Oscar cliffhanger: Which other categories will point way to Best Picture winner?

While 19 of our 27 Experts are predicting that “The Revenant” is going to win Best Picture, four of them favor “The Big Short” and another four say “Spotlight.” Our seven Editors are lined up behind “The Revenant.” While half of our Top 24 Users (those readers who did the best predicting last year’s winners) say “The Revenant, eight of them are predicting “Spotlight” and four are for “The Big Short.” And among our All-Stars (those two dozen readers who scored the best for the last two years combined), the split is 14 for “The Revenant,”  eight for “Spotlight” and two for “The Big Short.” 

Though we will have to wait till the end of the three-hour plus kudocast to find out which of these predicitors are right, there will be several signs along the way of the relative strength and weakness of the three frontrunners. 

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We are forecasting that “The Revenant” will win three awards for certain: Director (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu), Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Cinematography. 

“Spotlight” is expected to win one race handily: Original Screenplay.

And we expect “The Big Short” to take one award as well before the big one is handed out: Adapted Screenplay

Another of the Best Picture nominees, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” is forecast to take six awards: Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup & Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.

Compare Oscar odds: Experts vs. Editors vs. Top 24 Users vs. All Users

However, if “The Revenant” can stop the “Mad Max” juggernaut in one or more of those below-the-line races, that would reveal a greater depth and breadth to its support than we thought. For example, the two sound races are competitive. If “The Revenant” adds those Oscars to its early haul and/or pulls off a surprise win in Visual Effects over “Star Wars,” then a Best Picture win is looking even more certain. 

Will it face “Spotlight” or “The Big Short” in a showdown for Best Picture? Which of those two contenders will garner enough votes to make it to the final two? 

If “The Big Short” takes Film Editing over frontrunner “Mad Max: Fury Road,” that could mean that it was ranked higher than “Spotlight” on the Best Picture preferential ballots. 

Likewise, if “Spotlight” featured player Mark Ruffalo pulls off an upset over frontrunner Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”) for Supporting Actor, that may signal stronger support for the film than we thought. 

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What do you think will win Best Picture this year? 

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“The Revenant” (Fox); “The Big Short” (Paramount); “Spotlight” (Open Road)

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