Film Archives


Academy Awards Recap

It really was a travesty that there wasn’t an African-American nominated in any of the acting categories because the controversy hijacked the entire night. Virtually the premise of every joke and skit was based on race. I don’t blame this on the host Chris Rock, who I thought did a fine job. It was the just the circumstances. I thought again this year the show wasn’t very entertaining, but I was very happy with how the awards were distributed. Spotlight ended up pulling off a near 4-1 upset to win a very deserving Best Picture Oscar. The Revenant and the Mexican duo of Alejandro Inarritu and Emmanuel Lubezki rightfully took home Best Director and Best Cinematography. Mad Max: Fury Road grabbed the most statuettes as was expected. The acting categories went to form aside from the most notable upset of the night.

Sylvester Stallone was around a 75% chance to win his first Academy Award, but was upset by Bridge of Spies co-star Mark Rylance who was the second choice around 4-1. In retrospect this isn’t a huge shock as Stallone’s reputation around Hollywood isn’t the best. I also don’t think a lot of the voters had much respect for him playing Rocky Balboa. Stallone is Rocky and Rocky is Stallone. I still felt the Academy’s sentiment would put him over the top. The biggest upset of the night was in the Visual Effects category as Ex Machina won at odds of around 100-1+. Star Wars: The Force Awakes was a 1-2 (66%) favorite with Mad Max at around 3-1 (33%). I was very impressed with the winner’s speech as he knew how huge a long shot they were. Congrats to the Ex Machina team! The shorts continue to be very unpredictable as the 3rd choice won each of the three awards. There was an upset in the Original Song category with Sam Smith and that awful James Bond song beating Lady Gaga and a song from an important documentary. I was really surprised and disappointed by this one. 17 of the 24 favorites won. If you take out the shorts it would be 17 of 21.


As usual I crammed before the Oscars and in the previous 4 days watched: Spotlight, The Revenant, The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, Room, Amy and Steve Jobs. Spotlight was a near perfect movie with no wasted words and so well crafted. The Revenant was a visual marvel. I think the Academy did an excellent job this year in the voting. I would expect next year at least one African-American nominee in each of the four acting categories. Last year I advocated for Kevin Hart to be the host and that is still a possibility for next year. Jimmy Fallon I know is also on the short list as well. I just hope it is a more entertaining show.


Spot on Tradies News in a Nutshell with Scott

on SEN 1116 in Melbourne, Australia

Steph Curry continues to do the unimaginable as he broke/tied a pair of NBA records last night. I recap the recent action across the NBA and pick a couple of tonight’s games. A big night for Ben Simmons and LSU, but it is going to be very hard for them to make it into the NCAA Tournament. The NHL last night had another game in their Stadium Series. The PGA Tour is in action at the Honda Classic. A final word about the Academy Awards and the sports connection as Sylvester Stallone is favored to win his first Oscar.

Starts at the 25:45 minute mark, at the 30:55 minute mark I pick a couple of tonight’s NBA games.


Academy Award Update

therevenantI have nothing really to update. There has been little to no change in any of the major awards. The Revenant is up 5% to 68% to win Best Picture, Spotlight is 20% and The Big Short is 11%. This is the trend across the board as the favorites in virtually every category have only become even more certain to take home the Oscar. There are two exceptions. All three of the Shorts (Animated, Live Action and Documentary) have seen the odds-on favorites having their odds jump (chances of winning drop) to more than even-money and the 2nd choices are now almost equal. In the Documentary Short category there is a new favorite as Claude Lanzmann: Spectres OTS is now ahead of Body Team 12, but both are around 40%. The shorts are hard to predict, but that is where these pools will be won. The Sound Mixing and Sound Editing awards have gotten tighter with the Revenant gaining on Mad Max: Fury Road. The Revenant will end up taking home the most statuettes if they take both of the Sound awards. #OscarsSoMexican This is three years in a row with Gravity and Alfonso Cuarón two years ago and Birdman last year where a movie directed by a Mexican has dominated the Awards.

Predictwise will convert the Betfair odds on their site throughout the night if you want to stay live with the market and not have to convert from UK Odds to percentage chance.


Spot on the All Night Appetite with Scotty

on SEN 1116 in Melbourne, Australia

As we almost always do we start with Golden State Warriors and recap the rest of the action in the NBA. We discuss Ben Simmons and LSU chances at the NCAA tournament. I talk about the Brooklyn Nets hiring a Kiwi, Sean Marks, as General Manager. I pick 4 of tonight’s NBA games, all small underdogs. Then segue to the Academy Awards. Then talk a little golf and give a Tiger Woods update. A little Davis Cup tennis as it will be US versus Australia, which is news to me. I get a New York Yankees question to end the show.

