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Thread: 2004 Academy Awards, Hockey Night, & Soccer - Get in the Game - with Nigel Ridgway - this weekend!

  1. #1  
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    Sep 2004

    Get In The Game - with Nigel Ridgway of bet365 *US Edition*

    Written by Nigel Ridgway 2004-02-26 13:06:42

    2004 Academy Awards
    After weeks of speculation the 76th Annual Academy Awards is nearly upon us, and there are no prizes for predicting that Lord of the Rings will take the Best Film Award (now priced at 1/20), while Peter Jackson must already be practicing his acceptance speech for Best Director (again 1/20!). The Best Actor award, however, now appears to be wide open, after sustained support for Johnny Depp over the past week (now 11/4), behind Bill Murray (13/8) and Sean Penn (5/6). Penn has arguably put in the best performance here for his role in Mystic River, but it is common knowledge that the Academy has taken a ‘dislike’ to him - and the feeling is mutual! Anyone who took my advice on Charlize Theron for the Best Actress award two weeks ago will be glad to know that she is now 1/4 from 1/10, while Renee Zellweger (Cold Mountain) is 1/6 from 2/5 for Best Supporting Actress. And the winner is…

    Patrick Elias and the Devils are struggling to reach the heights of last season, and the defending champions face a tough trip to the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night. The Blues are in danger of missing the play-offs for the first time in 25 years, and on Tuesday fired Coach Joel Quenneville, replacing him with assistant Mike Kitchen on an interim basis. On Saturday they slide into Vancouver for a key play-off battle against the Canucks.

    Join us for live betting on the following games, where our markets will include: Puck Line; Game Total; Next Goal Scored; Most Shots on Goal; Who Will Win the Period; and Next Period Total:

    NJ Devils @ TOR M Leafs
    Feb 28 – 7:00 pm EST (CBC)
    29 Feb-00:00 GMT

    STL Blues @ VAN Canucks
    Feb 28 – 10:00 pm EST (CBC)
    29 Feb-03:00 GMT

    PIT Penguins @ NY Islanders
    Feb 29 – 4:00 pm EST (ESPN)
    29 Feb-21:00 GMT

    bet365 latest Stanley Cup prices…COL Avalanche 7/2, Red Wings 5/1, Senators 6/1, others on site

    The NJ Nets’ seasonal record breaking run of 14 wins finally came to an end on Wednesday night after succumbing to the Minnesota Timberwolves (68-81), but they still find themselves challenging Indiana for favouritism at the top of the Eastern Conference.

    bet365 prices...Pacers 7/4, Nets, 12/5, Pistons 11/4, others on site.

    Sunday night’s live NBA game has the Seattle Supersonics taking on the Rockets at the Houston Arena. Join us for LIVE betting on this and the following college games this weekend, where our markets will include: Point Spread; Game Total; and Who Will Win the Quarter:

    St Josephs @ Rhode Island
    Feb 28 – 12:00 pm EST (ESPN2)
    28 Feb-17:00 GMT

    Florida @ Arkansas
    Feb 28 – 4:00 pm EST
    28 Feb-21:00 GMT

    SEA SSonics @ HOU Rockets
    Feb 29 – 4:00 pm EST (NBATV)
    29 Feb-20:00 GMT

    bet365 latest NBA Championship prices…Lakers 11/10, Kings 3/1, Timberwolves 11/2, others on site

    Major League Baseball
    The Florida Marlins will set out to defend their improbable World Series Championship as 25/1 chances here at bet365, when their regular season starts on April 6th. They will once again be under the care of Jack McKeon, who at 73 is the oldest manager to win a World Series! The NY Yankees will start the season as favourites at 11/4, but as their spring training kicks into gear at Legends Field, only four players remain in the side from the original 96 club that began their incredible championship run – six World Series appearances in the past eight Octobers. One of those players, catcher Jorge Posada, an American League MVP candidate last year must learn the ins and outs of four newcomers after eleven players left the Yankees over the winter.

    bet365 prices…NY Yankees 11/4, BOS Red Sox 11/2, CHI Cubs 13/2, ANA Angels 11/1, others on site.

    With the spring training schedule nearly upon us, bet365 has come up with some interesting Seasonal Specials:

    Al Cy Young (best pitcher) 2004…
    P Martinez (BOS Red Sox) 5/2, C Shilling (BOS RedSox) 3/1, J Vasquez (NY Yankees) 6/1, others on site.

