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‘Spotlight,’ the Boston Online Film Critics, and Why Awards ‘Snubs’ Are Almost Always Bunk

'Spotlight,' the Boston Online Film Critics, and Why Awards 'Snubs' Are Almost Always Bunk

It was around the time a reader responded to my two-line pan of “The English Patient” with a letter suggesting I would have been more kindly disposed to the film had I ever actually been in love that I resolved never to make assumptions about another person’s character based on their taste in movies. That’s a lesson that Showbiz411’s Roger Friedman, who’s been in the game considerably long than I have, apparently has yet to master. Upon learning that the Boston Online Film Critics Association had given their top prize to the “idiotic but fun” “Mad Max: Fury Road” instead of “Spotlight,” Friedman flew into a rage, stopping just short of suggesting that when “Spotlight” loses, the terrorists win:

“Forget all that ‘Boston Strong crap from the marathon bombing,” Friedman wrote. “This is the petty side of Boston you don’t hear about. ‘Spotlight’ is the best movie of the year, and a leading Oscar contender. But whoever those so called critics are they couldn’t rise above themselves to give McCarthy and co. the win. Their sop to ‘Spotlight’ was Best Screenplay. Please. And a bunch of awards to ‘Mad Max.’ Too bad. Boston used to be a smart town. Times have changed.”

The Hollywood Reporter took a similar tack, albeit in less heated language and without the insinuation that the BOFCA was giving aid and comfort to the enemy. “Boston Online Film Critics Snub ‘Spotlight’ for ‘Mad Max,'” read the headline, although Natalie Stone’s article merely stated that the group “opted” for one movie over the other.

It should come as no surprise, rage-inducing or otherwise, that “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which occupies the #1 slot on Rotten Tomatoes’ weighted ranking of 2015 releases, might find favor in year-end awards. But if Friedman can’t be bothered to resolve his confusion about “whoever these so called [sic] critics are” with a cursory Google, perhaps it’s no surprise he’s taken aback. Or maybe he’s just mad he couldn’t roll with his pre-planned “Boston-themed Movie Wins in Boston” narrative and had to slap together a post on a Saturday.

I wasn’t privy to the BOFCA’s deliberations, but if they really wanted to “snub” “Spotlight,” it’s doubtful they would have given it awards for Best Screenplay and Best Ensemble, or placed it fifth on their list of the year’s best movie. (Personal to the BOFCA: If this was your idea of a snub, you suck at snubs.) Twenty-five men and women don’t make any decision for the exact same reason, and while it’s fair to speak of collective preferences, attributing an underlying motive is both fraudulent and silly, especially when you can’t be bothered to talk to any of the actual voters. (We’ll never know if homophobia kept “Brokeback Mountain” from winning Best Picture, but at least there’s proof it was on some voters’ minds.) If Friedman thinks “Fury Road” is a lousy choice, so be it, but insinuating it’s a choice driven by pettiness rather than preferences is not only baseless, but a betrayal of the journalistic principles espoused by the movie he holds so dear.

The Boston Film Critics Online 2015 Awards

Best Picture: “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Director: George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Actor: Michael B. Jordan, “Creed

Best Actress: Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn

Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

Best Supporting Actress: Kristen Stewart, “Clouds of Sils Maria

Best Ensemble: “Spotlight”

Best Screenplay: Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, “Spotlight”

Best Foreign-Language Film: “Son of Saul”

Best Documentary: “Amy”

Best Animated Film: “Inside Out”

Best Cinematography: John Seale, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Editing: Margaret Sixel, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Original Score: Junkie XL, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

The Ten Best Films of the Year

1. “Mad Max: Fury Road”

2. “Creed”

3. “Brooklyn”

4. “Carol

5. “Spotlight”

6. “Clouds of Sils Maria”

7. “Bridge of Spies

8. The Martian

9. “Anomalisa

10. “Tangerine

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