‘Spotlight’ takes the lead in the last Contender Countdown on HitFix

It the Venice, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals have come to an end it means you can pretty much start seriously talking about Best Picture nominees.  We haven”t written much about Oscar over the past few months, but as I personally say goodbye HitFix today it seems appropriate to leave with one last Contender Countdown (well on this site at least).

The big news is that “Spotlight,” Tom McCarthy”s critically acclaimed drama that will make everyone forget he ever directed “The Cobbler,” blew the roof off of all three fests.  That”s a big surprise considering how under the radar it was compared to “The Danish Girl,” “Black Mass” and “Steve Jobs” just a few weeks ago.  Now, all Open Road Films has to do is manage the hype before it hits theaters on Nov. 6 and formulate a strategy to make sure Michael Keaton or Mark Ruffalo earn an acting nomination.  If it has any real chance at winning the big prize it”s going to need at least one nod from the acting branch.  

As for the other hyped contenders, in theory “Danish” and “Jobs” are still in play.  Are they really potential winners though?  In a year where a true frontrunner may not appear until late in the game it”s just too early to say.  In fact, you could argue it”s been over 10 years since a legitimate frontrunner wasn”t obvious after Toronto.  Then again, maybe “Spotlight” really is that picture. 

And yes, if you hadn”t heard I”m officially leaving HitFix.  You can find out more about why here, but as I sashay away into unknown adventures I ask one thing to my loyal readers (all four of you):  please be kind to this crew.  They are working hard and trying new things. Who wouldn”t want to encourage that?

In the meantime, you can follow me on twitter @TheGregoryE and within the next few days (god willing) I”ll have a new site up for my awards season thoughts at – surprise – awardscampaign.com.  There will be a weekly Contender Countdown column,  and more as the season progresses (and as I figure out what's next). 

You can remove Oscar from a site, but pulling a pundit from the awards season beat is like trying to get a basketball gunner to stop taking difficult shots.  They won”t listen to you and they”ll keep bombing from long range until the clock runs out. (You knew I had to get one hoops reference in, right?)

How about one more go around the Countdown for old times sake?

(Note: at this early stage these are ranked only by their chances to earn a Best Picture nomination.)

1. “Spotlight”
Hands down the one film Academy members mentioned at Telluride more than any other.  Doesn't mean it's going to win it all, but believe the hype.  Open Road has a player.