    AL MVP 2004…
    A Rodriguez (NY Yankees) 7/2, V Guerrero (ANA Angels) 6/1, G Sheffield (NY Yankees) 6/1, others on site.

    NL Cy Young 2004…
    M Prior (CHI Cubs) 7/2, J Beckett (FLA Marlins) 5/1, K Wood (CHI Cubs) 5/1, others on site.

    NL MVP 2004…
    A Pujols (STL Cardinals) 4/1, S Sosa (CHI Cubs) 5/1, J Kent (HOU Astros) 11/2, others on site.

    Most Regular Season Home Runs…
    Alex Rodriguez 7/2, Sammy Sosa 4/1, Albert Pujols 9/2, others on site.

    World Matchplay Championship golf
    This week’s Accenture World Matchplay is already under way but that doesn’t mean that you cannot still get involved. Outright and match prices will be available daily after each round, with IN-RUNNING betting available on selected matches during TV coverage. A word of warning, however, last year’s victory by Tiger Woods was the first by anybody seeded among the top ten of this 64-man knockout competition. In fact only 58% of the matches played over the last five years have been won by the higher seed; so don’t be afraid to go for the underdog. The likes of Singh, Mickleson and Goosen do not have good records here and could be worth taking on in their matches. Last year’s USPGA Championship winner Sean Micheel, although seeded to meet Tiger in the quarter-finals, may be a decent long-shot after showing glimmers of his best form recently.

    The other event stateside this week is the Chrysler Classic of Tucson, but with no TV coverage planned we shall not be betting IN-RUNNING on this event. However, outright prices will be available after each round along with a selection of 2/3 balls. My pre-tournament pick this week has to be the talented but frustrating Jeff Maggert (rarely wins), who has been showing decent form of late, and who could be inspired by his imminent milestone 40th birthday on Friday. Also, expect a good showing from former University of Arizona star Rickie Barnes, 18th here last year as an amateur!

    bet365 pre-tournament show…J Daly 10/1, J Maggert 18/1, R Barnes 33/1.

    US Auto Racing
    With NASCAR taking a week off, the main racing stateside is the Toyota Indy 300 at the Miami Speedway, the opening race of the new Indy Racing League. With an open look to this year’s series it would be no surprise to see another Championship go down to the final race with five or six drivers still in contention. Roger Penske, who took his team out of the struggling cart series three years ago, is still looking for his first Indy Car Series Championship. However, his team has been strengthened by the addition of Sam Hornish Jr, champion of the 2001 and 2002 titles, and it would be no surprise to see Hornish open his account at the first attempt for his new team, ahead of team-mate Helio Castro Neves.

    bet365 prices…Hornish Jr 3/1, HC Neves 4/1, R Buhl 3/1, S Dixon 11/2, others on site.

    Have a great weekend!


    Please be aware that prices are subject to change.
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    Jul 2002
    Where Needed
    Here is a little info about the major categories for the Academy Awards.

    Touch of gold
    A categorical look at which performances are likely to earn that 8-1/2 -pound gilded statuette

    By Scott Tobias
    In an Oscar season full of surprises, none was larger than Keisha Castle-Hughes, the luminous 13-year-old Kiwi star of "Whale Rider," who beat out several more-seasoned contenders to become the youngest-ever best actress nominee. What's more, the category was so hotly contested that "Rider's" nascent distributor, Newmarket, pushed her for a supporting role, hedging its bets against such formidable Oscar perennials as Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Connelly and Cate Blanchett. It's perhaps especially apropos, then, that Castle-Hughes' nomination should come for a movie like "Rider," in which she plays a precocious outsider who bucks long-held tribal traditions.

    In the past, Academy members, too, were tagged as notorious traditionalists, incapable of looking beyond their inner circle. But the range and imagination of this year's acting nominations show encouraging signs that they're casting their eyes abroad. In addition to New Zealand's Castle-Hughes, three other first-time nominees hail from far-flung places around the globe: Shohreh Aghdashloo, an Iranian exile whose earthy authenticity won her a supporting nom for DreamWorks' "House of Sand and Fog"; Japan's Ken Watanabe, whose understated supporting performance stands out from Warner Bros. Pictures' otherwise-neglected "The Last Samurai"; and Djimon Hounsou, a former model from the West African enclave of Benin who confirmed his promise in 1997's "Amistad" with a pivotal turn in Fox Searchlight's"In America."