Starts at the 32:50 minute mark, at the 42:20 minute mark I pick a few of tonight’s NBA game.


Academy Awards Preview

SPOILER ALERT! If you want to be surprised on Sunday night when the envelopes are unsealed and the winners are announced do not read any further. If you want to dominate you Oscar pool you have come to the right place.

As always I go to Betfair the best prediction market in the world. This is my 8th year looking at the UK-based bet matching site’s Academy Award odds. Unfortunately I know all too well that favorites win at a very high rate. If you want to read more about the basis for using Betfair, I wrote more extensively about it last year. You can read those articles if you CLICK HERE. or click on “FILM” under categories.

This year I am just going to list each category and the percentage chance the Betfair market gives to win the golden statuette.

Best Picture:
The Revenant – 63%
Spotlight – 24%
The Big Short – 12%
Note: The trend favors The Revenant as both Spotlight and The Big Short were both odds on favorites (60%+) at some point this year. I personally hope it is Spotlight. Here is the chart for “The Big Short”. Sorry I couldn’t resist.


Best Director:
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu: 87%
George Miller – 8%
Adam McKay – 3%
Note: #OscarsSoMexican This will be back to back wins for Inarritu in this category and will likely also take home the biggest prize of the night as a Producer on The Revenant. George Miller is a live long shot for Mad Max: Fury Road. Adam McKay (The Big Short) is taking a big step up in class from Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Step Brothers.

Leading Actor:
Leonardo DiCaprio – 96%
Note: Last year’s winner Eddie Redmayne most likely will come in second.

Leading Actress:
Brie Larson – 93%
Note: Saoirse Ronan only other potential winner.

Supporting Actor:
Sylvester Stallone – 70%
Mark Rylance – 23%
Tom Hardy – 5%
Note: Have to figure Stallone will win his first Oscar on his 2nd acting nomination. The other was in 1977 for Rocky I. Tom Hardy is a live underdog, he is very well respected in Hollywood.

Supporting Actress:
Alicia Vikander – 70%

Kate Winslet – 19%
Rooney Mara – 11%
Note: Michael Fassbender nominated in the Leading Actor category for Steve Jobs will lose to Leo, but he is dating the favorite here, Alicia Vikander and that makes him a winner in my book. I am hoping Rooney Mara can pull off a Super Bowl 42 like upset. Lets go Giants!!!

Original Screenplay:
Spotlight – 83%

Inside Out – 13%

Adapted Screenplay:
The Big Short – 91%

Note: Room and Brooklyn battling it out for second.

Documentary Feature:
Amy – 83%

Cartel Land – 10%
The Look of Silence – 5%

Documentary Short:
Body Team 12 – 53%

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres OTS – 24%
A Girl in the River: The POF – 14%
Chau, Beyond the Lines – 5%
Last Day of Freedom – 4%

Animated Feature:
Inside Out – 98%

Note: Must be fun going into the show knowing you are going to win.

Animated Short:
Sanjay’s Super Team – 54%

World of Tomorrow – 35%
Bear Story – 10%

Foreign Language:
Son of Saul – 85%
Theeb and Mustang battling it out for second.

Live Action Short:
Ave Maria – 56%

Shok – 30%
Stutterer – 12%

Original Song:
Til It Happens To You – 67%

Writing’s On the Wall -12%
Earned It – 11%
Simple Song #3 – 7%
Manta Ray – 3%

Original Score:
The Hateful Eight – 82%

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 13%
Sicario – 4%

Sound Mixing:
Mad Max: Fury Road – 57%

The Revenant – 37%
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 5%

Sound Editing:
Mad Max: Fury Road – 62%

The Revenant – 28%
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 9%

Visual Effects:
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 60%

Mad Max: Fury Road – 32%
The Revenant – 8%

Production Design:
Mad Max: Fury Road – 87%

Film Editing:
Mad Max: Fury Road – 77%

The Big Short – 15%
The Revenant – 5%
Spotlight – 3%

The Revenant – 93%

Note: [Correction] This will be three straight wins wins for Emmanuel Lubezki who won last year for Birdman and two years ago for Gravity. Mad Max: Fury Road most likely second with The Hateful Eight in third.

Costume Design:
Mad Max: Fury Road – 51%

Cinderella – 28%
Carol – 18%

Makeup and Hairstyling:
Mad Max: Fury Road – 78%

The Revenant – 20%

It looks like The Revenant will take home the big prizes, but Mad Max: Fury Road should collect the most statues. I will have an update early Sunday afternoon with any significant changes.


