his subsequent and bizarre turn in Jupiter Ascending, I don’t favour Eddie Redmayne to walk away with this one. Nor Matt Damon for that matter.

Biopics are always looked upon fondly and Michael Fassbender, for all his acting chops, is also enjoying his first Oscar nomination for a lead role.

The Emmy-festooned Bryan Cranston is also facing his first crack at a statue. He’s probably due one and, to boot, is in a movie about Hollywood. Which the Academy generally love.

Overall, Leonardo DiCaprio remains the safest pick. Like Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment and Martin Scorsese for The Departed, you’d like to think that Leo has earned an accumulative Oscar at this stage.

He’s good in the movie, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not supporting-role-in-Gilbert-Grape good. Hey, if getting repeatedly mauled by a bear won’t bag you an Oscar, what will?

It would be a big shock if Leo didn't emerge triumphant on Sunday night but odds of 33/1 look too large on Fassbender. The biopic route has often proved fruitful and he's worth a glance.

Caveat the above with the fact that, not too long ago, I backed Bruce Dern on the back of his lifetime achievements as best actor in Nebraska at 100/1. You were robbed, Bruce!

Best Actress | Sunday 01:30 | Sky Movies Oscars

Cate Blanchett always delivers and there are surely some awards forthcoming for Carol (ahem, Rooney Mara for Best Supporting Actress). With two Oscars under her belt, not to mention several nominations, you can imagine that Cate is the last person, to use Sick Boy’s terms, to merit a sympathy vote. Ditto J-Law.

Aimed at a different demographic than its contenders, but no less relevant, Charlotte Rampling’s turn in two-hander 45 Years has received rave reviews.

The battle here is most likely between Brie Larson for Room and Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn, a movie which by all account wasn’t aiming for awards but seems to have attracted them any way.

Larson is best price 1/16 while Ronan is 14/1 so I'm sure you can imagine which one I'll be backing here. Once again, it's a price that just looks too big.

So there you have it: my Oscar views, for all their tea-leaf reading, crystal-ball-gazing, finger-in-the-air worth. Want an easy one? Inside Out for Best Animated Feature. Above all, best of luck and wishing you the happiest of punting.

Best Bets

Best Director – Lenny Abrahamson (125/1 Skybet)

Best Actor – Michael Fassbender to win (33/1 Coral)

Best Actress – Saoirse Ronan to win (14/1 888 Sport)

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