From Vulture‘s Kyle Buchanan: “As a riveting procedural story, I’ve seen Spotlight compared to films like Zodiac and All the President’s Men, but the more instructive example for Oscar voters will be Argo, another well-engineered, fact-based drama that eventually became the Academy’s consensus pick for Best Picture. Plenty of Oscar voters will give Spotlight their No. 1 spot, but this audience-pleaser is sure to collect just about everybody else’s No. 2 votes, and that may be crucial in a year where several of the biggest movies yet to screen, like Joy and The Revenant, come from some of our most polarizing auteurs.

“Boy, is this movie good. It’s not a showy, bombastic picture — it has that in common with the journalists it portrays, who are mostly concerned with ducking their heads down and doing the work — but it’s so assured, so deft, and so satisfying that I think it’s destined to go far with Oscar voters of just about every demographic. The Academy has made daring picks for Best Picture over the past two years, anointing the tough, arty 12 Years a Slave and the wordy Birdman, but I think voters are yearning to return to something conventional, and Spotlight’s got a down-the-middle, perfectly executed pitch they’ll find hard to resist. It also has the sort of social significance that Oscar voters like from their Best Picture winner: You can pat your back for putting it on your ballot.”

Letter from journalist friend who saw it earlier today: “Sensational in every respect: direction, acting, screenplay. Great story. But I question its commercial prospects. Long, involving movies like this might not be catnip for the multiplex crowd. And I also question if you have not grown up in a heavily Catholic city in the NE, like I did, if you will really ‘get’ the power of the Church in these areas. Still, a superior piece of work.

My reply: Spotlight has the vital, humanistic stuff that people go to movies for. Period. Fuck the rural idiots. All The President’s Men has returned.

His reply: “I agree it’s this year’s ATPM. But I sat in a screening with a flack from [a southern state], and she had no idea any of this stuff was going on. Here in the South, Catholics are a real minority, and the Church doesn’t mean shit. This will play best in Boston, NYC, Philly, Baltimore, L.A., but be a tough sell in other places.”