Oscars Recap

It was a terribly boring Academy Awards show from the very predictable opening song and dance number to the even more predictable final award for Best Picture. It was poorly directed and produced, running extremely long with mistakes throughout. Neil Patrick Harris was an awful host providing nothing but stale jokes and bad puns. 20 out of the 24 winners were favorites, with the four “upsets” all the 2nd choice. The only real upset was in the Animated Feature category with Big Hero 6 winning over How to Drain Your Dragon 2. The others were Whiplash for Editing, Birdman for Original Screenplay and Grand Budapest Hotel for Original Score. The ratings were way down as well, around 15% lower than last years and worst since 2008 and 3rd worst of the 21st century (it is strange writing that). Kevin Hart is campaigning to host next year’s show. He should be a lock. He does live stand up in front of huge audiences and is full-fledged movie star. I think he would do a great job and draw a big ratings number. I don’t think NPH draws many viewers who wouldn’t already be watching the Oscars. The opening was something straight out a Tony Awards show and I’m sure turned off a lot of straight male viewers.

I don’t know how much the fact that this year’s awards were so predictable played into the lower ratings. Nothing against J.K. Simmons, Patricia Arquette or Juilanne Moore, but I don’t think anyone considered their first-ever Oscar speeches to be must see. Michael Keaton on the other hand would have been more interesting, but again anyone following the odds knew that Eddie Redmayne was a near certainty to be making the speech. A 63-year old American acting legend from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania doesn’t compare to a 33-year old Brit who is barely known in the U.S. My Twitter feed, being almost exclusively sports based and very international, had very few posting about the Oscars, aside from a group of Pittsburgh people who were upset and suggesting an anti-Yinzer bias.

One interesting fact from NPH’s monologue is that American Sniper has made as much money at the box office as the other 7 nominees combined ($300 million for AS of $600 million). The joke bombed which was a cheap shot fired at Oprah being rich almost came off as a fat joke until Doogie Howser had to explain it to the audience. I think the fact that most people knew that American Sniper wasn’t winning and didn’t care about any of the other 7 didn’t have them tuning in. I’m not sure how ratings are measured, but a lot more Americans eyes would have been on the set if Clint Eastwood was having the final words on stage as opposed to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.


Academy Awards Preview

February 22nd 2009 was one of the more exciting days of my life. I attended the 81st Academy Awards as an executive producer of a film nominated for Best Documentary Feature, “Trouble the Water”. It is an incredible story of survival in one of if not the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina. A year before in January 2008, the film won the Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival. An event I probably would have never attended otherwise. It was so much fun, I went the next year and was introduced to Craig “Hutchy” Hutchison (by the Aussie/American radio legend Brad Blanks) and made my radio debut the next morning on the All Night Appetite on SEN in Melbourne, Australia and 6 years later I am still a regular contributor to the show. Shortly after that this blog was born and it is fair to say I might not be writing this if it weren’t for my involvement in the film “Trouble the Water”.

Leading up to the Oscars I knew the odds in all the major categories, but couldn’t find a sportsbook that made odds for any of the “lesser” Oscars such as the documentaries, shorts, or the technical awards. Just a year prior, I was introduced to (again by Brad Blanks). The London-based Betfair Exchange is just like a stock or futures market where you could BOTH buy or bet on (back) an event to occur or sell or bet against (lay) that event to occur. The fact that you can bet on or against, buy or sell, back or lay creates odds that are so much better for the bettor. Betfair makes money by taking a 5% commission from the winning side. As a futures trader a fair sports market that was liquid and legal in the U.S. has always been a dream. It feels like we are getting closer to it happening as Betfair is involved heavily in American horse racing (they own TVG) and in online poker and casino gambling in the state of New Jersey. They are waiting for legal approval, though online sports gambling being legal nationwide is still probably years away. Not being able to trade them, I have used Betfair markets extensively to determine value for world sporting events and occasionally American ones as well, though liquidity is limited, especially for live U.S. events that take place in the middle of the night in the UK. The night before the show I figured I would check Betfair though I wasn’t expecting them to have much on the U.S. Academy Awards. These weren’t the BAFTA’s after all. Betfair had every single Oscar Award listed and a viable and liquid market if you wanted to back or lay any nominee. First I checked the major awards and the markets were in line with the North American sportsbooks listed odds. Then came the moment of truth, I went to the Documentary Feature market and my heart sank. The favorite in the media’s eyes, “Man on Wire” was also the market favorite at around 1.33 in European terms. That is -300 in American terms, but more clearly a 75% chance of winning. “Trouble the Water” was valued at 7.0 in European terms or 6-1, or about a 15% chance of claiming the Oscar. Each of the other 3 nominees had odds of around 25-1+ which gave them each around a 3%-4% chance of pulling off the upset. I was trying to stay positive throughout the day. I was telling myself a 6-1 shot can upset a 1-3 odds on favorite, it happens all the time. But alas, the market was right and “Man on Wire” won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. I can never prove it, but I am convinced “Trouble the Water” came in second. Ever since 2009 I have used the Betfair market as my benchmark when placing wagers in Vegas or making selections for the occasional Oscar party pools. I would expect that the Betfair market will do a good job predicting who will take home the gold statuettes on February 22nd 2015.

