In in a time where Catholic priest sexual abuse cases are still relevant and fresh, “Spotlight” seems to be coming in at an important time. Not only does the picture features some jaw-dropping facts about cases in Massachusetts, it goes on to hit you in the gut with “I wonder what’s going on in the area that I live in?”
The film is wonderfully casted, directed and written, making this to be the best ensemble film that I have seen so far this year. And perhaps the best film PERIOD. Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams hit their performances out of the park, giving the right amount of emotion and attention to their roles. Then we have a terrific screenplay from Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy to make this one extremely well done journalism story.
The term “spotlight” refers to the the team of writers at the Boston Globe who cover the stories that need to be heard or need a “spotlight.” The team is headed by Walter “Robby” Robinson (Keaton). His staff includes Sacha Pfeiffer (McAdams), Mike Rezendes (Ruffalo) and Matt Carroll (played by Brian d’Arcy James).
When a new editor comes on the scene from Miami, FL, Marty Baron (played by Liev Schreiber), the whole game plan changes for the spotlight team. Baron asks them to cover the Catholic priest sex abuse cases that I have been ignored for so many years and are starting to be mentioned in papers again. Baron wants the gritty details that could really expose the system of the Catholic church as it pertains to hiding sex abuse cases against young children.
Robby and his team work around the clock to figure out the details, looking at old clippings, past priest directories and trying to get the courts to release important documents that have been banned from the public eye. The documents include sensitive information that could very much damage the Catholic church. It’s an intense and eye-opening investigation that will have you feeling disgusted with how the system works.
The film features some of the best performances of the year, especially from last year’s Oscar nominated actor Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams. Both men have the best chance at getting an Oscar nomination thanks to the emotion and detail they put into their roles. Mark really gets to shine in a scene where he becomes so emotionally attached to the case that he just cannot take anymore delays in exposing the priests and the victims. McAdams doesn’t get the chance to really break out emotionally, but she offers a more sensitive role to help balance things out. She gives it her all, which makes for her one of her best performances of all time.
The rest of the supporting cast does an excellent job as well, including Stanley Tucci as the attorney who defends and listens to some of the victims and Liev Schreiber as the more quiet and reserved editor who tries to keep not only the momentum, but the peace within the staff, as well.
Tom McCarthy’s direction is sharp and at times intense. This is a step up for him after last year’s ill received film “The Cobbler.” I wouldn’t be surprised if he receives that well deserved Oscar nomination for Best Director, as this film is very well made. He also steps in as screenwriter, alongside Josh Singer (“The Fifth Estate”) to deliver a tightly written screenplay that exposes the facts, gets them right and doesn’t go for anything over-the-top. It’s a straightforward film that wants to spread light on a topic that too many of us are ignoring.
“Spotlight” is one of the year’s best films and could possibly end up winning Best Picture. It’s a terrific ensemble, accompanied by skillful direction and a smart screenplay. It’s a must-see for 2015. Rated R.