Spotlight/The Big Short
In most years, the Oscar slate is a mishmash of topics, themes, settings, and styles. That will be true this year, too, but there’s an interesting number of rhyming pairs among the 2015 contenders. Each film in these pairs competes against its twin for ticket sales, awards votes, and lasting affection. There are The Revenant & The Hateful Eight, both brutal and masculine Westerns. Then there’s the emotionally-wrenching female-led indies, Room & Brooklyn. Perhaps most surprisingly, Mad Max: Fury Road & The Martian, two blockbusters with equal praise from audiences and critics are making a run at the brass ring. There’s another pair that may have the best shot of all at the biggest prize come February: Spotlight & The Big Short. I’m not here to weigh in on their awards chances today, but their rivalry in the Oscar race feels relevant. These two films, which are both very good, have some striking similarities in theme and effect and strong contrasts in tone and style.