2018 Academy Award Odds: Best Director

Oscar statuette
Oscar statuette (Davidlohr Bueso (flickr [CC License]))

On Sunday evening, Hollywood’s elite gathered together at the Beverly Hilton hotel amidst a sea of food, drinks, and black dresses for the 75th annual Golden Globes. Regarded as the Academy Awards’ younger and much less-serious sibling — thanks in large part to their status as the only show to serve alcohol — the Golden Globes are nonetheless an influential kick-off to award season, setting the early benchmark for the year’s top films.

The first of several awards shows, the Golden Globes set the stage, if you will, for what we can expect in the months to come. They give out the first nominations, the first trophies, and the first snubs. While we won’t get to hear the nominations for the Academy Awards for another couple of weeks, the Globes give us our first indication of what to expect once we do.

Not that a win at the Golden Globes is a guarantee of anything at the Academy Awards. The Hollywood Foreign Press (HFPA) and the Academy are two entirely different voting bodies with zero overlap, and they often differ quite drastically in opinion. Going back to 1980, the major-category-winners at the Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress) won the corresponding award at the Globes just 48% of the time, according to Sam Hart of NBC Chicago.

Still, viewers and oddsmakers alike tend to look to the Globes as an indicator of where the Academy may be headed. The Golden Globes give us a frame of reference for what films are catching the attention of critics and the press. They also change the odds for the Academy Awards quite significantly, as was evidenced by the shifting numbers at many online betting sites week.

From when I began writing this article to the time of publishing, the odds for Best Director changed at least once within a 24-hour period, post-Golden Globe ceremony, and be warned: they will very likely shift again soon. If you are interested in placing a bet, our recommendation is to watch the odds over the next two weeks and track the trends. Once nominations are out, you should feel more confident placing your bet, knowing who has steadily remained among the favorites and who has not.

Last week, we gave you our take on the current Best Picture odds; this week we are looking closely at Best Director.

NB: Nominations for the 90th Annual Academy Awards will be announced on Jan. 23rd, 2018. These are projected nominees for the Best Director category accompanied by their current betting odds. The numbers will shift in the lead-up to the ceremony on Mar. 4th, 2018. 

Odds on who will win Best Director at the 90th annual Academy Awards
Odds on who will win Best Director at the 90th annual Academy Awards (PaddyPower.com)

 

Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)

Guillermo del Toro has already claimed one statuette this award season, scooping up a Golden Globe for his work on The Shape of Water. Will he strike gold again come March? Though this category is one where the HFPA and Academy tend to actually agree more often, one win certainly does not guarantee a second for Mr. del Toro. He faces steep competition in this category from heavy-hitters like Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, and Ridley Scott, not to mention Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele, who were both overlooked at the Golden Globes, but have received rave critical acclaim for their respective works.

In fact, despite Guillermo del Toro’s recent win, PaddyPower.com still favors Nolan for the win, with 4/7 odds — quite short, compared to del Toro’s 5/4 odds.

Del Toro is not guaranteed an Oscar nomination, of course, but we absolutely expect his name to be in the mix when the nominations come out, and we expect that his odds will stay about the same, if not get slightly longer than they do now. So waiting to put your money down on him is prudent.

Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)

As we mentioned, Christopher Nolan still leads the pack at PaddyPower with significantly better odds than his peers. However, if you head over to 888Sport.com, you’ll find that he and Guillermo del Toro are currently sitting neck-and-neck. If you have seen Dunkirk, you will know what I mean when I say that it was a beautifully crafted. Despite being nominated several times, Nolan has yet to win an Academy Award and this would be a worthy film for his first Oscar.

If you had asked us in the summer what his odds were to pick up the Oscar, we would’ve told you he was your safest bet — no contest. Then, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriThe Shape of Water, and Lady Bird were released and the game changed. Ask us again in a week or so, and we may tell you something different again; however, right now, we think that both PaddyPower and 888Sport are leaning a little on the short side with their odds for Nolan.

Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)

As Natalie Portman so eloquently pointed out, there was a bit of an oversight made at the Golden Globes this year: there was not one single female director nominated. In a year when you have the likes of Patty Jenkins, Greta Gerwig, and Dee Rees in the director’s chair, this just doesn’t feel alright. Gerwig, specifically, was a particularly hard snub, considering that her debut film, Lady Bird, soared to the highest-rated spot on Rotten Tomatoes, proving once and for all that people want female-driven, female-directed, female-led content.

Thankfully, however, there is time for the Academy to learn from the HFPA’s mistake. With the criticism the HFPA has already received about the lack of gender diversity in this category, and the powerful #TimesUp focus of the ceremonies themselves, Gerwig is a shoo-in for a nomination, and thoroughly deserving of it.

Despite being overlooked by the Globes, both PaddyPower and 888Sport have odds available on Gerwig’s chances at the Oscars. At the moment, odds on Gerwig winning Best Director are decent, though not as high as we believe they should be. Granted, this will likely change the closer we get to nominations being announced, and to the actual ceremony itself. Greta is not likely to beat out Nolan and del Toro this year, but keep your eyes on her. If her odds get longer post-nominations, she could be a good value-bet, particularly if the lack-of-diversity zeitgeist builds.

Martin McDonagh (3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

It seems highly unlikely that Martin McDonagh will not get a nomination for 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. However, it also seems unlikely that he will win. Yes, his film won Best Picture (Drama) at the Golden Globes and has garnered acclaim from nearly every critic. But looking at the current odds available for him to win, things do not look too hopeful for the director. Neither 888Sport nor PaddyPower are giving him very good odds at this point in time (8/1 and 12/1, respectively), and we don’t really expect this to shift too much post-nomination announcement.

Jordan Peele (Get Out)

Ah, Jordan Peele. Did you deserve far more recognition than you were afforded at the Golden Globes this year? Yes. Will the Academy make it up to you with a Best Director award? Unfortunately, no.

Peele’s psycho-social-thriller Get Out (it’s fairly difficult to properly categorize) came out early in the year, thrilling audiences and earning huge praise, so when Peele wasn’t included in the Best Director category at the Golden Globes there was, understandably, a bit of murmuring amongst the masses. If you are anything like us, you may have found yourself wondering whether the majority of the HFPA had even seen the movie, because if they had, surely Mr. Peele would have been in the running.

But we are talking about wins, not nominations, correct? And Jordan Peele will not win the Oscar. He should at least be nominated this time around, however he is up against some of the biggest and best directors in the industry in this category, and those more-familiar names have also produced incredible work. Similarly to Gerwig, he is one to keep your eyes on. Unfortunately, this year, we have to agree with 888Sport, who do not include Peele in their current lines. Don’t forget to check back after the nomination announcements on the 23rd, though. Crazier things have happened.

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At the tender age of six, Kaela declared herself wise beyond her years - an overconfidence she never quite managed to shake. This, combined with an unabashed interest in the lives of other people and a degree in Communications, has made writing quite a natural fit for the self-proclaimed expert.