There’s a special time in ‘Oscars season’. It comes after the standout pictures separate from the pack, but before the ceremony itself. It’s a time of conjecture, speculation and guesswork, and can often lead to wild predictions, like ‘The Counselor is going to win an Oscar’.

American HustleThese guys have messed about with the Oscars odds

This unique period of Academy lingo also leads to varied odds, as great films get pushed out – sometimes as far as 66-1 – as others triumph in the various Oscars precursor awards.

With such variant betting options, it’s a good time to slap a cheeky buck or two while brilliant options drift out to attractive prices. American Hustle’s recent win at the New York Critics Circle Awards pushed it closer towards the shortest odds, but, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction, and it saw some other contenders arrive at a more attractive price. Here’s where you should be putting your money and why.

All odds are correct at time of writing, and can be found here.

Best Picture

Currently, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity and American Hustle are favorites to win ‘the big one’. And the jump to fifth favorite – Captain Phillips – is a big one, from 4/1 for the recent New York winner by David O Russell, to 16/1 for Paul Greengrass’s hostage thriller. Inbetween them is another Hanks film, Saving Mr. Banks, but if a Hanks film is going to win, we can’t look past Captain Phillips, and 16/1 is an excellent price for such a strong choice.

Captain PhillipsHanks could be taking a few trips to the stage this year

You’ll hear anyone who’s seen it wax lyrical about ‘those last five minutes’, and it’s testament to Paul Greengrass that he made a story – which, bear in mind, everyone already knew the ending of – so unpredictable and exciting.

“This is both Hanks's and Greengrass's best and sturdiest work in a decade; a film that feels less written, acted and shot than smelted, fused and riveted,” said Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph.

Watch the Captain Phillips trailer here

For you extreme outside betters, you can’t look past Inside Llewyn Davis, which stands at a staggering 66/1 with some outlets. $10 on that might make for entertaining viewing come awards night, because, let’s face it, Ellen DeGeneres won’t be that good.

Next page: make some extra cash with the Best Actor category