The race for the Best Picture Oscar appears to be between two contenders: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman and Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. But if the viewing public was voting, the results Sunday night would be very different.
U.K. bookmaker Paddy Power listed Birdman as a 4/7 favorite to win as of Saturday evening, with Boyhood at 5/4 odds. Similarly, Predictwise, a site that aggregates and analyzes information to forecast political, sports and entertainment events, gives Birdman a 64.5 percent chance of winning. Boyhood is the only other contender, with a 34.3 percent chance.
So if you’re looking to win your Oscar pool, the best bet would be to stick to one of those two films. (Similarly, the men who helmed those movies are the safest bets to take home the Best Director prize, with Iñárritu pegged at having a nearly 60 percent likelihood of winning.)
As we’ve noted before, though, there’s often a wide gulf between massive commercial success and Oscars glory. That certainly held true this year. As you can see on the chart below, the movie-going public’s clear favorite was Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. (You could say it really blew away the competition, but we would never be so crass.)
The biopic about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle has taken in more than $300 million at the box office, far ahead of the next Best Picture nominee, The Imitation Game, which has earned just over $80 million so far. American Sniper, which sparked some political controversy for its depiction of the Iraq war, has made more at the box office than the other seven nominated movies combined. And in a Google Consumer Survey of 1,005 people conducted for The Upshot, 42 percent called American Sniper the best movie they had seen in the past year. No other film came close.
It’s not that the other nominees were box office flops — each was solidly profitable, and could become even more so. But American Sniper was the only 2014 release to be both a huge box office draw and an Oscar contender. All of which means that many Americans will likely be very disappointed when another movie wins Best Picture on Sunday night. Bookmakers haven’t posted odds on whether we’ll be hearing more about Hollywood’s “liberal bias” on Monday, but that seems like a pretty safe bet, too.
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