Film News

Oscars 2016: Do We Finally Have a Front-Runner for Best Picture?

How do you predict which movie is going to win Best Picture at the Oscars? Throw a dart on the wall? Pick the one that sounds the most Oscar Bait-y (did that sound dirty?)? Always back the one produced by Harvey Weinstein? Just read what all of the experts say and use that in whatever Oscar betting pool you’re involved in?

No, silly. Well, actually, yeah on that last one, but if you are genuinely curious about all of this then you should look at the other awards which pre-date the Oscars, specifically the ones everyone seems to think are the most predictive of future Oscar glory. This year, though, has been the most unpredictable Best Picture race in Oscar history.

That’s right. I said “in Oscar history.” I’m going all the way back to 1927 here. We’re talking pre-WWII, people. Do I actually know that to be true? Oh, God no. There were probably crazier Oscar years, but it sure sounds better if I make this out to be the most unpredictable race of all time. It’s at least the most unpredictable race in recent memory.

Or is it? Here are the Best Picture winners of all the predictive pre-Oscar awards, listed in chronological order.

National Board of Review (Predicted Best Picture Winner 2 out of 8 Last Years)

Mad Max: Fury Road

New York Film Critics Circle (Predicted Best Picture Winner 2 out of 8 Last Years)

Carol (not even nominated by the Academy)

Golden Globes (Predicted Best Picture Winner 4 out of 8 Last Years)

The Revenant (Drama)

The Martian (Comedy)

Critic’s Choice Awards (Predicted Best Picture Winner 6 out of last 8 Years)


Producers Guild of America (Predicted Best Picture Winner For 8 Straight Years)

The Big Short

Screen Actors Guild of America (Predicted Best Picture Winner 5 out of last 8 Years)


American Cinema Editors (Predicted Best Picture Winner 5 out of last 8 Years)

Mad Max: Fury Road (Drama)

The Big Short (Comedy)

Directors Guild of America (Predicted Best Picture Winner 7 out of last 8 Years)

The Revenant

Writers Guild of America (Predicted Best Picture Winner 4 out of last 8 Years)

Spotlight (Original Screenplay)

The Big Short (Adapted Screenplay)

Based upon the number of wins as well as wins from agencies who actually think alike with the Academy, we have a three-movie race between Spotlight, The Big Short and The Revenant.  If Spotlight wins it will go against recent trends with the Producers and Directors Guilds, but if it loses it will go against recent history with the Critics Choice Awards. After Spotlight‘s Writers Guild win tonight I really thought that meant it should be considered the Best Picture Front Runner, seeing as how both the actors and writers branches loved it. However, the writers also loved The Big Short.

So, um, most unpredictable race in Oscars history! Watch Brooklyn win now.


  1. I would really love if Mad Max: Fury Road won, but it doesn’t fall into the Oscar territory. I’m more interested in how the nominee pools will change or stay the same now that the new rules for voting privileges will go into effect after this year.

    1. There is a very sight possibility that Revenant, Big Short and Spotlight could somehow split the vote between them and open things up for maybe a surprise win for Mad Max/Martian (snubbing Ridley Scott for a director nod could cause voters to rally behind it ala Argo) or even movies which a small portion of the Academy is passionate about, like Room and Brooklyn. However, there is an increasingly weird element to this year’s show where a black host and an overwhelmingly diverse (plenty of people of color and women) group of presenters will ultimately be on hand to give out awards to a bunch of white people, be they writers, actors, directors or producers behind Best Picture nominees. It’s easy to simply look further down the road and contemplate how the rule changes will impact next year’s Oscars, especially with Nate Parker’s big Sundance movie Birth of a Nation apparently delivering the goods.

    1. After its BAFTA wins, The Revenant is considered the front-runner although the race still comes down to three: Revenant, Big Short, Spotlight. I am predicting a Big Short Best Picture win because it also has the momentum from other awards wins, and the economy just happened to tank while the Oscar nominations were being submitted thus lending The Big Short the feel of political importance. When the race is so close between three movies, that could be enough to push Big Short over the top.

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