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Hollywood Contenders – Is “Spotlight” really the one to beat in Best Picture?

spotlight michael keaton mark ruffalo
There isn’t a whole lot that pundits can agree up on in regards to the Oscar race right now, but one thing seems to be that Spotlight is the one to beat currently in Best Picture. Tom McCarthy’s film is in a great position right now, as you’ll see in my updated predictions this week (later on today, to be precise). If voting were to be held today, the movie would win Picture in a landslide, though obviously it’s still early goings. That being said, I think the more time passes this season, the more likely it is that this flick is going to become the inevitable winner.

The film is a dramatized look at the Boston Globe reporters who broke the story about the Catholic Church covering up the molestations committed by priests. At the paper, an investigative section called “Spotlight” begins looking into the rumors and uncovers a huge scandal. The plot mostly follows along as the small group does the nitty gritty work of gathering indisputable evidence for the story. McCarthy directs and co-writes with Josh Singer, while the cast is led by Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo, with the others in this top notch ensemble including Billy Crudup, Brian d’Arcy James, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, and more. Everyone is doing brilliant work here, trust me.

Full disclosure now ladies and gentlemen…Spotlight is my favorite movie of the year so far. It’s a perfectly crafted drama that will enrage, move, and thrill you. Seriously, it’s so well done that I wouldn’t change a frame of it. Keaton and Ruffalo especially are amazing here, with the former delivering one of my top five performances of 2015 to date, regardless of category or gender. He will break your heart, I swear. Ruffalo is the MVP to me, but your mileage may vary. That being said, it’s hard for anyone to see this and not be in love. It’s cinematic gold, plain and simple folks.

So what’s the competition here for Best Picture? If we remove the unseen three from the equation (The Hateful Eight, Joy, and The Revenant), the only legitimate challengers to the throne for Spotlight seem to be Brooklyn, The Martian, and Room, with the latter two the most realistic. Things might be more competitive in other categories, like Best Director or Best Original Screenplay, but there isn’t a main challenger in Picture right now. Some might have once pointed at Steve Jobs, but that ship has sailed. Maybe The Big Short can really make a big push late in the game, but that could be a long shot. Right now, this is definitely the one to beat.

Awards wise, Spotlight is obviously likely to do very well with the precursors, leading to an excellent showing with Oscar. Campaigns in Best Picture, Best Director (for McCarthy), Best Supporting Actor (for Keaton and Ruffalo), Best Supporting Actress (for McAdams), Best Original Screenplay (for McCarthy and Singer), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score are already underway, with all of them now in play for the Academy. My hunch is that you can bank on Picture, Director (for McCarthy), Supporting Actor (for both Keaton and Ruffalo), Original Screenplay (for McCarthy and Singer), and Film Editing happening, with more nominations possible. Now, it’s just a matter of which of those turn into wins.

Overall, it is certainly fair to call Spotlight the undisputed frontrunner right now, but what happens next remains to be seen. The smart money is on nothing changing until at least next month when we see the final unseen contenders, but who knows for sure? In any event, if there’s a shift in the race’s dynamic, we’ll be sure to bring it to you. Until then, don’t bet against this one. Spotlight is in theaters now, so make it your business to see it if you somehow haven’t, and sit tight for updated predictions, coming your way in a few hours…

Stay tuned to see how Spotlight does in the Best Picture race!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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