This year’s Oscar-nominated films brought a wide collection of stories to audiences, from personal narratives of parents and children, sweeping revenge tales, forbidden romances, and much more. Entertainment Weekly gathered 20 of the writers, directors, and stars behind many of those 2016 nominated films to take a close look at their year in film.

From the most-nominated films The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road, directors Alejandro G. Iñárritu and George Miller, as well as Revenant star Leonardo DiCaprio, detail the exciting and crazy challenges behind their respective films.

Other nominees, including The Danish Girl leads Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, The Martian star Matt Damon, Joy actress Jennifer Lawrence, Room breakouts Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, and Lenny Abrahamson, and several others recount what it meant to bring their stories and characters to life. For some, like The Big Short director and co-writer Adam McKay, that meant basing characters on real-life figures; for others, such as Carol nominees Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, it tasked them with breathing life into existing stories with their own dramatic choices.

Watch the exclusive video above to see the creative minds behind this year’s biggest Oscar contenders tell their stories, and for more from each of them, check out EW’s full slate of PrizeFighter videos from the 2016 Oscars.

For more on this year’s awards, check out the full list of nominees, as well as the five big stories that will dominate the conversation leading up to the ceremony on Feb. 28. EW’s Oscars issue hits newsstands on Jan. 22

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