Magazine article Variety

Regional Critics Groups 'Spotlight' Consensus

Magazine article Variety

Regional Critics Groups 'Spotlight' Consensus

Article excerpt

A funny thing happened on the way to the Oscars in 2013. An up-for-grabs year in many categories - among them best picture, particularly between front-running contenders "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" - came into focus thanks to agreement among regional critics organizations.

While the early awards circuit that year had seen the New York film critics favor "American Hustle" for the top award, and the Los Angeles org deadlock on "Gravity" and "Her," the guilds further muddied the waters down the stretch, as "Hustle" won the Screen Actors Guild's ensemble prize, "Gravity" helmer Alfonso Cuaron took the directors guild's prize, and "Gravity" tied "12 Years" for the Producers Guild crown. Consensus seemed to be lacking everywhere you turned.

But on the regional circuit, "12 Years," the eventual best picture Oscar winner, was racking up win after win. Groups from Boston, Chicago, Florida and Houston, to name but a few, lined up behind Steve McQueen's slavery drama, just as many had the year before with Ben Affleck's "Argo." It was noteworthy, because consensus is crucial when it comes to the best picture Oscar; the Academy's preferential balloting system favors films that are generally agreeable over "love it/hate it" contenders.

That kind of consensus appears to be developing among regional groups this year for "Spotlight." Tom McCarthy's film has, as of press time, claimed best picture honors from 14 critics groups, including those from Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Vancouver, St. Louis and Detroit. A distant second is George Miller's "Mad Max: Fury Road" with seven. Only three other films - "Carol," "Suffragette" and "Creed" - have claimed best picture honors from any critics organization.

Is the writing on the wall for Open Road's journalism drama, or is "Spotlight" - a film about a crusading team of journalists - simply a film that inherently appeals to the media? …

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