Top Prop Bets to Target for the 2020 Academy Awards

| January 5, 2020 7:03 am PDT

The New Year has arrived, and the framework for the 2020 Oscars has arguably already been set thanks to viewer feedback, countless film festivals, and general gossip.

But this is where we really start seeing what the top critics and voters are thinking.

Joaquin Phoenix has been on a turbulent tour promoting his controversial Joker flick, but as ugly as the material was, this is a vehicle that could potentially support numerous Oscars nods.

There’s no denying it’s lost some steam, however. At the same time, heavy-hitters like The Irishman, Marriage Story, and Parasite have stated their claim and will be legit threats in major categories.

Anyone looking to bet on the 2020 Oscars will want to pay close attention to how the 2020 Golden Globes (January 5th) play out. Depending on the year, this event has the potential to be a virtual preview of what we’ll see in the Oscars.

This year could be a bit different, of course. I’d recommend taking a look at my 2020 Golden Globes predictions before getting ready for your Oscars betting in 2020.

The 92nd installment of the Academy Awards rolls out the red carpet on February 9th, which means the clock is ticking for bettors to make the call on numerous Oscars prop bets like which movie will win Best Picture and more.

To get you ready, let’s take a look at the most updated 2020 Oscars odds and offer some early Academy Award predictions.

92nd Academy Awards – Odds for Best Picture

The biggest category of them all is Best Picture. We’ve seen artsy flicks take this award, indie films have shocked us all, and there has even been a snafu where the wrong winner was announced.

Best Picture can be pretty much anything, but if you look back at recent winners, the movie that stands above the rest tends to be rather powerful, whether it be emotionally devastating, uplifting, or downright savage.

There is inconsistency to this award, though.

Green Book won in 2019, The Shape of Water took home top honors the year before, and Moonlight won in 2017. These are three incredibly different types of films, and not everyone would say they spoke for that specific year of film.

The one thing these movies all had in common, of course, is they had emotional performances and powerful stories. Keep that in mind as you bet on who will win Best Picture this Oscars season.

Oscars Best Picture Favorites

That logic of combining versatile acting and elite storytelling led me to pick Marriage Story the first time I looked ahead to the 2020 Academy Awards.

The problem is it has lost steam over the past several months. It gained a little value (now at +500), but it’s been leap-frogged by The Irishman and Parasite. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, consistently one of the best reviewed films, has held strong as a viable contender waiting in the shadows.

I’m out on Parasite just because we’ve never seen a non-English film win. If bettors got a little more value for it, though, it could be an interesting sleeper.

As things stand, The Irishman feels like a strong favorite, and it’s not crazy to think this masterpiece could be the 77-year-old Martin Scorsese’s last shot at another win.

Scorsese powered home a win via The Departed back in 2007, and while this one wasn’t quite as fun, it is arguably far more powerful.

Best Picture Sleepers at the Oscars

We don’t often see huge Oscars upsets coming out of nowhere in this category, but the odds could shift, and a true sleeper could emerge as a threat.

In terms of pricing, the only Oscars sleepers I’d be overly wary of are Joker (+800), Ford v Ferrari (+1400), A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (+1600), and The Lighthouse (+1800).

I don’t think any of these really stand up and scream “best movie of the year,” but they were all fantastic in their own way. Joker is about as far down as I’d go, but as I’ve said countless times before, it probably doesn’t have what it takes to get the win.

Of course, it’s a nominee at the Golden Globes, and if it wins there, I’ll be forced to reconsider my stance.

Final Pick for Oscars Best Picture

Ultimately, I am not anticipating a big upset here. The Irishman is a classic Scorsese marathon that keeps you sucked in the entire way. You’d think it would be exhausting, but it’s actually exhilarating.

I won’t be mad if there’s an upset here, as this is a truly stacked category. But The Irishman deserves to win and probably will.

  • The Irishman

2020 Oscars Best Actor Odds

This one feels a bit more obvious. Even though Joker may not take home the hardware for Best Picture, it’s still a tentative threat because of Phoenix’s performance that drips with rage and humility.

Phoenix’s turn as Arthur Fleck lends something redeemable to a psychopath, even if it is disturbing. The point is this is theater, however, and it’s hard to find an actor who cranked one out of the ballpark further than Phoenix did.

