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AWARDS SEASON: Chasing the Spotlight

Posted on the 09 December 2015 by Shane Slater @filmactually

AWARDS SEASON: Chasing the Spotlight

Will Spotlight hold on to its early lead?


If you're an Oscar fan like me, then you know last week was a big one for awards, culminating with Super Sunday, when "Spotlight" made a clean sweep of Best Film awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online and the Boston Society of Film Critics. This ensemble drama from director Thomas McCarthy has been gaining momentum since its successful run through the festival circuit. And now it's position at the top of the field has been confirmed.
But the race is far from over, with many films jostling for their spot in a Best Picture lineup that could have as few as 5 nominees. And looking at these other contenders, one thing that's clear is the potential for one of the most varied Best Picture shortlists in years. Whereas other years reflected an nearly homogenized "mood" or "zeitgeist", 2015 seems set to capture what the Oscars are supposed to be - a celebration of cinema. Indeed, the presumed race spans a wide range of genres, mediums and themes. These include: sci-fi ("The Martian"), action ("Mad Max: Fury Road"), sports ("Creed"), western ("The Revenant"), romance ("Brooklyn") and of course, the requisite historical drama about a great man ("Bridge of Spies"). Particularly noteworthy is the presence of several women-centric films, like TIFF People's Choice winner "Room" and the lesbian-themed "Carol". After last year's overwhelmingly male-dominated field, it's certainly refreshing.
So on the eve of the nominations for the Big Three televised awards (SAG, Golden Globes, Critics Choice), here are my current predictions for Best Picture:
  1. Spotlight
  2. The Martian
  3. Mad Max: Fury Road
  4. Carol
  5. Bridge of Spies
  6. Room
  7. Creed
  8. The Revenant
  9. Brooklyn
  10. Inside Out

As most are predicting, the race is currently between "Spotlight" and "The Martian", the likely winners of the two Golden Globe Best Picture awards. Unlike some other pundits, I believe the infamous categorization of the latter in Comedy was a brilliant move. The best way to stay in voters' minds is via awards speeches, and the surefire wins for the film and Matt Damon there will be a major boost for that campaign. And they'll need every bit of help to overcome a more "important" film like "Spotlight".
The coming weeks will certainly see many movements in the order however, in what will certainly be one of the more fluid awards seasons we've seen. Even if "Spotlight" (or "Mad Max: Fury Road") dominates the critics awards as expected, it's going to be a whole new ballgame when the guilds have their say. I can't wait to see what surprises are in store.

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