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February 19, 2009 14:41 ET

Betting the Oscars-The Lesser categories...

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 19, 2009) - Everyone has their opinions on the main categories of the Oscars. Most have conceded Slumdog Millionaire as the choice for best picture, director and adapted screenplay and Heath Ledger for supporting actress while Milk, Kate Winslett, Penelope Cruz and Mickey Rourke lead the other 4 major categories. Not surprisingly, there is little mention of who will win best makeup, best cinematography or best sound editing. One advantage of wagering at Betfair is that you can indeed bet on all categories of the Oscars that are announced at the main ceremony. While others go to the bathroom or turn on alternate programming, Betfair players can be tuned in with a vested interest on the categories that few others care about. Fortunately for those Canadians who do wager on these "lesser categories" they can also prove to be the most profitable. Betting Heath Ledger is sure money but what's the fun of backing a 1.10 (Bet $10 to win $1) favourite? Besides if he miraculously loses, the bettor will feel like an even bigger loser not to mention be in a much poorer financial position.

With that in mind let's look at some of the lesser categories of the Oscars.

Betfair: Best Foreign Film

Of all the categories at the Oscars, foreign film produces the most upsets. Apparently the voters rarely pick the best picture but vote for the country they want to see win. It was for that reason Amelie (which was a 1.11 (Bet $9 to win $1) favourite in 2001 and nominated for Best Motion Picture) lost to a low budget film from war torn Bosnia/Herzegovena. And the ultimate sure thing Pans Labyrinth lost to a German film in 2006 as there was a backlash against Mexico. It is no surprise that when countries have some enemies at the academy the "sure things" often do badly in this category. With that in mind, Waltz with Bashir from Israel is a great go-against. The animated documentary about a soldier who loses his memory after the Shatila and Sabra massacres has won several awards including a Golden Globe. But this is the Oscars and much of the world is currently at odds with Israel because they feel they are repressing the Palestinians. The fact that the film does not paint Israel in a great light is irrelevant. Giving the award to the film is seen as giving the award to Israel. Hence, a lot of Academy voters won't pick the film on that basis and it may well lose. The Academy voters are much different than those that pick the Globes or the critics awards. Which film will win? Who knows but one can get 1.4 (Bet $4 to win $10) odds laying ("laying" means betting something to lose and is the other side of backing something to win. Backing is the traditional way to bet.) Waltz with Bashir at Betfair and at those odds is a great wager.

Betfair: Best Sound Mixing/Sound Editing

Traditionally these awards go to the same film and are generally awarded to the film that the academy believes has been overlooked for major prizes or instead is given to the film that sweeps the Oscars. With that in mind, the 2 obvious choices are Slumdog Millionaire and The Dark Knight. Both films are available at great odds at Betfair, particularly Slumdog Millionaire. Again this is a category that few care about and simply tick the film they liked. If Slumdog sweeps the awards as films like Lord of the Rings and Titanic did before it there is no reason to think some voters won't just tick off "Slumdog Millionaire" for everything. At last check the film had 6.00 odds (Bet $10 to win $50) at Betfair for sound mixing and 5.00 (Bet $10 to win $40) for sound editing. Those odds sound good to me although if the odds go up a bit on The Dark Knight it has to be included also.

Betfair: Best Makeup

Forget Hellboy, this award is between Benjamin Button and The Dark Knight. While Benjamin Button is the obvious choice - the makeup that everyone remembers is Heath Ledger's face as the Joker. As well a lot of voters believe the Dark Knight was wrongly overlooked for best picture. Benjamin Button is currently available to bet against (or lay) at 1.25 (Bet $25 to win $100). Those odds are hard to pass up if enough voters think of Ledger when voting.

Betfair: Best Costume

The Duchess is the heavy favourite at 1.33 (Bet $30 to win $10) for the simple reason it was all costumes. But that is hardly a reason to bet on this film. In the past the costume award is given as a token to films that should have done better. In this case I believe they will give the award to the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It and Milk are the only best picture contenders in this category and I see many voters feeling bad that they never ticked off anything for the film with the most nominees so this will be their token vote for the Benjamin Button. The Duchess deserves to win, but deserving to win these lesser awards rarely equates to wins.

Betfair: Best Cinematography

This award that goes to lighting, photo images etc. is another award that often goes to films that can't win major categories. The Dark Knight is nominated but the film is so dark it is difficult to see it winning. Slumdog Millionaire is the favourite with Benjamin Button second. I believe the odds are reversed. Slumdog was very dark in places while Benjamin Button was constantly well lit and photogenic. As well I believe many academy voters will give Button this award as they tick off Slumdog Millionaire for best picture and adapted screenplay. Of course if it is the sweep that many predict it may indeed just be handed to Slumdog Millionaire.

Betfair: Best Documentary Feature

Man on Wire is the logical choice here and the reason it is 1.18 on the lay (bet 55 to win 10 if Man on Wire loses). The film that looks at Philipe Petit's 1974 high wire walk between two of the World Trade Centre towers was indeed spectacular - or so I'm told. It's not a film I would see and I doubt many at the Academy would either. Unless there is a clear cut standout that gets a lot of press like An Inconvenient Truth or Fahrenheit 9-11 often times the academy won't vote for the logical choice. If no one sees any of these they may just pick one at random. The other "lesser" categories films to look out for as value plays include:

Laying (betting against) Jai Ho for best song. None of the 3 songs are memorable so you should probably lay (bet against) the favourite.

Backing (Betting for something to happen) Wall-E for best score (animated films often do well in audio categories)

Backing (Betting for something to win) Dark Knight for visual effects (Benjamin Button is the clear choice but the Dark Knight had far more viewers who will recall the spectacular effects)

For Art Direction it is hard to see Benjamin Button losing and at the current odds is not worth the risk.

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