This year's Oscars ceremony will take place on March 27 and it's still very much a case of, all to play for in a number of the main categories.
With the major guild winners being revealed in the coming weeks, starting with SAG (Screen Actors Guild) a week on Sunday, now is the time to strike in the hope of market shake-ups and future price drops.
We already have a raft of odds-on shots but this shouldn't deter value seekers starting with the biggest one of them all, Best Picture, where there remains room for doubt 1.635/8 favourite on Betfair, 'The Power Of The Dog', is home and hosed.
It leads the way this year with 12 Oscars nominations overall, but the main issue is the somewhat marmite nature of Jane Campion's intense Western, which could see it come up short on the preferential ballot system.
Kenneth Branagh's monochrome movie 'Belfast', paying homage to his 1960s upbringing in Northern Ireland, is considered the main threat to 'The Power Of The Dog', available to back at 5.95/1 on Betfair, but while offering heavy helpings of misty-eyed nostalgia, and touching on the Troubles at the time, there is room for viewers to be left feeling underwhelmed by it.
No Oscars Film Editing nomination for 'Belfast' is a setback, and Kenneth Branagh missing out on a Best Director nod at BAFTA leaves a further slight question mark hanging over it.
Academy members who will vote on this (there are 9,487 eligible voters to be precise) are asked to rank all the Best Picture nominees from best to worst. It's a system that aims for the winner to be the most widely appreciated by the electorate and is a potential blow to any movie which is polarising.
A shortlist of ten movies means it's highly unlikely any one film will achieve over 50% of number one rankings to be declared the winner of Best Picture from the get-go. A somewhat convoluted method then sees the movie with the least number one rankings eliminated, and those ballot papers redistributed based on the number two ranked movie.
This process will likely continue for a few rounds, the smallest pile of ballot papers eliminated each time and re-distribution taking place according to second placed, or third placed rankings if the second placed movie has already been eliminated, until one movie's pile accounts for more than 50 per cent of all ballots.
Are you still with me? You may well have dozed off, understandably, but suffice to say this Best Picture voting procedure matters and 'The Power Of The Dog' and 'Belfast', the first and second favourites, could be vulnerable under the preferential system.
Respect the heart-warmers
You really need to think about which movie is going to rack up the most first, second and third choice rankings among voters, which is where movies such as 'King Richard' and 'CODA' may hold a significant advantage. Anything heart-warming invariably plays well to Academy members and these two flicks certainly tick the 'feel-good factor' box in abundance.
For 'CODA' to get more into contention it could also do with winning SAG Ensemble and that could easily happen with 'Belfast' looking a vulnerable favourite.
Momentum can prove key when it comes to the Oscars, 'Parasite' a classic example of a recent Best Picture and Best Director winner (Bong Joon-ho) in 2020 that came with a late run to win despite being largely written off in the lead up to the ceremony.
'Licorice Pizza', a nostalgic coming-of-age tale, is the other to consider at a big price but 'CODA' looks the pick of the outsiders, available to back around 26.025/1 on Betfair, the inclusivity statement of its deaf cast winning a potential highlight of the March 27 ceremony.
If 'CODA' misses out on Best Picture, Troy Kotsur in Best Supporting Actor looks the obvious place for Academy members to reward the film instead. Kodi Smit-McPhee ('The Power Of The Dog') has dominated the movie awards season up to this point but essentially you are looking at a lot of critics' awards wins and a Golden Globe win for him which doesn't necessarily equate to Oscars success.
Three key awards of SAG, BAFTA and Critics' Choice take place pre-Oscars and Kotsur will ideally need to notch at least one win among those three to stem the notion this is a Smit-McPhee procession. The week after SAG, however, is the Independent Spirit Awards which at least allows Kotsur the chance to strike, with Smit-McPhee not nominated there for Best Supporting Male. So the advice here is to back Kotsur at 31-10 with SBK.
Best Actress conundrum
This year's Best Actress race has been a real head-scratcher and a huge amount of uncertainty still hangs over it. Kristen Stewart was the initial odds-on favourite for her portrayal of Diana in 'Spencer' but with the movie faring badly, her challenge was starting to peter out, only for her to rise like a phoenix from the flames and make the Oscars shortlist of five.
Lady Gaga, meanwhile, who stars in 'House Of Gucci', appeared to be gaining late momentum and was backed down to favouritism only for her to fail to be nominated for the Oscar.
Much like Smit-McPhee, Stewart was winning critics' awards aplenty earlier in the season but that has since looked like a false dawn, and she is lacking a key nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress at the SAG Awards.
The SAG result will shift the odds once more, and if one of Jessica Chastain, Olivia Colman and Nicole Kidman takes it they will move firmly into pole position for the Oscar.
Kidman's portrayal of an American tv legend, Lucille Ball, in 'Being The Ricardos' looks a handy fit with Academy members who tend to enjoy anything with a U.S. industry focus.
As much as Kidman's chance of winning is respected, the value lies in opposing her with the other two at this juncture.
Biopics are often well received by Academy members and this might give Jessica Chastain ('The Eyes Of Tammy Faye') a boost for her depiction of the eccentric televangelist. The fact Chastain is still to win an acting Oscar could also help generate support.
A small precedent also marginally in her favour is the fact Best Make-Up & Styling, for which 'The Eyes Of Tammy Faye' is 1.558/15 favourite on Betfair, has previously doubled up with Best Actress.
Awards darling Olivia Colman also looks a serious contender for her role in 'The Lost Daughter', a movie which has earned a respectable three Oscars nods in total. Bizarrely, all five nominated actresses star in movies lacking a Best Picture nomination. BAFTA has also managed to snub all five women shortlisted for the Oscar in its Best Actress category.
While Jane Campion is looking virtually nailed on to take Best Director, it's not a done deal in Best Actor with Benedict Cumberbatch still offering a threat to hot 1.4640/85 favourite with Betfair, Will Smith.
If Cumberbatch lands a surprise SAG win, the odds will move a lot closer between him and Smith. Neither has won an Oscar before but the current BLM sentiment has always given the impression Smith holds a slight advantage.
The Oscars side markets are often where you can unearth the best value. This year there are a raft of odds-on shots looking hard to beat, but it is unlikely they will all win.
If 'The Power Of The Dog' does land Best Picture, it will have a great chance to win Cinematography, two awards which often marry up, so my advice is to back it to win Cinematography at the much more backable price of 4.03/1 with SBK.
It's a female cinematographer involved too, Ari Wegner, and after the tragic Alec Baldwin set incident, and the death of Halyna Hutchins, this could also guide voters in Wegner's direction. Red-hot 1.222/9 favourite Dune is going to win a huge raft of technical awards on the night and definitely looks vulnerable here.