Oscar watch: “Spotlight” has the critical mass

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A scattering of early Awards Season honors have made “Spotlight” the picture to beat, and an early Oscar favorite.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” has traction, and honors are landing on George Miller as director, an overdue honor for the guy who did all the “Mad Max” movies, AND “Babe,” AND “Happy Feet.”

The LA Critics found some love for “Ex Machina” star Alicia Vikander, there’s a probable Michael Shannon supporting actor nomination for “99 Homes” seemingly in the works, Leo DiCaprio is earning early buzz from the earliest groups (NY Critics, LA Critics, Boston Critics) for “The Revenent.”

Kristen Stewart is a surprise contender, thanks to her work in the “Clouds of Sils Maria,” unreleased at this point.

“Room” and “Brooklyn” and “Carol” are scoring the expected actress nominations in both lead and supporting categories. No love for “Suffragette?” “Joy” likewise isn’t on any Oscar prognosticator’s radar.

“Beasts of No Nation” has some Idris Elba buzz, but no way Hollywood will honor a movie released in a few theaters AND on Netflix at the same time. Or will they?

Matt Damon (“The Martian”) and Michael B. Jordan (“Creed”) feel like outliers with a genuine chance to land a coveted Globe and/or Oscar nomination. Have to wonder if “Creed” will fade before that happens. “Martian” has legs, and it’s a terrific performance.

These results are tilted, early on, by the non-indicator groups “Boston Online Critics,” National Board of Review (humph), Gotham Awards, etc. Figure several titles will fade, a couple of others will rise. Those last two are notorious for honoring films that aren’t remembered come Christmas.

And let’s face it, journalist movie critics are going to LOVE a movie about heroic (print) journalists, so “Spotlight” might be earning the benefit of a little bias.

But attention is being shoved at “Love & Mercy” and some other little seen wonders at just the right moment. Some gold might emerge from this mid-December buzz.



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