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Best Actress Odds & Predictions at the 2018 Academy Awards

Sally Hawkins in 'The Shape of Water' (FOX Searchlight)
  • Will Frances McDormand continue her awards sweep at the 90th annual Oscars?
  • Can record-setting nominee Meryl Streep push past her competition and earn her third Academy Award?
  • Was Saoirse Ronan’s performance in Lady Bird  enough to woo the Academy, or will she continue to be overshadowed by her more-seasoned peers?

We are just three weeks away from the 90th annual Academy Awards, and as we continue our slow roll toward the red carpet, we are also continuing our look at the betting odds available for the big night. Prior to the official nomination announcements on January 23rd, we discussed our early picks for who would be taking the Oscar home in each of the six major categories. Now, with the nominees official and the ceremonies in sight, we are going to dive a little deeper into those picks, the lines being offered by different sportsbooks, and where the two converge.

While it would be easy to assume that Frances McDormand (who already scooped up the Golden Globe and SAG awards) will continue to win all the major trophies for her performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, there are some other serious contenders in this race who deserve our consideration — and, historically speaking, the Golden Globes and SAG Awards do not necessarily portend Oscar success.

Frances McDormand

Frances McDormand in 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'
Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (FOX Searchlight)

With the other two major best actress awards on her shelf already, Frances McDormand seems a nearly unstoppable force at this point; and, if you’ve seen Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, you know why. McDormand is at her absolute best as Mildred Hayes. There is a tenacity to the woman, a true grit that resonates deeply within the viewer. She is a bereaved mother, infuriated by a lack of justice for her daughter’s abuse and death, and you cannot help but feel it all in the very pit of your own stomach as you watch.

McDormand is at her absolute best as Mildred Hayes … a  bereaved mother, infuriated by a lack of justice for her daughter’s abuse and death.

The flip side to this coin is that the voting body of the Academy is completely different than the voting body for the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards. Considering how rare it is for all three awards to go to the same performer in the same year, there is a distinct possibility that Frances will be frowning at the end of the night. But, past success aside, McDormand’s emotional energy, acutely human performance, and willingness to look less-than-attractive for the role all speak to her likely success at the Oscars.

Quite simply, her performance is exactly the type of showstopper you expect to win all the awards. Bovada has odds for McDormand to win at -600, and the fact that her closest competitor in this category is at +600 feels entirely fair.

Saoirse Ronan

Saiorse Ronan in 'Lady Bird'
Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird (Universal Pictures)

Saoirse Ronan has risen up as Frances McDormand’s main competitor in the Best Actress debate. Her take on Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson had just the right amount of nuance, angst, and blind teenage ambition. Which is exactly why both Bovada and MyBookie have her odds second only to McDormand’s — though the gap between the two is significant in both cases. Ronan’s odds at Bovada are at +600, compared to McDormand’s -600. At MyBookie, they are +580, compared to McDormand’s -1000.

By all critical accounts, the gap should be smaller, and bettors should not underestimate Ronan’s chances. If anyone is going to disrupt McDormand’s winning streak, expect it to be either Saoirse or our following contender.

Sally Hawkins

Sally Hawkins in 'The Shape of Water
Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water (FOX Searchlight)

There is not a whole lot more to say than this: do not look past Sally Hawkins in this race. Her odds may not be the shortest you’re going to find, but they are not the longest — and she was able to secure a nomination without uttering a single word. The Shape of Water is the most-nominated movie of the year, and has already secured several wins at other award ceremonies, so it should come as no surprise for Hawkins to be a chief contender for the Oscar here.

If a dark-horse is what you are looking for this awards season, consider Hawkins. 

In our early picks article, we listed Hawkins behind both Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan, but we are moving her up the ranks now. Bovada’s odds for Hawkins (+700) place her just behind Ronan, a much more fitting spot. If a dark-horse is what you are looking for this awards season, consider Hawkins. Hers was a delightful, engaging, and enraptured performance — the sheer physicality of her emotions will surely sway many an Academy voter.

Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie in 'I, Tonya'
Margot Robbie in I, Tonya (Clubhouse Pictures)

Margot Robbie’s turn in I, Tonya screams “Academy winner.” At least it would, in most years. Her transformation into vilified figure skater Tonya Harding was dedicated and thorough — and the Academy loves a good physical transformation. That said, she will likely be the victim of bad timing, as Oscars success is always highly dependent on when a film is released and what other movies were put out around the same time. Unfortunately for Robbie, this year the odds are telling. MyBookie has her at +2800, significantly longer than the category favorites. Trust them on this.

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep in 'The Post'
Meryl Streep in The Post (20th Century Fox)

Placing Meryl Streep at the bottom of any list feels absolutely absurd, but it’s accurate this year. Generally accepted as the queen of Hollywood, Ms. Streep broke records this year with her 21st Oscar nomination for her role in The Post. When news broke of a Steven Spielberg-directed film, starring both Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, critics and fans alike assumed that The Post — and everyone linked to it — would be near shoo-ins for the win.

The sliver of hope that remains for Streep is that she is so well-beloved by her community and peers, that their appreciation of her (and her film) may supersede any precedent set so far this award season.

And yet, the film has largely been overlooked by nominating committees, and Streep’s odds to win the Oscar are consistently the worst among the five nominees. (MyBookie has her at +4000, while Bovada has her at +3300.) The sliver of hope that remains for Streep is that she is so well-beloved by her community and peers, that their appreciation of her (and her film) may supersede any precedent set so far this award season. That being said, she has been nominated 21 times by the Academy, and won three, so it’s clear her peers have no qualms about making her a bridesmaid.


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An unabashed interest in the lives of other people and all things pop culture makes analyzing the world of entertainment an easy fit for Kaela. One of SBD's resident experts since 2017, she keeps her finger on the pulse so you can feel confident, and have fun, making informed wagers.