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“The Big Short” vs “The Revenant” vs “Spotlight” in the race for Best Picture

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As we get down to the final days until the Academy Awards, it’s obviously still worth focusing in on a few of the races that might still be up in the air, concluding now with the biggest one. Yes, the competition for Best Picture. Depending on how generous you’re feeling at a given moment, this is a three horse race, obviously coming down to either The Big Short, The Revenant, or Spotlight. Below I’ll be discussing the candidacies of all three, as we try to nail down just what is going to happen with Picture on Sunday (yes, we can safely count out Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, and Room from actual contention). Join me now, why don’t you?

the big short Steve Carel Ryan GosslingThe case for The Big Short really centers on preferential balloting. That’s where Adam McKay’s film has a chance to pull the upset. The Producers Guild win shows that much, at least. PGA votes the way Oscar does, so fans of this one can hold out hope in that regard. It’s also a more traditional winner in a way, taking on the issues of our time. Is it a bit more of a comedy than usually wins? Sure, but so was Birdman last year, so it does happen. If you want to look out for a Picture win here, you have to see The Big Short win in Best Film Editing (I don’t think it benefits enough if Mad Max: Fury Road takes it). Anything short of that could be too little, too late. It has a chance, but it’s a small one, honestly. McKay, along with Charles Randolph, will win in Best Adapted Screenplay, so the film won’t go home empty handed.

The Revenant Leo DiCaprioThe Revenant easily makes the strongest case for Picture, without question. It’s the frontrunner, that much is undeniable. The win from the Directors Guild sets Alejandro G Iñárritu up to win Best Director here, which is clearly a big boon. This one also has BAFTA as well as a Golden Globe in its pocket, making for a combination that is historically hard to beat. The one pause for this one as a lock to win is that it hasn’t won in a preferential balloting system, but I don’t know how much of a sway that will hold. We’ll see on Sunday, but if you’re just looking at the numbers, as it were, this is The Revenant’s to lose, without question. If you’re a betting man or woman, bet on this movie to win.

spotlight michael keaton mark ruffaloFinally, the case for Spotlight is, frankly, a tough one to swallow. As much as it was the critical darling, the precursors haven’t followed along like that. Tom McCarthy’s flick does have the Screen Actors Guild win to fall back on, but I don’t think that branch is going to make a big enough difference. McCarthy and co-writer Josh Singer will have to represent the film when it wins Best Original Screenplay, since I think that’s all it’s going to wind up taking. Is it a bit of a shame? Sure, but that’s just the way that the cookie crumbles with Oscar. A few short weeks ago, Spotlight still could have won here, but it’s just coming up short as the race comes to a conclusion. A win here would be an absolutely shocking upset, and that just doesn’t happen much with the Academy. Alas.

There you have the rundown of what’s in contention for Picture this weekend. Essentially, this is down to either The Big Short or The Revenant, with the latter very much in the lead of the former. I just don’t see Spotlight pulling the upset out, plain and simple. The Big Short has an outside chance, especially if it can take Editing, but this does seem to be shaping up as a big night for The Revenant on Sunday evening. We’ll just have to sit tight and wait to see which movie winds up emerging victorious. The next couple of days are going to be something, aren’t they? Final predictions go up on Friday, so keep that in mind as well…

Stay tuned to see which film winds up taking Best Picture on Sunday at the Academy Awards!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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