At the 88th annual Academy Awards, the best picture race was a toss-up between a grandiose technical extravaganza and a subtle character study, a situation that felt oddly familiar. In 2015, members of the Academy went with Birdman over Boyhood, the latter being a more impactful work of art overall. But it could hardly compete with the former, which seemed practically designed in lab for the sole purpose of winning Oscars, complete with a thesis about how crucial show business is and how critics just don’t know what they’re talking about. Who would have thought a group of artists would love a movie about how amazing artists are? This year, the opposite happened: The Academy picked a straightforward but effective exercise in storytelling, Spotlight, over the more Oscar-baity nominee, The Revenant. Thank God.
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