Geez, has it really been two months since this blog saw a post?  In our defense, three of us are doing grad school in addition to the full time jobs we all hold down (I guess Adam is just lazy).  But no need to worry, now that Oscar season is heating up, we’ve been seeing movies.  And hopefully will get some thoughts up here.

Spurred on by two separate email conversations, I thought I’d check in on the Intrade market for Best Picture.  As a refresher, an Intrade share has a set expiration date, at which time it will pay out either $10 or $0.  In the market for Best Picture, each share represents a movie, so whichever movie wins Best Picture will pay out $10 and all other movies will pay out $0.  But you can buy and sell shares of movies at any point prior to the Oscars, so, in effect, the current share price represents the market’s prediction of the likelihood that film will win Best Picture.

According to Intrade, we are currently looking at a three-horse race.

FRONTRUNNERS

Les Miserables ($2.90) – So these discussions started last week when Ian declared Les Miserables the winner, leading me to check prices on Intrade.  At which point the film was trading around $1.50 – $1.70.  I have documented, time-stamped proof that Brian, John, and I all declared the film a strong buy at that price.  The film was actually trading around $1.60 yesterday.  So what changed?  Yesterday saw the first screenings of the film and though there’s still an embargo on full reviews, initial reports are that the film went over very well and is likely going to be a surefire contender for Best Picture.  Nice to see the market react so quickly.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the price dip a bit with the inevitable backlash and posts about how these were pro-musical audiences.  But a classic musical is the kind of thing that can start steamrolling through awards seasons.

Argo ($2.85) – Argo is a near-lock for a nomination.  I personally think it has a better than 29% chance to win it all, with the reviews, the box office, the massive cast of known actors (and actors make up a big chunk of the voting membership), it being a patriotic film where Hollywood is the hero, and the story of Ben Affleck’s redemption.  That said, it is hard to recommend a buy, because I’m not even sure a nomination alone will bump up the price, it would need to start winning some precursors.

Lincoln ($2.64) – Another near-lock for a nomination.  I saw this film yesterday, so I’m still sorting through my thoughts.  It has a lot going for it, obviously it is  Spielberg movie, has a huge cast, and the story of abolishing slavery is one that is going to resonate with the Academy.  The movie does have some flaws, though, and it isn’t nearly as broad in scope as a Spielberg Lincoln movie might be expected to be.  Probably best not to touch this one before precursors

OTHER STRONG CONTENDERS

Silver Linings Playbook ($0.52) – Nothing about a Bradley Cooper-led romantic comedy screams Oscar bait, I know.  But the film is directed by David O. Russell (and remember, The Fighter pulled two Oscar wins and an additional five nominations) and co-star Jennifer Lawrence may well be the front-runner for Best Actress.  The Gurus o’ Gold all believe the film will be nominated and Dave Karger (whose predictions have been spot on in years past) still believes the film will win the top spot.  It is looking like the film might not do as well as hoped at the box office this weekend, but given the apparent widespread love for the film, it might be smart to pick up this film right before the awards circuit heats up and sell it off after it climbs.

Zero Dark Thirty ($0.45) – John and I both pegged this as a strong buy.  (Though as I’m writing this, I got an e-mail from Xiaoyu about how he’s already lost money on it.)  The film is still largely a mystery, but it is now it is the one unseen film that still has a shot at the top prize.  Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), early word is that the film is top-notch, but maybe doesn’t adhere to many of the traditional Hollywood narrative structures.  We should get an idea as to this film’s future pretty quickly after some more screenings, but I’m betting (other people’s money) that we’ll see a spike.  And I know John is on board with me here.

OTHER FILMS OF NOTE

Life of Pi/The Master ($0.30/$0.20) – I don’t think either of these films have much of a shot at winning.  But they currently seem to be in position to get nominations, so if you believe that will bump their prices, they could provide some value.

Beasts of the Southern Wild ($0.08) – On the next tier of likelihood for a nomination, but it should do well with the Independent Spirit nominations this week, which might lead to a bump in price.

Amour/Flight/The Impossible/Moonrise Kingdom/The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ($0.03/$0.02/$0.02/$0.04/$0.02) – Maybe one or two of these get a nomination, and they may be seeing nominations in other categories, so if you feel like gambling with the penny stocks, these may be the way to go.

Django Unchained ($0.10) – Your guess is as good as mine.

 

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