His acting was so great that talks of a Joker sequel are already popping. I even recently looked at some Joker 2 prop bets that need to happen.

I am liking Phoenix here, but he’s far from alone in the race to take home Best Actor at the 2020 Oscars.

Oscars Best Actor Favorites

Brace for a big price adjustment when it comes to Best Actor nods. An upset? Not so much.

When talking true favorites, right now it’s Phoenix, and in a distant second is Adam Driver. Driver could easily just pull off the upset if you combine his efforts in both Marriage Story and The Report, but either way, he’s at his usual best dancing between rage-filled temper tantrums and controlled chaos.

Driver is awesome at everything he does, but it does feel like he’s often the same person. Phoenix gets totally lost in Joker and literally becomes this mad man we partially want to root for and also completely fear.

It could be a tight race between these two, but there could be sleepers that rise to contention over the next month.

Sleepers to Win Best Actor at the Oscars

The pricing is going to tighten up top, probably to the point where Phoenix won’t even be worth betting on and Driver is the only other realistic threat. That is what a narrowed field of final Oscars nominees will do, after all.

Regardless, as things stand, you are getting killer value with a slew of viable Best Actor sleepers. It’s a long list, especially when you factor in pricing, as DiCaprio, Egerton, Banderas, and De Niro all share compelling +900 odds.

Banderas was nominated at the 2020 Golden Globes and feels sneaky, but he’s honestly the last guy of that four-pack I’d predict to win.

De Niro delivered a tour de force performance in The Irishman, Egerton truly became Elton John in Rocketman, and DiCaprio’s incredibly affable take on the fictional Rick Dalton is severely underrated perhaps due to the film’s relatively relaxed approach.

All of these actors are viable sleepers, while Christian Bale (+1400) and Jonathan Pryce (+1400) also earned Golden Globes nods. Another guy picking up steam is Adam Sandler (+3300), while the efforts from Robert Pattinson and Brad Pitt can’t go ignored, either.

Final Pick for Oscars Best Actor

Overall, I still think this is a two-man race, and the nod goes to Phoenix. His performance was just so savage and yet beautifully nuanced that it feels a little disrespectful to not honor it.

If you’re not all in on Phoenix to win Best Actor, though, the pivot play is undoubtedly Driver.

  • Joaquin Phoenix

2020 Oscars Odds to Win Best Actress

Renee Zellweger -200
Scarlett Johansson +400
Lupita Nyong’o +1300
Charlize Theron +1315
Cynthia Erivo +1600
Saoirse Ronan +1700
Awkwafina +3200
Meryl Streep +10000
Field – Any +4000

If we just combine the race for Best Actress and Best Actor, would a male for sure win in 2020?

I am honestly not so sold, seeing as Renee Zellweger channeled Judy Garland in epic fashion, and Scarlett Johansson proved once and for all that she is one of the finest actresses on the circuit.

Best Actress Favorites

Zellweger and Johansson are undoubtedly the top two threats to take home Best Actress honors, while the favorite differs depending on where you look.

Zellweger took on a tough biopic centered around a dark time for one of America’s most beloved stars, and she absolutely crushed it.

Johansson, meanwhile, feeds off of Driver’s emotional performance and some pretty raw content in Marriage Story, but she also thrives in her role.

The odds favor one of these two, but there’s at least one viable sleeper worth betting on.

Best Actress Sleepers for 2020

The main sleeper to win Best Actress has to be Lupita Nyong’o. Jordan Peele’s second fantastic horror effort (Us) hasn’t been as appreciated as his first (Get Out), but Nyong’o is arguably his most riveting tool in an excellent film.

Nyong’o plays two versions of the same person in a battle for survival, and she leaves a lasting impression. This isn’t her first tour through the Oscars, of course, as she won Best Supporting Actress in 12 Years a Slave and has also impressed in blockbusters like The Jungle Book and Black Panther.

She’s also trending up for the Oscars, seeing as she just won Best Actress at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards.

I doubt she gets the win, but it’s arguable her effort was just as gripping as anyone else’s. It’s also a shame that she’d become just the second-ever African American winner in this category, following Halle Berry’s nod in 2001.

