I’m assembling a little assessment piece about the Best Picture showdown between The Revenant and Spotlight (don’t kid yourself — The Big Short is in third place), and a few minutes ago I asked several industry friends for any input they could offer — qualifications, agreements, arguments. Voting isn’t over, remember, until tomorrow afternoon at 5 pm, and I’m betting that a lot of people are on the fence about this. It’s been that kind of year, as we all know.
The pro-Spotlight argument is that the old white lefty contingent (60-plus actors, slightly doddering, somewhat resentful if not seething about the Academy’s rule change, inclined to push back…Ed Asner, Diane Ladd, Connie Stevens, Marty Landau…that crowd) are, I’m hearing, squarely in Spotlight‘s corner.
And most of their voices haven’t been heard, really, except by way of SAG’s ensemble award, which of course went to Spotlight.
The rallying cry is “those of you who are pissed about the new Academy rules, have your voice heard by voting for Spotlight.”
I am nothing if not a staunch Revenant guy. I’ve seen it five times, and I worship Ryuichi Sakamoto‘s score. I’ve heard that The Revenant needs to make $425 to $450 million to break even, and yet it seems to be safely on the way to that. It’s been doing so well all over — it’s the risk-and-success story of the year. All those awards (Golden Globes, BAFTA, DGA) and all that dough.
But my journalist heart-of-hearts belongs to Spotlight. And you know that the classic surprise happy ending on 2.28 would be if Spotlight takes the prize.
If Spotlight doesn’t win…well, okay. At least the Open Road team gave it the old college try, everyone gave it a good run, and the film is certain to double up on that revenue on home video. Everyone involved can be proud of Spotlight being at least the #2 choice among the three Best Picture finalists at this stage in the game.
“The Revenant has it in the bag” narrative stems from three things, I’m told — the industry consensus awards (DGA and BAFTA awards for Revenant/Inarritu, the PGA not being a Revenant win, the SAG ensemble being for Spotlight), the blogaroonie narrative & the massive ad buys by the Fox/Revenant team.
One more time: (1) the industry indecision (i.e., all over the map until recently), (2) blogaroonie consensus & (3) the Phase One/Phase Two spend.
If you accept the general assessment that the Academy is still primarily older and liberal and white (and how could you not given that the Board of Governors instituted those membership changes based on their belief in the older-white-voter dominance) the choice is Spotlight and not The Revenant. Among this crowd, I mean. I’m told. Please take this with a grain.
What do you guys think? Please tell me I’m wrong or half-right or whatever.
Variety editor Steven Gaydos: “For what it’s worth the momentum is all in Revenant‘s favor: big grosses, big guild awards Golden Globes, critical support. If there are divisions I see them as primarily those who value word craft and narrative purpose and those who are blown away by the producton achievements repped by Revenant. Plus it’s got that Malick vibe to further validate its ‘high-minded’ approach. So to summarize, the writers branch goes with Spotlight, but between the prodiction achievement, critical support and Malickian poetry vibe, it’s all Revenant. That’s a prediction. not an endorsement.”
Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone: “The Revenant has to accrue a significant number of number 1 votes to win before they do a recount. If they recount, old guard or not, The Revenant will not get as many pick up votes as Spotlight or The Big Short. Likely, The Big Short had the advantage at PGA because of movies like Ex Machina and Straight Outta Compton. Both Big Short and Spotlight are high ballot second and third choices after number one choices. Whichever of those two comes in first ahead, I think is the winner.
“My stubborn refusal to let go of the stats says The Big Short. But my instincts are telling me Spotlight. I am not seeing a scenario where The Revenant wins…BUT that’s what everyone is predicting so you should go with that. The Revenant‘s problem with a preferential ballot is that it tends to be a love it/hate it kind of thing.”
Director-screenwriter-author Mike Binder: “All I can tell you is I’m voting for Spotlight as Best Picture and Tom McCarthy for Best Director. But I’m not a lefty.”