    Globalization might be a running theme, but the trend toward diversity extends to the continuing parity of independent and major-studio contenders and, perhaps, a greater willingness to consider comedic performances on the same level as dramatic ones. Save for best actor, the likely winners in each category make it an easy year for prognosticators, but in many other respects, it's an open field. Returning favorites such as Ben Kingsley and Diane Keaton compete against major stars who had never before been nominated, such as Johnny Depp, Alec Baldwin and Bill Murray. Helping to sort through the cherished and the unworthy, the graced and the snubbed, are Michael Musto, gossip columnist for the Village Voice; Andrew Johnston, chairman of the 2003 New York Film Critics Circle, and Lisa Beach, casting director for Alexander Payne's comedies (including 1999's "Election" and 2002's "About Schmidt"), 1999's "Girl, Interrupted" and the "Scream" series, among others.

    Best actor nominees:
    Johnny Depp, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"
    Ben Kingsley, "House of Sand and Fog"
    Jude Law, "Cold Mountain"
    Bill Murray, "Lost in Translation"
    Sean Penn, "Mystic River"

    "Let's not forget our brothers on the other side of the aisle -- the dramatic actors," Murray joked in a memorable acceptance speech after winning the Golden Globe for best actor (comedy/musical) for "Translation." "I'd just like to say: Where would our war, our miseries and our psychological traumas come from?"

    Beyond merely poking fun at the Globes' segregated categories, Murray's quip suggests that such distinctions are unnecessary, especially when great performances often blur the line between the dramatic and the comedic. Following his soulful turn in 1998's "Rushmore" -- which, tellingly, didn't get so much as a nomination -- Murray's tailor-made role as an American actor in Tokyo undercuts his usual irreverence with powerful undercurrents of melancholy.

    "To me, it's the tears of a clown," Beach says. "Here's a man who's always funny, funny, funny, and people are left to imagine what's going on inside. There's a deep well of sorrow that he taps into with this performance, and I think the Academy is going to respond to that."

    "(Murray) could squeak in there," agrees Musto, though he favors Penn in a two-man race for the award. "To me, his performance represents so much of what was good about the movie -- the jaded, bittersweet humor and smartass vulnerability. It's such a non-showy performance that (awarding him) would really be a step forward for Oscar."

    If conventional wisdom holds, Murray ultimately will bow to Penn, a four-time nominee who has never won an Oscar despite widespread consensus that he's one of his generation's most austere and accomplished actors. In many ways, the men are partners in eccentricity, both stubborn iconoclasts who are normally inclined to shun the media and awards shows, much less take part in an Oscar campaign. But Penn remains committed to supporting "River," a film that relies entirely on performance over spectacle and leans on his wrenching turn to carry much of the dramatic load.

    Although Musto confesses to disliking "River" and not buying Penn's "method-actor-y grief," he believes that it's Penn's time to win. "It's a career-achievement thing," Musto says. "That movie and his performance have the kind of gravitas that the Academy likes to reward. Also, I think Sean has mellowed a bit, and people want to embrace him because he's a little more accessible."

    Next to Murray and Penn, the other nominees barely qualify as dark-horse possibilities, but Johnston is pleasantly surprised by Depp's appearance, especially in a frivolous summer blockbuster like "Pirates." Although the New York Critics Circle gave its best actor award to Murray, Johnston says, "As much as I love Murray's work, Depp's is perhaps the better and certainly the more entertaining performance. But it's the kind of thing that never gets nominated, and when it does, it never wins. (Depp) deserved a nomination for (1994's) 'Ed Wood' and others, but he tends to do those movies that wouldn't get nominated in a million years. No one would ever think of 'Pirates' as an Oscar movie -- not remotely."

    Although heartened by Depp's nomination, Johnston remains skeptical that the Academy will continue to consider light-hearted roles on the same plane as serious ones, citing Paul Giamatti in Fine Line's "American Splendor" as a particularly egregious omission. "I consider Murray's a dramatic performance with strong comedic elements," Johnston says. "If (the Academy) were really more open to comedic performances, I think Giamatti would have gotten recognized; same with George Clooney in 'Intolerable Cruelty,' Billy Bob Thornton in 'Bad Santa' and Jack Black in 'School of Rock.' These were some of my favorite performances, but they didn't stand a chance. It's just too skimpy to seem like a trend."

