Southern crit­ics take a shine to ‘Spot­light’

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - MOVIE LISTINGS - By John Bei­fuss

The fact-based news­pa­per drama “Spot­light” — still at the Malco Ridge­way Cin­ema Grill af­ter a month in Mem­phis — was named the best film of 2015 by the South­east­ern Film Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion.

Fifty-five crit­ics from nine states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Ge­or­gia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ten­nessee and Vir­ginia — par­tic­i­pated in the SEFCA poll. Vot­ers in­cluded two mem­bers of the staff of The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal, John Bei­fuss and Chris Her­ring­ton.

In­spired by The Bos­ton Globe’s Pulitzer-win­ning in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the Ro­man Catholic’s church coverup of pe­dophile priests, “Spot­light” also earned nods for Best Ensem­ble (the cast in­cludes Michael Keaton, Mark Ruf­falo, Rachel McA­dams and Stan­ley Tucci) and Best Orig­i­nal Screen­play (cred­ited to di­rec­tor Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer). The vic­tory con­tin­ues a run that has po­si­tioned the film as per­haps the top con­tender for the Os­car for Best Pic­ture of 2015: “Spot­light” also was named the year’s best by crit­ics groups rep­re­sent­ing Los An­ge­les, San Francisco, Chicago, Bos­ton and Wash­ing­ton, among other lo­ca­tions.

“‘Spot­light’ was a clear fa­vorite with our mem­bers,” said SEFCA pres­i­dent Philip Martin of the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette. He said 99 movies re­ceived at least one vote in the poll, “but ‘Spot­light’ ap­peared on 80 per­cent of the bal­lots and re­ceived 19 No. 1 votes, by far the most of any film. Rarely have we had that sort of con­sen­sus ... .

Adding a Mem­phis con­nec­tion to the SEFCA awards, “Best of En­e­mies,” a doc­u­men­tary about the Gore Vi­dal-Wil­liam F. Buck­ley Jr. de­bates of 1968, fin­ished sec­ond in the Best Doc­u­men­tary cat­e­gory. The film — now avail­able via Net­flix and on Blu-ray and DVD — was di­rected by Mem­phis’ Robert Gor­don

The 10th an­nual Wy­att Award, given to the film “that best evokes the spirit of the South,” went to “Find­ers Keep­ers,” an odd­ball doc­u­men­tary about a dis­pute over a North Carolina man’s amputated leg. The movie has yet to re­ceive a Mem­phis screen­ing but is avail­able on Ama­zon and iTunes. The Wy­att Award is named for the late Gene Wy­att, a critic with The Nashville Ten­nessean who was a char­ter mem­ber of the group.

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