I have always been a fan of the Academy Awards and I don’t think as an adult I have ever missed watching a telecast. It isn’t because I care about the celebrities or the entertainment within the show and it certainly has nothing to the do with fashion or the red carpet. It is for those 2 seconds of silence as the award presenter is struggling to open the envelope. It is one of those few times on the calendar that it feels like the eyes of America are watching pure drama. Live moments that are completely unscripted and unpredictable. The similarities to a major sporting event are obvious. When the seal of the envelope is broken and winner announced it is similar to a free throw in the air in the NBA Finals, the last few yards of the Kentucky Derby or a golfer standing over the winning putt at the Masters. I wouldn’t dare say it’s like 2nd and goal in the Super Bowl with 26 seconds left down 4 points and somehow they call the riskiest play instead of giving it… sorry. Live sporting events though are far superior to awards shows for unpredictability as the votes are already cast and tabulated, in this case by the fine accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Only two partners know the results and they wouldn’t possibly leak them. So how are the odds makers in Vegas or the Betfair Exchange traders and market makers usually so accurate? For the major categories a lot can be gleamed from the awards leading up to the Oscars. I would also think they use some polling method, probably getting a small sample of voter’s selections. Either way I am going to trust them and just relay the information to you. Instead of dealing with odds and have to translate them from European, to traditional UK or to American I will convert the odds into probability of winning in percentage terms.

Just as I finished writing this I discovered an article in the New York Times that was very similar to what I have just written.

What was more upsetting is there is a very good prediction website out that exists that I hadn’t known about.

This site uses Betfair as their benchmark as well and then creates their own probabilities based on other prediction/trading markets. They basically did all the calculations and laid it out in table form exactly as I was going to, though their formatting is far superior to mine. If you want to see if you have some edge against a sportsbook odds or you want to dominate the Oscar pool, check out Predictwise. I thought I was on to something that few others in America understood, but evidently that is not the case. Here is a sample of what I was going to present:

Birdman – 59%
Boyhood – 36%
The Imitation Game – 1.5%
The Grand Budapest Hotel – 1%
American Sniper – 1%
Whiplash – 1%
The Theory of Everything – .3%
Selma – .2%

As you can see this is virtually identical (aside from the formatting):

Well at least I found this site and don’t have to do a lot of spreadsheet work. I do have something to say about the Best Picture race. Usually I do a better job in seeing most if not all of the movies. This is not the case this year, but I hope to cram a few in the next couple of days. I did see the two films that are in contention for the Oscar. In my opinion it isn’t even close. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was a wonderful piece of art and highly entertaining and a movie I could watch multiple times over. Boyhood was an absolute bore and really a gimmick if you think about it. I couldn’t imagine watching one minute of that movie again. I think you need to be a parent to find something in it at all. The only interesting characters were the two parents played by Ethan Hawke who got a supporting actor nomination and Patricia Arquette who is a virtual lock for the supporting actress award (as you will see in the odds, 97% on BF). Both of their performances were excellent. It was an impressive filmmaking feat by Richard Linklater, but ultimately an unrewarding experience for this viewer at least.

