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Odds on Oscars' best-actor race: Can Clooney upset?

February 18, 2008 | 10:36 am

Now that we're in the home stretch of the Oscar derby, here are Gold Derby's odds in the best-actor race.

Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood" — Even
George Clooney, "Michael Clayton" — 6/5
Johnny Depp, "Sweeney Todd" — 8/1
Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Valley of Elah" — 12/1
Viggo Mortensen, "Eastern Promises" — 20/1

Sure, Day-Lewis is out front, but I don't think he's as far ahead as other pundits believe. Remember the last time he looked like an Oscar inevitability after sweeping the early kudos for portraying a different sinister role? In 2002, he got upset by Adrien Brody ("The Pianist"). Sure, things were different then. "Gangs of New York" even had more nominations (10) than "There Will Be Blood" does now (8), but it wasn't widely respected like "Blood" nor a viable contender to win best picture, as "Blood" is. But it does remind us Oscarwatchers not to make assumptions about a notoriously frisky derby where lead ponies sometimes trip up.

I think that there's another past best-actor race that may — perchance — have parallels to today. In 1986, "Mona Lisa" star Bob Hoskins swept every early major award, just as Day-Lewis has this year: New York and L.A. film critics, National Society of Film Critics, Golden Globe and BAFTA. Like Day-Lewis, Hoskins is a Brit who is going up against a hip, dashing American matinee star with a chiseled jaw, huge fan base and aura of Hollywood icon. Paul Newman ended up winning for "The Color of Money" largely because he was ridiculously overdue after six previous defeats. But Clooney may have something else going for him.

Never before has Clooney been nominated in the lead race. We don't know how strong his support may be. Apparently, it's huge enough to propel "Michael Clayton" to seven nominations, including best picture. The film itself is admired, but let's be honest: that's largely because of Clooney. It fills a huge gap. Clooney is such a superstar that you'd expect there would be many films like "Clayton" that feature him in the lead role, looking like Clooney, handsome and jaunty, acting all angst-beset, then suddenly finding his Inner Hero. But he's consistently chosen such quirky, artistically challenging parts that "Clayton" is the Clooney movie all Hollywood has been waiting for.

So many of my fellow Oscarologists are so aware of "Clayton's" popularity with voters that they warn us a best-pic upset is possible (a long shot, granted, but possible) and now they're suddenly hopping on the Tilda Swinton bandwagon this late in the derby, convinced that that's where voters will put their "Clayton" vote. But I ask you: If voters are really that keen on "Clayton," why would they put that vote anywhere but behind the man who makes them love it so?

Yes, it seems that Day-Lewis may be the likely winner, but I am much more leery of Clooney than they are and give him better odds than they do. Tomorrow is the deadline for us pundits at TheEnvelope to log our final predix. I am thisclose to ditching Day-Lewis for Clooney and may do so.


(Photos: Handmade Films/ Buena Vista/ Warner Bros./ Paramount Vantage)

The comments to this entry are closed.


While I admire your willingness to go out on a limb and buck the consensus, Tom, I'd like to remind you that last year you predicted Peter O'Toole, and worried about Leo. Forest Whitaker, who was the frontrunner all through Oscar season, wasn't even on your radar. Who knows? Maybe this year it will pay off. :-)

ONEILFAN, would you be prepared to back those lines with money? I'd sure love to have a few dollars on anybody at 5000-1, not to mention the obvious value on Depp and Clooney.

Somehow I don't think you'll want to put up $25000 to win $5 against Viggo or Tommy Lee winning.

Am with CG-B and Cengiz on Johnny Depp, the sole unique performance among the quintet, and one that none of his competitors, not even all-but-certain winner Daniel Day-Lewis, could have achieved (DD-L's got an even rawer voice and his brand of bravura would overwhelm the character). Depp's chances at Oscar, like Clooney, Jones and Mortensen, are virtually nil, though; DD-L's award to lose.

You are just attempting to create excitement in a year where there is no excitement or surprises. The oscars rarely surprise and the difference with Adrian Brody winning was that he DESERVED it and was miles better than Day Lewis in Gangs. Here I don't think anyone stands a chance against him. I must say that if everyone love michael Clayton why does it look like it win nothing -- it should at least get best screenplay over Overrated Juno.

There are two huge differences between the situation when Brody won and this year. The year Brody won, DDL and Nicholson were considered co-favorites. Also, all of the nominees except Brody had already won. It was the perfect storm. I will eat all my shoes if DDL doesn't won. He should and he will.

FWIW, I'm a huge Johnny Depp fan but I would be really upset if he won. His performance, with his passable singing, just doesn't touch DDL's. Not this year.

are u kidding me??!!!! George Clooney has already said DDL deserves and am sure will be dissappointed even if he wins...DDL was snubbed so many times, George won a Best Supporting acting 2 EFFING YEARS AGO!!! DDL has earned his acclaim, and once again, if he is snubbed, it proves how effed up the Oscars are....I will cry if DDL doesn't'll be such a shame...

"But I ask you: If voters are really that keen on "Clayton," why would they put that vote anywhere but behind the man who makes them love it so? "

Doesn't that go double for TWBB and Day Lewis? He is the front and center of the film, the focal point of virtually every scene. Clooney is the star of his, but shares nominations with 2 other actors in the film. DDL is sole nominee from his film and the biggest reason why it's a Best Picture contender.

You know, when Julia Roberts won her Oscar over some more textured performances, she still wasn't facing anyone else nearly as famous as her and also at the peaks of their careers.

Umm there is no possible way that they will give Clooney 2 Oscars for acting before Day Lewis has 2...Depp has a better shot.

If George Clooney beats Daniel Day-Lewis it will be remembered as one of the biggest screw-jobs EVER. Period.

Who has an award and who doesn't should not even be a consideration. Both DDL and Clooney gave terrific performances this year, but both smacked of "been there done that." Only Depp offered a flawless performance waaaaay out of his comfort zone, the kind that truly deserves Oscar recognition. In a more perfect world, no contest.

I realize you must be bored to tears with less than one week to the Big Night, but seriously. There is no race here, the Oscar will go to DDL. Focus on the real races for Best Actress and Supporting Actress, and many of the technical categories. They are much more interesting and worthy of debate.

Tom, why do you insist on continuing to say "George Clooney has never been nominated in the lead acting race...."? You make it sound like he's been nominated bunches of times in the supporting race, but somehow never made it to leading. Its very misleading. He has only been nominated for one other acting award which he won, and frankly he only won THAT one because of Clooney Ass-Kissing pundits. There is also a note of "He should have been nominated before in this race but hasn't" tone when you make a comment like that. The man has made VERY few films that are even remotely considerable as oscar contenders, in fact, he's been nominated for those very few! So to make these manipulative comments really misleads your readers into thinking Clooney is something that he's not. He has emerged as a regular oscar contender only in the last few years, and certainly if someone would have asked you 5 years ago if you'd be kissing clooney ass again in 2008 in the oscar race, you, yourself, would have probably laughed....hysterically.

Here would be my odds:

Daniel Day Lewis 1-10
George Clooney 15-1
Johnny Depp 99-1
Tommy Lee Jones 5000-1
Viggo Mortensen 5000-1

I'm not counting Johnny Depp completely out of the race just yet. The one think Johnny hasn't got that both Day-Lewis and Clooney do have is an Oscar. With this I don't think Cate Blanchett will win the Oscar as well (Lead or Supporting). I think the academy will want to give it to someone else. And what better candidate than the ultra-hip, cool JOHNNY DEPP

Not a chance! George Clooney already has an oscar while Paul Newman was longgggggggggggg overdue.



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