21 Movies To See Before Oscar Night To Be In The Loop

Oscar night, otherwise known as Feb. 28, 2016, is fast approaching, with only a few months to go before the golden statues are handed out to Hollywood's best (or most beloved, or best campaigned for) films. The 88th Academy Awards are so close, in fact, that we are now officially in the thick of Oscar season, that time of year when all the major movies hoping to win big are released in theaters. However, as evidenced by the recent Golden Globe nominations and Critics' Choice Award nominations for non-traditional fare like Trainwreck and Mad Max: Fury Road, it might be hard to predict which movies exactly will earn nods. To help prepare you for whatever names they call at the Academy Awards, here are all the movies to see before Oscar night.

It's not often that Oscar nominations surprise moviegoers. If anything, the Academy is known for nominating the same types over and over again, sometimes without rhyme or reason. However, there are always some instances in which the Oscars differentiate themselves from the Globes or the Critics' Choice Awards. For example, just last year the Academy failed to recognize Ava DuVernay and Selma , and two years ago they snubbed Ben Affleck by not giving him a Best Director nod for Argo, which many considered a huge upset. Taking all the possible upsets and surprises into consideration, these 21 movies should have you pretty well covered on Oscar night.

1. Carol

Giphy

Carol is just reaping nominations left and right at this point. Nominated for five Golden Globes and nine Critics' Choice Awards, it's very likely the film will be one of the top contenders come Oscar night.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Actress for Cate Blanchett, Best Supporting Actress for Rooney Mara, Best Picture

Other Possible Nominations: Best Director for Todd Haynes, Best Original Score, Best Art Direction or Best Costume Design

2. The Revenant

Giphy

The Revenant has yet to be released, but it's pretty much guaranteed to be nominated for a handful of Academy Awards. This is in part due to director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who is fresh off his 2015 Oscar win for Birdman. The subject matter may be bleak and critics are divided, but there's nothing the Academy likes more than repeat royalty (and perhaps even star Leonardo DiCaprio).

Most Likely Nominations: Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, Best Director for Alejandro González Iñárritu, Best Cinematography, Best Picture

Other Possible Nominations: Best Original Score, Best Editing

Long Shot Nominations: Best Supporting Actor for Tom Hardy

3. The Big Short

Like The Revenant, The Big Short has yet to be released widely in theaters, but the buzz for the film has been steadily increasing as the release date approaches. The Big Short is said to break a lot of traditional Hollywood rules — like breaking the fourth wall — so it could be the perfect dark horse for the Academy.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay

Other Possible Nominations: Best Actor for Christian Bale, Best Editing, Best Picture

Long Shot Nominations: Best Director for Adam McKay, Best Actor for Steve Carell

4. The Danish Girl

Giphy

If the Danish Girl buzz is to be believed, Tom Hooper's timely drama is almost guaranteed to receive nominations for stars Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Actor for Eddie Redmayne, Best Supporting Actress for Alicia Vikander

Other Possible Nominations: Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Hair & Makeup, Best Picture

Long Shot Nominations: Best Director for Tom Hooper

5. Room

Giphy

Brie Larson had basically won the Best Actress Oscar until Carol and Brooklyn burst onto the scene. Whether she'll take home the prize remains to be seen, but it's a safe bet that Larson and Room will be present come Oscar night.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Actress for Brie Larson, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture

Other Possible Nominations: Best Supporting Actor for Jacob Tremblay

Long Shot Nominations: Best Supporting Actress for Joan Allen, Best Director for Lenny Abrahamson, Best Editing, Best Cinematography

6. Spotlight

Despite Spotlight receiving no acting nominations from the Golden Globes, it is nominated for Best Drama, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. Expect repeat nods from the Academy, and a lot of discussion when/if Mark Ruffalo gets snubbed for Best Supporting Actor.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Director for Tom McCarthy, Best Screenplay, Best Picture

Other Possible Nominations: Best Editing, Best Score

Long Shot Nominations: Best Supporting Actor for Mark Ruffalo, Best Supporting Actress for Rachel McAdams

7. Creed

Giphy

Creed has not had a good awards season, with snubs from the Golden Globes and the Critics' Choice, but the Oscars could turn all that around. Depending on how many Best Picture nominees the Academy allows this year, Creed could be considered as one of the best of the year by the Oscars, even if it doesn't get any other nods.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Supporting Actor for Sylvester Stallone

Other Possible Nominations: Best Cinematography, Best Picture

Long Shot Nominations: Best Director for Ryan Coogler, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor for Michael B. Jordan

8. The Martian

Giphy

The Martian is tricky. Nominated for a Golden Globe in the Comedy category, The Martian could have trouble fitting into the Academy's more dramatic-leaning sensibilities. That said, Ridley Scott's film was insanely popular among critics and audiences alike, so it's sure to have some major presence at the Oscars.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Picture

Other Possible Nominations: Best Director for Ridley Scott

Long Shot Nominations: Best Cinematography, Best Actor for Matt Damon

9. Steve Jobs

Giphy

Audiences may not have flocked to Steve Jobs the way Hollywood might have hoped, but that doesn't change the fact that it is an exceptionally well-made film with great performances. It wouldn't be surprising to hear Michael Fassbender's name called when the Oscar nominations are announced.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay

