Depending on who you talk to, when you talk to them, or maybe even where you are when you’re talking and the weather outside and the moon’s current stage… the frontrunner for this year’s Best Picture is one of three and maybe even four films. A new favorite has emerged, The Revenant. Make no mistake, The Revenant has been in the front of the pack for many many weeks now, despite the eye-rolling backlash directed at Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu and Co. for their relentless publicity campaign telling us how difficult the shoot was.
But then there was Spotlight, a film almost immediately anointed when it started slowly hitting cinemas last fall. And it still belongs there, it’s my personal favorite. And as the award nominations and ceremonies began rolling out, one of the darkest of horses in awards season history crept into the forefront, taking home noteworthy awards: Adam McKay’s The Big Short.
The Big Short, McKay’s visceral and constantly moving take on the housing crisis in the mid 2000s, is a powerful and energetic picture. And deeply unsettling when you think about it. The film grabbed five Oscar noms, including Best Picture and Director among others, and everyone began to take notice. Fast forward to the AFI Awards, where The Big Short took home Movie of The Year, and has continued to swipe a number of critics association awards this season. The Dark Horse grew into the favorite, albeit for a little while.
But it all comes back to The Revenant.
Despite what you may think about the film, all sizzle and little steak, a beautiful film lacking any true emotion, The Revenant led the field with 12 nominations. That’s a salty haul. And the publicity campaign, as relentless as it’s been, is working on those in charge of these awards. It’s the sort of prestige picture academy voters eat up. Meanwhile, here are two recent headline-fueled films in Spotlight and The Big Short, duking it out with one another. The similarities in those two will undoubtedly split votes, leaving The Revenant alone to rake in all the votes it would have gotten in the first place. Unless, of course, one man’s world of fire and blood can cut into those votes.
Yes, Mad Max: Fury Road has an outside chance at winning the big prize. George Miller has a great shot at director simple because Iñárritu won last year and only John Ford and Joseph Mankiewicz have pulled that off in the history of The Oscars. And that is what gives Fury Road an outside shot.
All that being said, expect The Revenant to collect four or five technical awards, a Best Actor statue, and walk away with Best Picture February 28.