Top Gun: Maverick. OK, we’re kidding. But not entirely. Due to the Motion Picture Academy‘s byzantine, ranked-choice voting for Best Picture, the $1.5 billion-grossing Tom Cruise spectacle (+1000 on DraftKings) could rack up enough second- and third-place votes to nab the top prize. That being said, oddsmakers still have this as the year of Everything Everywhere All At Once (-280). We could be set for a reprise of 1978, when Star Wars ruled the box office but Annie Hall ran the table at the Oscars. (Neither film has fared badly with posterity.) Everything Everywhere All At Once scores the Academy trifecta of being a commercial hit—a $104 million return on a $14 million outlay—offbeat and upbeat, a combination that reliably spells “win.” The second closest rival to Everything is the equally splendid but downbeat The Banshees of Inisherin (+300) and it’s having a tough time closing the gap in the betting lines. As for Steven Spielberg‘s The Fabelmans, its momentum appears to have peaked at the Golden Globes lovefest. It’s now at +1200 and Spielberg’s Best Director odds have faded to +120.
That prize will likely to go Everything‘s Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (-165), with nobody else any closer than +1200. Incidentally, nine-nomination All Quiet on the Western Front (regarded as a Best International Feature shoo-in at -1600), despite being a wretched remake of a great film, stands a much better/bettor chance (+3500) at garnering Best Picture than Avatar: The Way of Water, dead in the water at +8000. James Cameron is down there with the insufferable Women Talking and with Triangle of Sadness. One additional factor working in Maverick‘s favor is that it’s nipping at Everything‘s heels in the bellwether Best Film Editing category, +125 to -110. It’s also all but assured of Best Sound at -300.
Avatar is expected to get the Best Visual Effects consolation prize (a formidable -1000) and is in contention for Best Production Design (+200), right behind mega-stinker Babylon (+110), although Baz Luhrmann‘s Elvis (+300) is deservedly in the mix. Speaking of pictures that stank up the box office, Empire of Light (+350) has an outside shot—forgive the pun—at Best Cinematography but All Quiet (-250) is favored. And you’d be throwing your money away if you wagered against Guillermo Del Toro, whose poignant Pinocchio is a prohibitive -1400 for Best Animated Feature.
Most of the acting categories, save one, are tight contests. There’s no use betting against Everything‘s Ke Huy Quan (-1200), unless you’re a diehard Brendan Gleeson fan (Banshees, +550). Best Supporting Actress will probably be a ‘legacy award’ to the awesome Angela Bassett (-280), even if Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hardly seems like award fodder beyond Best Costume Design (favored at +110 but with Elvis threatening at +120). Her closest rival is Kerry Condon (Banshees, +220), with all others far behind. Incidentally, with an African American, an Irishwoman, two Asian Americans and a senior citizen, this is the most diversely represented category, if you care about such things (and the Academy does).
Brendan Fraser (The Whale) is hanging in there, and rightly so, for Best Actor at -165, with Colin Farrell (Banshees) having slipped into a +275 tie with Austin Butler of Elvis. In the Best Actress derby, it’s a tight contest between Cate Blanchett (Tar, -165) and Everything‘s Michelle Yeoh (+120), although they could so heavily divide the vote that the problematic Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie, +1200) could slip through and win a prize for a film that almost literally no one—a microscopic $27,000 box office gross—has seen. That’d be sure and credible fodder for those who say the Academy is out of touch with the American public. Riseborough was nominated via a controversial social-media campaign by Academy members that involved some rule infringement. Least able to read the room was actress Frances Fisher, who e-mail blasted that Viola Davis (The Woman King) and Danielle Deadwyler (Till) were each “a lock” and shouldn’t get additional votes, when DraftKings showed—correctly—that both were very much on the bubble … and ultimately got left out in the cold.
We mustn’t forget the writers and Banshees director Martin McDonagh is favored to get the Best Original Screenplay (-125), but it could be by a whisker as The Daniels are at -110 for Everything. Similarly, the Academy will throw Women Talking a substantial bone in the form of Best Adapted Screenplay for Sarah Polley (-200), something which has been considered a foregone conclusion for months although, once more, virtually nobody has seen the picture, which has eked out $1.5 million at the ticket window.
As long as we talking awards, let’s hand out a Mister Stupid Prize to the unnamed Bally’s Evansville player who bragged on his winnings to Bobbie Collins, then invited her back to his palatial Esquire Inn room. Once there, he was shot in the arm by Collins confederate David Flax. Both Flax and Collins are out on bail. Isn’t that reassuring? The moral is: Don’t pick up prospective partners in or near a casino. Otherwise you might wind up like the gambler who had his expensive watch, er, snatched by a brand-new lady friend, who memorably secreted the timepiece in her palace of pleasure, making for last year’s most piquant crime saga.
Jottings: Boyd Gaming is now the “Official and Exclusive Locals Casino” of the Las Vegas Raiders, which brings Boyd a great deal of additional exposure. Then again, the Silver & Black is so promiscuous in its “exclusive” partnerships that we are reminded of Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain, who “gave an exclusive interview—to every paper in town.” The Raiders also have the dubious distinction of owning the highest-priced tickets in the NFL, at $153.17. If the Raiders are going to fleece their fanbase, they should at least put a better product on the field … Having failed to provide a regulatory framework for Massachusetts sports books, members of the Lege now have the nerve to chide the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for having “erred on the side of caution” in its rulemaking. Now that wagering is up and running we’ll see whether in brings in the $35 million in tax revenue that ex-Gov. Charlie Baker (R) baked into his budget …
Mohegan Sun has been tabbed as the operator of Soloviev Group‘s proposed Freedom Plaza megaresort near the United Nations. It would incorporate condos, a soccer pitch and a Ferris wheel … If you saw a white dog leading a pack of coyotes on the outskirts of Las Vegas, that was no illusion. Ghost, recently rescued, was orphaned and adopted by coyotes at least seven months ago. He is now being rehabilitated and in search of a forever home. “Despite his time with a vicious pack of coyotes, Ghost is the friendliest dog you could ever ask for. Rather than shying away from his captors, he begs for pets, hugs, and praise,” reports Outdoors.com … Recent layoffs at Bally’s Corp. and DraftKings got a thumbs-up from Truist Securities analyst Barry Jonas. “While unfortunate,” Jonas opined, “we see these moves as a necessary positive to reach sustainable economic levels before both divisions turn profitable.” … Gaming + politics = TNT. That’s pretty much the conclusion of pundit Brendan Bussmann, who discerns much activity among lawmakers but few clear signs of breakthrough this session … Former Mashpee Wampanoag chairman Cedric Cromwell will have to repay the tribe $210K in addition to serving three years in the pokey, a judge has ruled. Despite being caught dead to rights, Cromwell plans to appeal.