Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Hollywood Insiders”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upI wonder if this puzzle was originally scheduled to run a couple of weeks earlier (the Oscars were awarded on 3/4), but in any event, we are looking for a Best Picture-winning film. Not a theme in my wheelhouse, but let’s see how it turns out.
The only obvious theme answer seems to be the central 15:
- 38a. [Where to find Oscar winners], SEALED ENVELOPE
But it wasn’t long afterwards that I noticed the V’s scattered around the grid with E and N in front of them. (Although it initially bothered me that with something like CONVEYS, the letters weren’t in the correct order.) My first thought was to look at the letters between the ENV sequences (“sealed” between them), thinking ENV is often used as an abbreviation for ENVELOPE. I found an encouraging sequence including “IT’S PAT” in the last row of the grid, nestled between the ENV of ENVOI and ENVENOM (both somewhat unusual entries that gave me hope that I was on the right path). Could it be possible that Julia Sweeney (from SNL)’s 1994 movie won a Best Picture that year?
Hardly likely, so I kept searching. Finally I noticed that the rest of the letters of ENVELOPE could be traced beginning with these ENV’s and indeed, they formed a 3×3 box with one letter (“sealed”) in the middle. YAY! Reading from left to right and top to bottom we have ARGO, the Best Picture Oscar winner from 2013 and a frequent visitor to crossword grids, finally displacing Homer’s The Odyssey after a two millennia run.
Fun meta but the visual aspect did lead to some compromises in the surrounding fill–I’m looking at you GIGO (“Garbage In, Garbage Out”), CEREBRA, NO SEATS, BIV (as in Roy G.) and the odd comparative SVELTER. Not that I’m a good judge of these things, but is Janet MCTEER a household name in your household? I did enjoy seeing the entry YONDER, as it reminded me of a mobile application for outdoor enthusiasts that a friend of mine worked on in Woodstock.
Next week is ACPT so I’ll be writing my commentary from Stamford, CT. Please say hello if you see me handing out welcome packets Friday night and Saturday morning, or puzzles during the tournament itself.