Jake’s Takes Oscars Edition: Your Betting Guide to the 96th Annual Academy Awards

Welcome movie fans!

You Jake’s Takes heads out there may not know that when I’m not thinking about, talking about or writing about NFL football, I’m a pretty avid movie aficionado. Yet another thing you may not know is that I, Jake, am a film school grad and worked for many years in the Film and Television industry before finding my way to sports media.

If you’re reading this and also consider yourself a movie buff you might be of the mind that the Academy Awards don’t represent the utmost peak of film criticism and much like the Grammys are to music, sometimes opt to recognize popularity over greatness. To that I say fantastic! Because you see, the convergence of popular and well-made is the convergence we need to realize betting glory on Oscar night. If the awards were more niche, then guessing the winners would prove more nebulous. The somewhat predictable nature of the Academy Awards, not to mention how they’re informed by the Golden Globes before them, make for great betting opportunities.

If betting on the Oscars never crossed your mind but this article has piqued your curiosity then allow me to be your guide to betting on the 96th annual Academy Awards.

Let’s get to the categories! 

Best Picture

Poor Things+2000
The Zone of Interest+2000
The Holdovers+2500

I’m going to address the big dog right away because it’ll help to inform our decisions in other categories further down. 

This category looks to be a foregone conclusion with Oppenheimer currently running away with the odds. The reason I’m getting this category out of the way first is that it serves to put us in the minds of Academy voters. Without a doubt, Oppenheimer would be a worthy best picture win despite not having the emotional weight of a “Zone of Interest”, the eye-popping creativity of “Poor Things” or the genuine heart of “The Holdovers”. What it does have is a massive scale, a massive ensemble cast who delivered top-notch performances, a larger-than-life director who is likely due for this level of praise and a generally crowd-pleasing, buzz-worthy run in theatres. 

Oppenheimer is the more complete movie of the front runners and therefore the likeliest to be voted on when the decision is tough. I liked Oppenheimer’s three aforementioned competitors better than Oppenheimer itself but I will gladly acknowledge the breadth of achievement the film ultimately is.

Oppenheimer wins best picture running away and there’s nothing more to say about it.

Pick: Oppenheimer -5000

Best Picture – Oppenheimer


Best Actor

Cillian Murphy-1000
Paul Giamatti+550
Bradley Cooper+1400
Jeffrey Wright+8000

With Oppenheimer’s best picture pick out of the way, further categories allow us a little room for speculation. 

Starting with the Best Actor category where the man who became Oppenheimer himself; Cillian Murphy owns the likeliest odds but “The Holdovers” Paul Giamatti owns a legitimate claim to the prize. 

Giamatti was wonderful as the crotchety, perpetually annoyed private boarding school teacher Paul Hunham. In contrast with Oppenheimer’s breakneck pacing and stunning visuals, The Holdovers lulls you in slowly and reveals its heart and soul gradually, without you even really knowing. Movies like that require a lot of heavy lifting from its performers and none achieve this more than Giamatti. 

Though he sits at +550 odds at the time of writing, I think Giamatti is not only deserving of the Best Actor award but that he ultimately gets it.

Pick: Paul Giamatti (The Holdovers) +550

Best Actor – Paul Giamatti


Best Actress

Lily Gladstone-225
Emma Stone+162
Sandra Huller+1200
Carey Mulligan+6600

In what is truly a two-actress race, Lily Gladstone and Emma (regular) Stone both lead the odds on the back of tour de force performances. Without Gladstone, Martin Scorsese’s epic Killers of the Flower Moon is bereft of soul, goodness and emotional weight. Surrounded by villains, Gladstone’s portrayal of Mollie Kyle is heart-wrenching and lends the movie appropriate gravitas.

Emma Stone’s equally powerful performance in the far more bizarre and zany Poor Things is bounding with energy from the get-go. Stone’s character Bella is a force of nature, unchained from social convention as we watch her discover life’s boundless eccentricities.

Without either of these performances their respective films fall far flatter, both women deserve tremendous praise but of course, there can only be one Oscar winner.

I’ll take my cues from the Golden Globes here, and despite both women emerging victorious (Gladstone for best Actress dramatic, and Stone in Comedy or Musical) it’s ultimately dramatic roles which I feel get the edge with Academy voters. Lily Gladstone narrowly beats out Emma for the trophy.