There have seriously not been any African American women deserving of this win in nearly 20 years? I tend to doubt that.

Along with Nyong’o, Best Actress sleepers include Charlize Theron and of course the legendary Meryl Streep. The list of potential Best Actress winners is short, though, further displaying Hollywood’s shallow reach, both for finding marquee roles for women as well as honoring them when they deliver the goods.

One major issue in Hollywood is the lack of marketability for some of these amazing performances, so in a lot of ways, you could argue up numerous sleepers.

Final Pick for Oscars Best Actress

The Golden Globes nominees for Best Actress are probably a good indicator of how we should bet this year, though.

For me, that takes this down to Johansson or Zellweger. Due to Marriage Story carrying a little more heat than Judy, I don’t mind aiming a bit higher and pulling for Johansson to get the upset.

  • Scarlett Johansson

Odds to Win Best Director at 2020 Oscars

Bong Joon Ho +140
Martin Scorsese +300
Quentin Tarantino +400
Sam Mendes +650
Todd Phillips +1400
Noah Baumbach +3000
Greta Gerwig +3300
Taika Waititi +4000
James Mangold +12000
Field – Any +5000

Wrapping up the major 2020 Oscars categories is the race for Best Director. Bong Joon Ho tentatively leads the way over at thanks to huge hit Parasite.

He absolutely needs to be considered for the win here, seeing as there can be a direct correlation between who wins here and which film takes Best Picture.

Dating back to 2000, the two awards have been connected to the same film 11 different times.

Top Favorites to Win Best Director

Of course, I am picking The Irishman to win Best Picture this year, which could make fellow favorite Martin Scorsese just as likely to take this one down.

Quentin Tarantino joins a solid trio of favorites, as it remains entirely possible the Academy hands him his first-ever win for this category.

These are without a doubt your three best bets, while they’re all among the five nominees for this same award at the Golden Globes.

Sleepers to Win Best Director

The top entertainment betting sites peg Joon Ho as the slight favorite, but the latest Best Director odds do not point to a clear frontrunner.

Could that leave the door open to a mild upset? We certainly can’t rule it out.

Whether Joker surprises with an upset win or not, Todd Phillips (+1400) deserves some recognition and remains a very real threat here. He earned a nominee at the Golden Globes, and given Joker’s early success on the film award circuit, he could still rise up the ranks.

I’m a little shocked to see how little momentum Sam Mendes has gotten for his truly special 1917. This war film is an instant classic, is shot beautifully, and tells a compelling tale of determination and desperation.

Even though 1917 is likely to fail to get the proper attention for Best Picture, there is a very real argument for Mendes here, and his +650 price is pretty nice. Of course, Noah Baumbach pieced together another emotional tug-of-war in Marriage Story and is being flat-out disrespected at +3000.

Final Pick for Oscars Best Director

While there is always room for sleeper love, I’ll circle back to Scorsese here. The Irishman was very well put together and did a terrific job blending real-life material with a creative edge.

Scorsese may very well be set up to sweep the top two awards, but even if he doesn’t, I think he’s a great value to take home Best Director.

  • Martin Scorsese


This is honestly one of the best Oscars seasons in recent memory. I could be wrong, but recent winners and even the list of nominees have seemed rather weak.

Of course, the downside of having such an amazing year in film is that some very worthy winners will slip through the cracks. Even the top nominees will quickly be forgotten once they inevitably lose to the eventual winners.

I strongly suggest you take in as many of this year’s Oscars-nominated movies as you can, however. They’re all very different (and admittedly, some aren’t great), but as a whole, they deliver great messages and tell well-crafted stories that are often complemented (not just carried) by powerhouse acting.

Joker was probably my favorite quick-hitting film, with Phoenix edging out some stellar performances with the best overall acting performance. Marriage Story was the most depressing and had the most to emotionally unpack.

The Irishman, from top to bottom, was easily the most complete.

I think this is another year for Scorsese, and Phoenix will be the main benefactor for Joker.

Of course, there is room for an upset or two, so feel free to hedge your bets a bit. Also pay some mind to the Golden Globes and keep an eye out for more Oscars and general entertainment content at our entertainment betting blog.

Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

More Posts by Noah Contact Noah