If you haven’t seen “Trouble the Water” please check it out on DVD or on HULU, it is an inspirational and uplifting story of survival in the wake of a disaster that went far past just the storm. Also coming to theaters in New York City and Los Angeles on Wednesday February 25th is “Farewell to Hollywood”. Trailer can be found at:


Recap of TNF and Other Thoughts

Just as we saw three years to the day, there was a lopsided game in the Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers rivalry. It was a really ugly games as many Thursday Night Football games are. We will be seeing a lot more of this throughout the year, as it is so hard for teams to recover and prepare in just 4 days after their previous game. It really isn’t a good product they are putting out there on National network TV. Either way I will take the win and am very happy with the way the Baltimore Ravens looked. They started behind the 8-ball already having lost to the reigning division champion Cincinnati Bengals in the opener, but I still like them to win the division. They have a very strong balanced offense with a solid offensive line that is learning offensive coordianator Gary Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme. Losing Ray Rice is another negative, but both Bernard Pierce and Justin Forsett are capable running backs. Steve Smith Sr. has looked fantastic so far this season, as has both tight ends Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels. The defense has been rebuilt after being raided in free agency the previous season after winning the Super Bowl. They are very tough and physical and have a quality secondary. John Harbaugh as a former special teams coach, always has that undervalued part of the team play as one of the best units in the NFL. They have one of the top place kickers in the league in Justin Tucker, very important for a outdoor Northeast team. As for Pittsburgh I think they will be mediocre this season, right around .500 probably on the outside of the playoffs. The offense should be much better, they made a lot of mistakes had a very key fumble ruining what was a controlling opening drive. I think they will be able score points, it’s the other side of the ball that is the concern. There is defense a mix of old and young isn’t at the level we are used to with Dick Lebeau and the Steelers. They were very undisciplined last night and that was a key contributor as well to their resounding defeat.

As for the games on Sunday no significant movement in any the lines and the only circled game is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 point favorites over the St. Louis Rams. A circled game is one in which there is a key factor usually an injury that could effect the line drastically. Though the game is open to bet, sportsbooks put certain limits on both size and sometimes the type of wagers they will accept. In this case the reason is Rams starting (though 2nd string) quarterback Shaun Hill being questionable with a leg injury. Former Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis, who played the 2nd half last week for St. Louis, would start if Hill were unable to go.

I think I can pretty much tell you what my picks are going to be now for Sunday and it may sound really silly, but here it goes. I will be taking the home team in the first 11 games in the rotation and the road team in the last 3. The rotation is the Donbest number order of games, they are set well in advance and with league time changes can get out of order. For Sunday the first 11 include all of the 1pm ET games, both of the 4:05pm tilts and the 4:25pm game with the Oakland Raiders hosting the Houston Texans. The 3 road teams I will be taking are the other two 4:25 starts the New York Jets at the Green Bay Packers, the Kansas City Chiefs at the Denver Broncos and the night game with Chicago Bears at the San Francisco 49ers, in the first regular season game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. I know this sounds like something out of “Owning Mahowny”, more on that later, but that is just how it works out. I feel the market undervalues home field advantage and I wrote extensively on that last season, I will repost a piece of it shortly. The three road teams I will mostly likely be taking are the three biggest underdogs of the day. If nothing changes I would be taking 5 favorites and 8 underdogs, the Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills are a pick ‘em. That is a nice balance as I hope to be taking around 60%-70% underdogs for the season.

If any of you are like me and like gambling and like movies and love good movies about gambling, “a must see is Owning Mahowny”. It is based on the real life story of Brian Molony a Toronto banker with “a little bit of gambling problem”, to put it lightly. Dan Mahowny, played by the late great legen Philip Seymour Hoffman, made his sports bets with similar patterns. He would bet “every home team in the American League and every road team in the National League. Or he would play the 1 horse in every race at Woodbine. There are times I do similar things. I will see a certain pattern or play some quirky streak. It’s all about trying to get to above that magic 52.4% level into profitability. I will be naming my top five gambling movies, along with my worst five in a post next week. Owning Mahowny will be in the Top 3 for sure and is a legit shot at number one.


The House I Live In trailer


All Night Appetite w/ Andrew (SEN 1116)

A discussion about the biggest sports rivalries in the US is brought on by the Thrilla in Manila documentary and the rivalry between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. A blast from my past as we talk about Julius Hodge who is playing basketball for the Melbourne Tigers. He is playing in Australia as he tries to get a chance to return to the NBA. A discussion on the NBA action this week as the Cleveland Cavaliers have been playing good ball, Andrew Bogut is injured, the Nets are winless, the Hornets have won a couple and the Knicks pass on Allen Iverson. The NASCAR season comes to an end today, Marcos Ambrose should be very happy with the year his team had. The NFL Week 11 is underway with the New York Giants facing a near must win against the Atlanta Falcons. The pressure is on Eli Manning and his receiving corp to produce. The 2-7 Oakland Raiders take on the 7-2 Cincinnati Bengals, I give the Raiders a shot and definitely would take the 9 points. The Minnesota Vikings are threatening to leave town, they can’t leave winter is depressing enough in Minnesota.