Starring: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Brian D’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup, Jamey Sheridan, Len Cariou, Paul Guilfoyle
Directed By: Tom McCarthy
You might have heard of Spotlight. It’s one of the rumored frontrunners for Best Picture this year, and having seen Spotlight, I’d have a hard time arguing against that logic. Spotlight is easily one of the years best films, if not one of the most “important” films. It’s a reminder that not so long ago we uncovered an awful truth about the Catholic church and its priests, and it all started with an article written by the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe.
The Spotlight team, headed by Walter Robinson (Keaton) picks their topics and spends sometimes a year doing investigative reporting and fleshing out the whole story. When the Boston Globe gets a new boss (Schreiber), he suggests they look into the story of a priest who had molested 80 children, and whether or not this was a bigger issue. It turns out to be a much bigger issue, and every time it gets bigger, jaws drop. At first, a priest molesting 80 children seems like a tall order. Then they find out it might be three priests. Then 13. Then 90. By the end of the film, you’re left pulling your jaw off the floor. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had a movie that has surprised me more after the final scene in their “post credits” wrap up.
That’s where the mastery in Spotlight really shines, in the ability to keep the audience engaged, and to constantly be raising the bar. We know it’s coming, but the authenticity of the “oh shit” moments is what makes the film work so well. We know that this priest thing was big. We watched the news. But still, each time the number grows, it’s still as impactful as ever. This is really due a lot to the work of the ensemble cast and their tight work together. There is no lead. There’s a core ensemble and they all work equally to tell the story. That’s why they’re all pushing for supporting nominations. They’re like the Modern Family cast. They don’t believe one person was a lead over the others. I feel like that’s true.
Ruffalo brings his usual “Ruffaloian” mannerisms to his role. Keaton continues to explore this world where he’s treated like a serious actor. McAdams clearly would like to be taken seriously as an actress more often. Schreiber is happy to not be yelling at people on Ray Donovan. It’s a solid ensemble.
It’s hard to say that any one actor delivers the “best performance of the year”, but it’s nice seeing Brian D’Arcy James being called up to the big boy table. He’s become the forgotten cast member in the “awards talk”, but his screentime and his performance is equal to Ruffalo and McAdams for sure. He even has one of the movies most powerful moments, but I won’t give it away.
Spotlight isn’t quite in wide release, but when it comes to your town, see it. It’s one of the best, and possibly the most important film you’ll see this year. It might just win Best Picture.
FINAL GRADE: A