Sports movies often get overlooked during Oscar season. The last time a sports film won Best Picture was 2005 when Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby took home the night’s most coveted award. Since then, it’s been crickets. Some sports movies and short films have been given some recognition with lesser awards (i.e.: Sandra Bullock - Best Supporting Actress, The Blind Side, 2010; Kobe Bryant - Best Animated Short Film, Dear Basketball, 2018), but Best Picture has steered clear of sports for over a decade-and-a-half at this point.
The 2021 biopic revolving around the upbringing and early careers of two of tennis’ all-time greatest athletes, sisters Venus and Serena Williams, King Richard has an opportunity to change that trend. The movie, which stars Will Smith as the titular Richard Williams alongside Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, and Jon Bernthal, does have some tough competition for Best Picture. Other films being nominated include Adam McKay’s social commentary Don’t Look Up, Denis Villenueve’s sci-fi epic Dune, Paul Thomas Anderson’s extremely controversial Licorice Pizza, and Philippe Rousselet’s CODA. King Richard currently has the fifth-best odds to take home Best Picture, according to OddsChecker US, at +5000. That being said, the public seems to think that King Richard has a better shot than those odds indicate.
OddsChecker indicates that, over the past seven days, 2.7 percent of all bets for Best Picture winner have been placed on King Richard — the fourth-highest rate of all films nominated. While it’s still a long way away from the movie receiving the most bets: CODA (65.3 percent), it’s still indicative of a film that the public views in higher esteem than the Academy, and that can sometimes have an effect on the outcome.
Still, King Richard is a heavy underdog in this race, and I mean MASSIVE! Dating back to 1974, the film with the lowest odds to actually win Best Picture was Braveheart in 1996, which was listed at +600 odds to win Best Picture. Those are incredible odds compared to King Richard, so instead of putting money down on that award, why not bet on something with a better chance of winning? For his performance as Richard Williams, Smith has the best odds to win Best Actor at -600, the highest rates by far. Yeah, it seems like a sure-fire hit, although you probably won’t make too much money with those odds. The public seems to agree. Over the past week, they’ve placed 60.3 percent of all bets for Best Actor on Will Smith.
Should Smith indeed take home the Academy Award, it will be the first win of his career in any category. Smith had previously been nominated for Best Actor for his roles in The Pursuit of Happyness and Ali, but the prestigious Oscar has eluded him.
While there have been some critiques of the film as a whole, particularly from Venus and Serena’s half-sister Sabrina Williams, who claims the film only tells “half the story,” it has been viewed in a mostly positive light by both Serena and Venus. After all, the two of them were “super involved” in the production of the film. Sure, King Richard may not win Best Picture, but hopefully it gets some recognition for the story it was able to tell of two of the greatest athletes of all-time.