How to Fake Your Way Through Predicting the 2016 Oscars' Best Picture Race

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This year’s Best Picture race is a bit of a toss-up.

While other Oscar categories are sure things -- Leonardo DiCaprio will win Best Actor, finally -- the question of which film will take the night’s top honor is still in debate. Maybe you’ve seen all of the nominated movies and have made up your mind.

WATCH: Find Out Who Got Nominated for What at the 2016 Oscars

But if you don’t have time to watch all eight -- especially since some clock in at over two and a half hours (looking at you,The Revenant) -- here is a handy cheat sheet that will tell you everything you need to know about the Best Picture race.

The Big Short

Paramount Pictures

What It’s About: The U.S. housing market. Seriously. It’s about the businessmen (Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carell, among others) who get rich off the financial crisis of 2007–2008. There’s also a Selena Gomez cameo.

What It Will Win: If anything, Charles Randolph and Adam McKay will win Adapted Screenplay. McKay is a long shot for Best Director, and Bale does not stand a chance in the Supporting Actor category against Sylvester Stallone (Creed).

Was It Snubbed for Anything? No.

Talking Points:

“Did you know this was directed by the same guy who did Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby?!”

“Any movie that can make financial stuff interesting deserves some award.”

Bridge of Spies

Walt Disney Studios

What It’s About: If you couldn’t tell from the poster, it’s a period piece. The 1950s, specifically. Tom Hanks plays an insurance lawyer who is asked to defend a Soviet spy in court. Then things get complicated.

What It Will Win: Likely, nothing. Original score will probably go to The Hateful Eight, while The Revenant will take most of the technical awards. Supporting actor Mark Rylance won’t be able to beat Stallone either.

Was It Snubbed for Anything? Some were surprised that Steven Spielberg was not nominated for Best Director or Hanks for Best Actor, but both were stacked groups this year.

Talking Points:

“My dad loves that movie.”


Fox Searchlight Pictures

What It’s About: A coming-of-age story about a young woman from Ireland (Saoirse Ronan) who finds love and a new life in, you guessed it, Brooklyn, New York.

What It Will Win: Nothing. Both Ronan, nominated for Best Actress, and Nick Hornby, for Adapted Screenplay, make great alternates, but it’s a tough year.

Was It Snubbed for Anything? Perhaps in costuming and production design.

Talking Points:

“It’s pronounced Sur-sha, like inertia.”

WATCH: Here’s How All the Stars Responded to Their Oscar Nominations!

Mad Max: Fury Road

Warner Bros. Pictures

What It’s About: Where to even begin with this one? It’s about Max (Tom Hardy), a survivor in some dystopian wasteland, as he begrudgingly helps Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) lead the tyrannical Immortan Joe’s wives to safety in some far-off promised land. Maybe just see it for yourself.

What It Will Win: George Miller is the dark horse for Best Director, and one could say the same about John Seale in the Cinematography category. It won’t go home empty-handed though, as it will surely collect some technical awards -- Sound Mixing? Sound Editing? Makeup and Hairstyling? Sure!

Was It Snubbed for Anything? True Fury Road fans will say it was snubbed in every category it wasn’t nominated in. The consensus is that Theron could have been nominated for Best Actress.

Talking Points:

“There was too much debate about the feminism of the movie. It was feminist because Miller let Charlize Theron’s character be a kick ass action hero. Why wouldn’t we want a movie with Charlize Theron as a kick ass hero? More feminist movies, please!”

“Yo, that guy who played the flame-throwing guitar was awesome.”

The Martian


What It’s About: Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is left for dead on Mars when the rest of his crew is forced to abort their mission. It turns out, he actually survived and must try and stay alive until NASA can get someone back to rescue him.

What It Will Win: Drew Goddard has a strong, strong chance at nabbing Adapted Screenplay. Any other year, Damon would probably be a frontrunner -- unfortunately, this is DiCaprio’s year. Perhaps it’ll take home Visual Effects, though?

Was It Snubbed for Anything? Jessica Chastain could have been landed a Supporting Actress nod, had half the nominations not gone to lead actresses (Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander). Ridley Scott should have earned one for Best Director.

Talking Points:

“Another movie where Matt Damon needs to be rescued?! First it was Saving Private Ryan. Then it was Interstellar. How many times are we just going to forget Matt Damon somewhere?”

“Which did you like better, The Martian or Interstellar?” (And then study up on this post to understand why you enjoyed The Martian more.)

The Revenant


What It’s About: A fur trapper is attacked by a grizzly bear, abandoned by his men, and left for dead. Then, it’s basically just Leonardo DiCaprio tracking down Tom Hardy to seek revenge.

What It Will Win: As previously mentioned, DiCaprio will win Best Actor. Alejandro G. Iñárritu will likely win Best Director for the second year in a row. Cinematography is pretty much a lock too, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see costuming and makeup wins, among others.

Was It Snubbed for Anything? What could it have been snubbed for? It was nominated for everything! Tom Hardy was reverse-snubbed, as no one expected him to make the Supporting Actor race.

Talking Points:

“If Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t win the Oscar for getting attacked by that bear, eating raw bison liver, almost getting hypothermia in a river, and growing that beard, then WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM HIM, ACADEMY?”

“He wasn’t actually raped by a bear though.”

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A24 Films

What It’s About: A young woman is kidnapped and held captive in a shed, where she gives birth and raises her son. When he turns five, she decides it’s time they escape back to the real world.

What It Will Win: Brie Larson will win Best Actress. Emma Donoghue has a shot at Adapted Screenplay, while Lenny Abrahamson should be honored just to be nominated for Best Director. (Which isn’t to say he didn’t deserve it.)

Was It Snubbed for Anything? It’s a pity that Jacob Tremblay was not nominated for Supporting Actor. His performance isn’t just impressive for a child actor -- he’s 9-years-old -- but any actor.

Talking Points:

“I have never cried more in a movie in my entire life.”

“Did you know the kid in that movie has a hot dad?”


Open Road Films

What It’s About: A team of Boston Globe reporters investigate the Roman Catholic Church’s repeated cover-ups of priests sexually abusing children. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s based on true events and was an appropriately huge news story at the time.

What It Will Win: Original Screenplay for Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy. The latter may also be a runner-up for Best Director, while the supporting acting nominees -- Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo -- are reaches.

Was It Snubbed for Anything? No.

Talking Points:

“I wish Rachel McAdams were in more movies.”

Don't miss ET’s live Academy Awards pre-show on Pop this Sunday, Feb. 28., starting at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT. Go to to find out where to watch.