Leave it to good old-fashioned journalism to throw off The Revenant's big night: Spotlight just won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It was a clear upset victory, with The Revenant having earned several awards throughout the evening, most notably the first Academy Award for star Leonardo DiCaprio. Spotlight not only beat out Alejandro Iñárritu's revenge film, but audience favorites like Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian, as well as critical darlings Room and Brooklyn.
While the Best Picture race seemed to be clearly leaning in The Revenant's favor just a few weeks ago, the picture became muddied when The Big Short took home the top honor at the Producers Guild Awards, and Spotlight then won the Screen Actors Guild honor for best ensemble cast. Both awards have been Oscar Best Picture predictors in the past, making it clear that Revenant didn't have everything sewn up as neatly as it may have seemed. Continuing in the tradition of films like All The President's Men, Spotlight utilized a stellar cast — with Oscar-nominated performances from Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams — and solid direction from Tom McCarthy to tell the true story of The Boston Globe investigative unit that broke the story of widespread sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the area. It's the kind of film that often serves as catnip for Academy voters, letting them show that they care about pressing social issues, while also celebrating quality filmmaking.