Other Possible Nominations: Best Actor for Michael Fassbender, Best Supporting Actress for Kate Winslet

Long Shot Nominations: Best Director for Danny Boyle, Best Supporting Actor for Seth Rogen, Best Picture

10. Brooklyn

Giphy

Brooklyn is the kind of movie the Academy loves — a period piece and coming of age story with just a hint of romance. If this were any other year, I'd say Brooklyn had a good chance of grabbing nominations left and right. As it stands now, Saoirse Ronan is poised to be in the running for Best Actress.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Actress for Saoirse Ronan

Other Possible Nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Picture

Long Shot Nominations: Best Supporting Actress for Julie Walters

11. Grandma

Giphy

Lily Tomlin's performance is only gaining steam as the Academy Awards approach. With a nomination for a Golden Globe and a Critics' Choice Award, Grandma should not be overlooked this season.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Actress for Lily Tomlin

12. Inside Out

Giphy

Pixar's hit is sure to take home the Academy Award for Best Animated Film, and might just get a nod for Best Picture.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Animated Film

Other Possible Nominations: Best Original Screenplay

Long Shot Nominations: Best Picture

13. The Hateful Eight

Giphy

Quentin Tarantino's newest film is sure to intrigue Academy voters, and has already been recognized with three Golden Globe nominations.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Jason Leigh, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score

Other Possible Nominations: Best Cinematography, Best Production Design

Long Shot Nominations: Best Director for Quentin Tarantino, Best Picture

14. Joy

Giphy

It is a widely accepted fact that actress Jennifer Lawrence is going to receive her fourth Oscar nom for Joy. However, with less than enthusiastic reviews, it seems director David O. Russell might have lost his charm to academy viewers.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Actress for Jennifer Lawrence

Other Possible Nominations: Best Original Screenplay

Long Shot Nominations: Best Director for David O. Russell, Best Picture

15. Bridge Of Spies

Giphy

Steven Spielberg's drama starring Tom Hanks will certainly pick up a few Oscar nominations this year. However, with it's earlier release date and lack of momentum going into awards season, I wouldn't count on Bridge of Spies to take any of those golden statues home.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Supporting Actor for Mark Rylance

Other Possible Nominations: Best Production Design

Long Shot Nominations: Best Director for Steven Spielberg, Best Picture

16. Concussion

Concussion doesn't come out until Christmas — which could either mean it's a prime Oscar bait film or a family drama that will be big at the box office, but not come Oscar night. There hasn't been a lot of buzz for Concussion, save for leading actor Will Smith.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Actor for Will Smith

17. Sicario

Giphy

When Sicario was first released, many thought that Emily Blunt would be a strong contender for Best Actress, but her buzz has decreased significantly in the wake of the release of Carol and Brooklyn. Still, Sicario will more than likely nab at least one nomination from the Academy.

Most Likely Nominations: Best Cinematography

Other Possible Nominations: Best Score

Long Shot Nominations: Emily Blunt for Best Actress, Benicio del Toro for Best Supporting Actor

18. Mad Max: Fury Road

Giphy

Mad Max: Fury Road has recently emerged as an awards surprise, with several nominations from the Golden Globes and the Critics' Choice Awards.

Most Likely Nomination: Best Production Design, Best Cinematography

Other Possible Nominations: Best Editing, Best Visual Effects, Best Director for George Miller

Long Shot Nominations: Best Picture

19. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Giphy

Even if you don't think Star Wars will be getting any love come Oscar night, it's probably worth seeing just so you can understand half the jokes in Chris Rock's monologue. (If you are interested in watching movies to understand the jokes made at their expense, I also suggest watching Fifty Shades of Grey.)

Most Likely Nominations: Best Visual Effects

Other Possible Nominations: Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Makeup

Long Shot Nominations: Best Picture

20. Trainwreck

Giphy

While it might seem pretty unlikely that Academy members will choose to honor Trainwreck, it could happen. Trainwreck would be a perfect surprise nominee for Best Original Screenplay, written by Amy Schumer. Not only would it win the Academy some points in terms of gender diversity, but it would also attract younger viewers who often feel left out of the Oscar conversation.

21. Straight Outta Compton

Giphy

It's true that Straight Outta Compton failed to get any Golden Globe nominations and was only nominated for one Critics' Choice Award (for Best Acting Ensemble), but the movie was the talk of the town after its summer release, earning a healthy amount of early awards show buzz. If the Academy Awards follows in the footsteps of the Globes and leave it out of the running, it's likely many fans will call foul, making it a good movie to see if you love debating Oscar snubs.

Of course, there are plenty of other films that are likely to be nominated on Jan. 14, when the official Oscar nominations will be announced. Paul Dano is a strong contender for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Love & Mercy, as are Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation and Michael Shannon for 99 Homes. Johnny Depp could still pull through with a Best Actor nod for Black Mass, and Crimson Peak will almost certainly receive nominations for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design. So, yeah, you're gonna want to go to the movies — stat.

Images: Open Road Films; Giphy (18); baledaily/tumblr; pawntakesqueen/tumblr; yahooentertainment/tumblr