Pick: Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon) -250

Best Actress – Lily Gladstone


Best Supporting Actor

Robert Downey Jr.-5000
Ryan Gosling+2000
Robert De Niro+2000
Mark Ruffalo+2000

Much respect for all the nominees here, particularly Mark Ruffalo and Ryan Gosling whose performances I thoroughly enjoyed but this is a slam dunk win for Downey Jr.

Not only did RDJ turn in a great bit of acting but he’s also nominated at a time and an age where the Academy voters will heavily weigh his being deserving of recognition. Nominated twice before, for each Actor (Chaplin) and Supporting Actor (Tropic Thunder), Downey Jr. is due. No point exhausting it any further, Iron Man claims the little Golden Man.

Pick: Robert Downey Jr. (Oppenheimer) -5000

Best Supporting Actor – Robert Downey Jr.


Best Supporting Actress

Da’Vine Joy Randolph-5000
Danielle Brooks+2000
Emily Blunt+2000
America Ferrera+2000

Another slam dunk here, as Da’Vine Joy Randolph is primed to claim the Golden Globe and Academy Award for her performance in The Holdovers. No disrespect to the other nominees but no other actress embodied the themes of their films more than Randolph’s portrayal character Mary Lamb.

As I touched upon in my pick of Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers is a film that reveals itself to the audience very slowly, very naturally and the character of Lamb truly punctuates that style. She is someone putting on a brave face in the wake of utter tragedy and unfairness, and the concept of how unfair the world can be is paramount in the film.

When Randolph’s character does inevitably break down from the weight of everything around her it’s a catharsis for the audience, rather than something to look away from. It’s an important role in a great film and truly justifies the category of supporting actress.

Pick: Da’Vine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers) -5000

Best Supporting Actress – Da’Vine Joy Randolph


Best Director

Christopher Nolan-3300
Yorgos Lanthimos+1200
Martin Scorsese+2000
Justine Triet+2000

It’s a testament to Poor Things and director Yorgos Lanthimos himself that he’s been placed this close odds-wise to Nolan. Nolan is winning this award, it’s a foregone conclusion but I have no doubt Lanthimos will be nominated again for, if not win this award in the future.

As much respect that I have for the creativity at play in Poor Things, there’s no beating Nolan here. He’ll claim his first Academy Award for Best Director before returning to the stage later in the night to claim another for Best Picture.

Pick: Christopher Nolan (Oppenheimer) -3300

Best Director – Oppenheimer


Best Film Editing

Anatomy of a Fall+400
Killers of the Flower Moon+900
The Holdovers+1800

It’s been difficult to try to parse out a potential upset from the various Oscar categories this year, but I think I’ve found an award to target in Best Film Editing. A movie like Oppenheimer is typically perfect territory for recognition in editing. It’s frenetic, performance-driven and has so much to say within the confines of a motion picture runtime. Editing is so crucial in conveying information that in a lot of cases, the audience is discovering for the first time. Typically, I’d stump for the favourite here to win, but there’s a dimension to the nominees that may well land us an unexpected windfall.

You see, also nominated in this category is Killers of the Flower Moon, and more importantly editor Thelma Schoonmaker. Schoonmaker is an absolute legend in the field of film editing and is perhaps the greatest film editor to ever live. Having already won three Academy Awards for editing Raging Bull, The Aviator and The Departed it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see the Academy honour the 84-year-old Schoonmaker with her fourth Oscar trophy.

Therefore I’m making Killers of the Flower Moon my upset pick for the 2024 Academy Awards.

Pick: Thelma Schoonmaker (Killers of the Flower Moon) +900

Best Film Editing – Killers of the Flower Moon


Best Cinematography

Poor Things+900
Killers of the Flower Moon+1400

The last award category I’ll cover in this special edition of Jake’s Takes is Cinematography. Another upset spot I like, and it’s again Oppenheimer paying the price just like it was in Editing.

Oppenheimer is undoubtedly a beautifully shot film and I don’t mean to disparage cinematographer and frequent Nolan collaborator Hoyte van Hoytema by picking Poor Things over it. That being said I can’t in good conscience root against such a wonderfully creative and surreal visual experience Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan crafted for Poor Things.

Ryan uses the size of the frame in ways that feel almost as if it’s a character onto itself, Bella’s journey is mirrored by the way things are shot and displayed to the audience. Whatever you end up thinking of the film itself, the way it’s presented is such a treat.

So another upset over Oppenheimer is my final pick of this 96th annual Academy Awards betting guide. I hope you enjoy watching the Oscars or enjoy not watching them! Either way, get out there and watch more movies!

Pick: Poor Things +900

Best Cinematography – Poor Things