Chiwatel Ejiofor and Emma Thompson to fly flag at Oscars

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British pair Chiwatel Ejiofor and Emma Thomspon are leading the charge for UK glory at the forthcoming Academy Awards.

Thompson has tasted Oscar glory twice before, picking up the Best Actress gong for Howard’s End in 1992 and the Best Screenplay award for Sense and Sensibility in 1995, and is fancied to make it a hat-trick for her turn as PL Traverse in Saving Mr Banks.

Cate Blanchett is the strong favourite at 1/4 for her part in the Woody Allen “return to form” Blue Jasmine, while Sandra Bullock is fancied at 6/1 to add to her The Blind Side win with her portrayal of Ryan Stone in Gravity.

However, those fancying the Best Actress prize to head back across the Atlantic for the first time since 2008 – when Kate Winslet picked up the gong for The Reader – can get a tempting 10/1 on Thompson to add to her already-bulging trophy cabinet.

However, while Thompson is seen as something of an outside chance, Ejiofor – a relative unknown when the pair starred together in 2003 RomCom Love Actually – is seen as a dead cert to land the Best Actor award.

Director Steve McQueen gave the London-born star his biggest role to date as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave – the tale of a free black man from upstate New York who is abducted and sold into slavery – and looks to have been rewarded for his decision.

Ejiofor has steadily been making a name for himself in the industry over the last few years, starring in highly-rated films like Children of Men, American Gangster and Inside Man but until now is still perhaps best known for his part in Richard Curtis’ ensemble comedy.

All that looks set to change, however, with the 36-year-old now 6/4 favourite to get the nod ahead of veteran actor Robert Redford, who is priced at 9/4.

Favouritism for Ejiofor comes hot on the heels of industry chat that fellow Londoner Idris Elba (14/1) is a strong contender for the top male prize.

The 41-year-old, who rose to prominence as Stringer Bell in highly-acclaimed TV drama The Wire, is now a huge box office draw with films including Thor, Pacific Rim and Prometheus under his belt.

Many fancy the Luther actor to replace fellow Brit Daniel Craig as James Bond in the coming years, so the nomination for his turn as Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom may be his best chance at Oscar glory with blockbuster business beckoning.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.