Having covered the best film and screenplay Oscars, it’s time to turn our attention to the individual awards, which we all know are the most fun.
The more collaborative awards are all well and good, but they just don’t inspire the sort of anxiety in the nominees that say, a Best Actress award can do. The best thing about the Oscars by a mile, is watching the losing nominees adopt rictus grins and pretend that they’re pleased for the winner, when it’s plain to see that they’re dying inside.
So who will be bounding up to the stage this year and who will be clapping furiously, in an effort to distract their tear ducts from revealing their true feelings?
We’ll start with a couple of markets that already look like a sure thing. Daniel Day-Lewis will win the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln and odds of just 1.03 reflect this certainty.
The Academy love to reward actors for portraying a historical figure and indeed, five of the last eight Best Actor awards have gone to performers who were playing characters that existed in real life. Day-Lewis is also helped by the fact that he has no real serious contenders for the honour.
According to the oddsmakers, an even bigger certainty is that Anne Hathaway will win the Best Supporting Actress award for Les Miserables, as odds of 1.01 testify. Hathaway has won in this category at the Golden Globes, Baftas and Screen Actors Guild awards, which is a pretty fair indication that the Oscar will be coming her way.
The Best Supporting Actor award is a much tighter affair and features some heavyweight talent. The favourite is Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained at 2.15.
Waltz has already won this award for his part in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds and though he’s arguably even better in Django, I wonder if the Academy are likely to give him a second victory, for what is a pretty similar part.
He did win the Bafta and Golden Globe, but the SAG award for best supporting actor went to Tommy Lee Jones for his part in Lincoln.
Jones is priced at 2.25 for the Oscar. Like Waltz, Jones has won this award before, for his part in The Fugitive, albeit much less recently. It’s neck and neck and if I had to choose between the two, I’d go with Jones.
Yet if you’re looking for an outsider, then you could do worse than the 7.00 available for Robert De Niro. He seems to be picking up some momentum for his role in the critic-friendly Silver Linings Playbook.
For someone who is widely thought of as one of the greatest actors of his generation, De Niro has been curiously ignored by the Academy. He has only tasted Oscar success twice, winning the supporting actor award for The Godfather Part II and the best actor award for Raging Bull. De Niro’s last nomination was way back in 1991 for his role in Cape Fear.
This could be a chance for the Academy to write some wrongs, which isn’t something that is beneath them. Witness Al Pacino’s Oscar for Scent of a Woman, or Martin Scorcese’s for The Departed, as examples of other legends winning with projects that did not represent the best of their work.
Finally we come to the Best Actress award, where another member of the Silver Linings Playbook cast is the heavy favourite.
Jennifer Lawrence is just 1.45 to win the Oscar. Still only 22, this is Lawrence’s second nomination for best actress, having previously been put forward for Winter’s Bone.
Lawrence won the best actress award at the Golden Globes, but the Bafta went to Emannuelle Riva for her part in Amour.
At 85 years old, it’s not unkind to suggest that this may well be Riva’s last Oscar nomination, as well as her first. Indeed, she is the oldest woman to have been nominated for this award.
At 3.75, Riva is a much better value bet than Lawrence. There is always a sense that younger nominees have other opportunities to be honoured and 1.45 looks far too short.