    Will win: Bill Murray, "Lost in Translation"
    Should win: Murray

    Best actress nominees:
    Keisha Castle-Hughes, "Whale Rider"
    Diane Keaton, "Something's Gotta Give"
    Samantha Morton, "In America"
    Charlize Theron, "Monster"
    Naomi Watts, "21 Grams"

    Not since Robert De Niro in 1980's "Raging Bull" has a performer undergone a transformation as striking as "Monster's" Theron, who added more than 25 pounds to her svelte frame and pocked her alabaster face with a mass of freckles and broken capillaries. Playing Aileen Wuornos, a hitchhiker and prostitute who was executed for killing at least six men off of Florida highways, Theron shoulders the tricky burden of humanizing the tabloid-tarred "first female serial killer" while providing a clear window into her madness. A side-by-side comparison of the made-up Theron and the real-life Wuornos reveals uncanny similarities: the buggy eyes, the awkward gait, the jerky mannishness of movement. But at nearly half a foot taller than Wuornos, Theron's Amazonian height makes her seem larger-than-life, which is appropriate for a woman who met her vilification with equal defiance.

    Already hailed "one of the greatest performances in the history of cinema" by critic Roger Ebert, Theron appears certain to ride her Golden Globes victory to an Oscar.

    Anyone who has questioned Theron's commitment as a serious actress will have reason for pause, but the questions remains: Is it an enduring turn or a high-concept stunt?

    Musto doesn't see those qualities as mutually exclusive. "It was definitely a stunt," he says. "But it's a stunt that she pulled off, and it's what she had to do to wake people up to the fact that there's an actress inside of this beautiful persona. I think she did an amazing job and is definitely the best of the five."

    "My criteria is always, 'Is there anyone else who could have played the role?'" says Beach, who cites the casting of Reese Witherspoon in "Election" as her primary yardstick. "Just like Meryl Streep for (1982's) 'Sophie's Choice' or Hilary Swank for (1999's) 'Boys Don't Cry,' nobody else could have done what Charlize does in 'Monster.' It's an extremely innovative casting choice."

    In the unlikely event that Theron doesn't collect her first Oscar, the votes could go to Keaton, whose quirky spinster in "Something" plays like 1977's "Annie Hall," two decades later -- still the urban single spending weekends in the Hamptons. Although the movie often reduces her twilight romance with Jack Nicholson to sitcom cutesiness, Keaton has never seemed more vibrant or versatile, equally adept at comically off-kilter line readings and moments of genuine heartbreak.

    "If there's anyone who could serve as a spoiler, it's probably (Keaton)," Johnston says. "I think that the average age of the Academy skews older, so the likelihood of females members being able to identify with her character is pretty high. She's a well-liked person with a lot of friends in the industry, and she's been around forever."

    Musto says the nomination is the award for Watts and Morton, but in a strong year for lead actresses ("They could have easily had 10 names in there," he says), this year's nominees should feel fortunate for getting a slot. At the very least, the acknowledgement sets the stage for future events, confirming their reputation as serious actresses who are unafraid to expose vulnerability onscreen.

    "Naomi Watts has yet to be seen," Beach says. "I think we're only tapping the surface of what she's capable of doing. I'm thrilled she got this nomination, but this is only the beginning. She will win an Academy Award; it's just a question of when."

    Will win: Charlize Theron, "Monster"
    Should win: Keisha Castle-Hughes, "Whale Rider"

    Best supporting actor nominees:
    Alec Baldwin, "The Cooler"
    Benicio Del Toro, "21 Grams"
    Djimon Hounsou, "In America"
    Tim Robbins, "Mystic River"
    Ken Watanabe, "The Last Samurai"

    Arguably the emotional linchpin of "River," Robbins plays a wounded man whose traumatic past constantly informs the present, to the point where he becomes the suspect in the murder of an old friend's daughter. Still haunted by a kidnapping that subjected him to physical and sexual abuse, Robbins' character walks and talks with the uncertain rhythms of an adolescent whose grown-up body far outpaces his regressive mind. Shrewdly cast against type, Robbins' towering height makes him seem all the more gawky and uncomfortable in his own skin. For better or worse, his performance is a reminder that the child is the father of the man.

    With his imposing stature and political outspokenness, Robbins has been visible for so long that it's easy to forget that his only previous nomination came for directing 1995's "Dead Man Walking." As Musto notes: "At the Oscars, he's had to just sit there with Susan (Sarandon) as she's nominated year after year. But this looks like his moment."

