The Oscar race for Best Picture is one of the most hotly contested races of the year, with at least three movies having a legitimate shot of winning.
Unlike many years, the award for Best Picture is still up in the air. There hasn't been one movie that has collected all the precursor trophies, like The Artist or Argo in years past, giving Oscar pundits a lot to talk about leading up to the ceremony.
While the race has been mostly narrowed down to three movies, let's break down the eight nominees for Best Picture from least to most likely to win the big prize.
Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis Lacey, an Irish immigrant hoping to start a new life in America in the movie Brooklyn. The movie is entirely centered on her building a life for herself and becoming a free-thinking woman torn between her old home and her new one. However, Brooklyn only has two other nominations, for Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, which suggests that there simply isn't enough broad support among all the members of the Academy for it to win Best Picture.
7. Bridge of Spies
Bridge of Spies tells the true story of New York lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks), who is asked to defend Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) and then make an exchange for two Americans during the Cold War. The chilly drama is a classic example of sophisticated, dependable, awards-friendly fare, and it scored five other nominations. But the movie has yet to win anything major, other than a few awards for Rylance. Plus, director Steven Spielberg isn't nominated, so you can probably count it out.
6. The Martian
The Martian is the highest-grossing movie nominated this year and centers on Mark Watney (Matt Damon), an astronaut who is stranded on Mars. The film notably won Best Picture (Comedy or Musical) and Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes, prompting many jokes about the film not really being a comedy. The Martian received seven Oscar nominations, but none for director Ridley Scott--a telling sign that the Academy may not have loved the film enough to give it Best Picture.
Room is this year's little indie drama that could, and is expected to win at least one Oscar. The movie stars Brie Larson as Joy Newsome, a woman being held captive in a shed for several years with her young son (played by Jacob Tremblay). Larson has been cleaning up at all the award shows in the Best Actress category, and will likely win the Oscar. What boosts Room's chances, though, is the surprise Best Director nomination for Lenny Abrahamson, which very few pundits were expecting. With four nominations total, it seems unlikely that the film could win the big prize, but there is a slight chance.
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
This year's overwhelming critical darling is Mad Max: Fury Road, a high-octane action thriller that just so happens to be the fourth film in a franchise from the '80s. Charlize Theron stars as Imperator Furiosa, a woman in a post-apocalyptic world who escapes from a tyrant dictator with the help of "Mad" Max (Tom Hardy). The film received 10 Oscar nominations, with broad support among almost every branch. It has received an enormous amount of critic prizes, but has yet to score any Best Picture wins among major/industry awards. While Mad Max has many supporters, it's possible that there will just be too many dissenters who don't get it.
Much like Mad Max, Spotlight was a major critics darling this year. The film, which centers on the Boston Globe reporters who broke the story about the rampant molestation and protection of guilty priests in the Catholic Church, wound up winning Best Picture at the Critics' Choice Awards and took home the SAG Award for Best Ensemble. Despite near universal praise from critics and six Oscar nominations, Spotlight may just be too muted and understated to pull off a win here, though. It's tough to find people who hate the movie, which will help with the preferential ballot used for this category, but will it have enough no. 1 support to carry it through to the finish line?
2. The Revenant
The Revenant is going into this year's Oscars with the most nominations of any movie, at 12. The harrowing drama is also one of the biggest box office hits of these nominees, and has Oscar frontrunner Leonardo DiCaprio at the helm. Numerous Oscar pundits are predicting it to win Best Picture--so why is it no. 2 here? Well, it's possible that the subject matter and the film's divisive nature will be its downfall. The Revenant is a brutal film about a frontiersman seeking revenge on the men who left him behind after being injured, and while many have hailed it as a masterpiece, others just don't see what the big deal is. The film may come in with the most no. 1 votes, but the preferential ballot suggests it will be the no. 2 and 3 votes that count in a close race like this. There is a very good shot that it will win here, but there's one movie that has an even better shot.
1. The Big Short
The Big Short chronicles the housing market crash of the late 2000s, and it's our prediction for the film that will win Best Picture. The film has an all star cast that includes Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell and Brad Pitt and presents the complicated subject matter of subprime loans in a fresh, entertaining way. So why will it beat The Revenant in the end? One statistic is very important to remember: it won the Producers Guild Award. The PGA is the only other major industry awards group that uses a preferential ballot to decide their top prize, and has correctly predicted the eventual Oscar winner every single year since 2007. This, combined with the important subject matter told in an interesting way, is why The Big Short will probably win Best Picture.
The Oscars air live at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT on ABC.