The 87th little gold man awards get under way in Los Angeles on Sunday. The ceremony itself will attract more eyeballs than an Ellen Degeneres selfie. But people aren't just tuning in for the fashion, the thank yous or the famous faces; there's also plenty to keep the average punter interested too as Daniel Bettridge explains...
"You don't need to have Stephen Hawking's IQ to work out why Eddie Redmayne's phenomenal portrayal of the famous physicist is this year's front runner (1/4). But the Academy loves a good comeback which is why Michael Keaton (11/4) and even Bradley Cooper (25/1) have been coveting the attention of punters in the build-up to this weekend's Oscars."
It's the award that all filmmakers dream about, but just who will win this year's Best Picture Oscar? It looks like Birdman (8/15) and Boyhood (6/5) will go beak-to-head for the night's biggest prize, and picking between the two is going to be as difficult as watching John Travolta try and pronounce Idina Menzel's name properly.
However if you're looking for a little more value then don't rule out The Imitation Game (33/1) or The Theory of Everything (80/1). After all sepia-tinged subject matter is like catnip for Academy voters (20 of the last 30 best picture winners have been period pieces) while the British end has been kept consistently up too with more than 50% of recent winners having some form of homegrown involvement. All of which means that this duo of blockbuster biopics could turn into dark horses should the Academy voters decide to throw a curveball at proceedings.
One lucky director will have a new trinket for their mantelpiece this Sunday. If you're Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - Birdman (8/13), or Richard Linklater - Boyhood (5/4); you may have already made an Oscar-shaped space in preparation. That doesn't mean that Morten Tyldum - The Imitation Game (40/1), Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel (33/1) and Bennett Miller - Foxcatcher (50/1) are out of the running entirely; but they should probably start practising their humble congratulatory faces all the same.
You don't need to have Stephen Hawking's IQ to work out why Eddie Redmayne's phenomenal portrayal of the famous physicist is this year's front runner (1/4).
But the Academy loves a good comeback which is why Michael Keaton (11/4) and even Bradley Cooper (25/1) have been coveting the attention of punters in the build-up to this weekend's Oscars.
Julianne Moore's performance in Still Alice has attracted more buzz than a bee-keeping convention over recent weeks, so it's no surprise to see the actress race ahead in the odds (1/50). But while the Best Actress race is all but over sartorially-slanted punters can still join in with the fun by betting on her fellow nominees' red carpet couture. So why not put your finances where your fashion sense is by betting on the colour of Rosamund Pike's evening wear?
Along with faux modesty and the sudden urge to make an ill-advised political statement, winning an Oscar is like a green light for otherwise well-adjusted adults to suddenly turn on the waterworks. All manner of famous faces have cried like a kid who's dropped their ice cream in previous ceremonies. From Kate Winslett's 2009 weep to Gwyneth Paltrow's 2001 blockbuster some of the best in the business have shed a tear or two at Tinseltown's glitziest event.
So will this year's hopefuls follow suit? At 11/10 let's just say someone better have some Kleenex on hand just in case.
I'd like to thank...
Few people will ever get an opportunity to speak to a worldwide audience of millions, but that's the bonus prize that awaits the Best Actor/Actress who'll be etching their names on a 13.5 inch piece of cinema history this weekend. With the world watching it's up to the stars of the silver screen to make the best use of the 45 seconds the Academy allocates for them to say their thank yous.
There will be a lot of people thanked - it could be literally everyone if Kim Bassinger's 1998 acceptance amble was anything to go by. But who will merit the first mention for this year's Oscar winners?
Odds are the Academy (6/4) will get a nod, it's only polite of course seeing as they organised the whole shindig. Directors are the next most popular thankee (3-1), though those odds would be significantly shorter if one of their names ended in 'O. Russell'. Then there's a smorgasbord that ranges from spouse (6/1) to co-star (10/1) via writers (6/1), producers (6/1) and even the almighty (8/1).
After his escapades at the VMAs and more recently the Grammys, it's now mandatory for awards hosts to prepare for a Kanye-shaped stage rush during live ceremonies. So you wouldn't put it past the self-styled defender of artistry to do it again at the Dolby Theatre (12/1) would you? Even if Beyonce isn't up for an award.
Once is unlucky but twice? Surely Jennifer Lawrence is just trolling us now. Like Bambi on ice or a dog on a linoleum floor, there's just something about the red carpet that messes with JLaw's equilibrium; which is why punters will be all too happy to back the weak-kneed star at 3/1.