    "He will be the crowd-pleasing favorite," Beach says. "For years, he's been a wonderful journeyman actor. He's proven that he can be a leading man and a character man, but he hasn't always gotten the recognition he deserves."

    Although most agree that it's Robbins' award to lose, it's perhaps the sign of a soft year that more mention has been made of those who did not get nominated than those who did. As former New Republic editor in chief Charles Lane, who weathered the downfall of serial fabricator Stephen Glass, Peter Sarsgaard's performance in Lions Gate's "Shattered Glass" was as good as any in 2003, a model of quiet intensity and restraint. In a film that aimed to be the next "All the President's Men" (1976), Sarsgaard masters the leveling stare of a seasoned journalist, bottling his emotions as he combs patiently through a thin web of lies.

    "I was very upset that (Sarsgaard) wasn't nominated," Musto says. "I thought he was brilliant. But that movie was not a hit, so it couldn't build up much momentum. It was a hit among journalists, but we're basically the only ones who care about the world of editorial practices in magazines."

    Notes Johnston: "The most glaring omission for me is Sean Astin for (New Line's 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King'). He's been great in all three movies, but his character arc really paid off in the last one. All the acting in the trilogy has been uniformly fine, but his is a really strong and moving performance that hit a lot of notes."

    But left with Hounsou (Beach: "He's still got a ways to go before he comes into his own"), Baldwin (Johnston: "I don't think he was doing anything in 'The Cooler' that he hasn't done better in other movies"), past winner Del Toro and self-effacing newcomer Watanabe, any alternatives to Robbins are strictly a matter of idle speculation.

    Will win: Tim Robbins, "Mystic River"
    Should win: Robbins

    Best supporting actress nominees:
    Shohreh Aghdashloo, "House of Sand and Fog"
    Patricia Clarkson, "Pieces of April"
    Marcia Gay Harden, "Mystic River"
    Holly Hunter, "thirteen"
    Renee Zellweger, "Cold Mountain"

    Heading into Oscar season, no film had a more promising pedigree than "Mountain." Based on the rare best seller to find equal embrace in critical circles and led by a director (Anthony Minghella, 1996's "The English Patient") and a cast with several statuettes on their mantelpieces, it was groomed for accolades it never quite garnered. Paradoxically, the film's disappointing returns could benefit Zellweger, whose rip-snorting turn as a guileless Southern farmhand stands in sharp relief to the turgid epic surrounding it. No matter if it's a truly great performance or "Annie Get Your Gun" revisited, Zellweger's exuberance will be hard for Academy voters to deny.

    "I thought she was very entertaining and very spunky, if a little one-note," Musto says. "It was not your typical, well-rounded Oscar performance; there wasn't a lot of growth and transformation in her character. But if she does win -- and it looks like she's going to -- it's mainly because she didn't win last year (for "Chicago"). The Oscars are this constant domino cycle of making up for the last year's oversight."

    Last year's oversight also kept Clarkson -- a critical darling for her delectably catty performance in "Far From Heaven" -- from collecting a nomination, but this year, she had the luxury of campaigning for both "The Station Agent" and "April." Musto and Johnston believe she picked the wrong horse in "April," a sentimental comedy both disliked, but Beach says Clarkson merits attention however she gets it.

    "I think for her body of work, she should be lauded and praised to the skies," Beach says. "I appreciate her as an actress so much for taking these smaller parts. She adds so much class and so much presence and so much talent to every single thing she does."

    Citing Hunter and Harden as classic examples of the wisdom that "once you've won, it's easier to get nominated again but harder to win," Johnston sees a potential upset bid for Aghdashloo. Certainly, none of the other contenders can lay claim to a performance as personal and lived-in as Aghdashloo's, and DreamWorks has lobbied shrewdly for the film, screening it endlessly for guild and Academy members well before the screener ban ended.

    "It's the kind of performance that sneaks in and wins sometimes," Johnston says. And in a year in which the acting field is notable foremost for its diversity, a win for Aghdashloo could prove a fitting capper.

    Will win: Renee Zellweger, "Cold Mountain"
    Should win: Shohreh Aghdashloo, "House of Sand and Fog"

    Check out this Thread from Other Sports, the posters there have a very good thread going about betting on this years Academy Awards.

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