Online bookies go to the movies to bet on Oscar favourites
By maddy
Online bookies love the Oscars, more than movie buffs or movie critics. With two more weeks to go, for the 76th Academy Awards (Oscar) nominations, and more than 8 weeks for the awards, online bookies already are betting on The Lord of the Rings (LOTR): Return of the King to win the Oscar for best picture.

With nominations expected to be announced on January 27, and the live awards ceremony on February 29, several online betting companies have their odds up for the third-instalment of the Tolkien epic, but some say bets on Return of the King are not going to reap much reward for gamblers.

However, believes LOTR could be third time lucky. 'After snubbing the first two parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Hollywood is preparing to crown Jackson and his movie. The Return of the King is long odds-on to become the first fantasy film to win the major prize. Odds are on Lord of the Rings because it had already missed out twice,' says Centrebet sports betting manager Gerard Daffy.

South African Charlize Theron is the hot pick for best actress, for her role in Monster. The New Zealand TAB cannot offer betting on novelty events such as the Oscars.

Australian-based is betting on neighbour, Peter Jackson as hot favourite for best director with odds of 1-5. The site also has the final of the Lord of the Rings movies at 3-10 to win best picture. Jackson's mate includes other New Zealanders with odds on Centrebet are Russell Crowe to win best actor, at 9-1 for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and the 12-year old Whale Rider star Keisha Castle-Hughes to win best supporting actress at odds of 80 to 1.

With 7 more weeks to go, the tables could still turn. But some online bookies like UK's betting group had Lord of the Rings at 1-4, as did Irish bookie Paddy Power. Cold Mountain or Mystic River were second pick for most, and Sean Penn was favourite for best actor for his role in Mystic River.

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