And The Award Goes To… (Spotlight review)
You ever get that feeling? That you know which person, place or thing is going to win an award or accolade? It’s a rare gift to anticipate the results, and most of the time these kinds of decisions are made based on results or conditions, but sometimes it seems like they are totally arbitrary.
Which is why it was so sweet when I predicted that this week’s movie review would win Best Picture at the Academy Awards in my for-fun betting pool with loved ones.
Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci
Director: Tom McCarthy
released on blu-ray February 23, 2016
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, Audience Score 94%
The Guardian: ****/*****
Tom McCarthy has directed five films now in his film career. Two of them I have seen and can vouch for their emotional punch; The Station Agent and Win Win. But I have not seen The Visitor nor The Cobbler, and the second one for reasons that it has been critically panned. It is currently sitting at 10% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Which is interesting to me because Spotlight is an excellent film and deserves the rating it currently has of 96%. It’s factual and to-the-point, it doesn’t turn it’s cast into cartoons or make them intellectual giants either.
Which is why I’ve decided to change it up this week and give you a much shorter summary of the whole plot, because I want you to know this story, whether you watch it on digital HD, blu-ray or DVD. And I’m willing to bet you’ll skip the plot if you feel you need to.
Taken from Wikipedia and edited,
In 2001, The Boston Globe hires a new editor, Marty Baron(Liev Schrieber). Baron meets Walter “Robby” Robinson(Michael Keaton), editor of the Spotlight team (including Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Ben Bradlee Jr.(John Slattery)), a small group of journalists writing articles that take months to research and publish. After Baron reads a Globe column about a lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian(Stanley Tucci), who says that Cardinal Law knew that the priest John Geoghan was sexually abusing children and did nothing, he urges Spotlight to investigate. Journalist Michael Rezendes(Mark Ruffalo) contacts Garabedian, who initially declines interview. Though told not to, Rezendes reveals that he is on Spotlight, persuading Garabedian to talk.
The team begin to uncover a pattern of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Massachusetts, and an ongoing cover-up by the Boston Archdiocese. Through a man who heads a victim’s rights organization, they widen their search to thirteen priests. They learn through an ex-priest who worked at trying to rehabilitate paedophile priests that there should be approximately ninety abusive priests in Boston (six percent of priests). Through their research, they develop a list of eighty-seven names, and begin to find their victims to back up their suspicions.
When the September 11 attacks occur, the team is forced to deprioritize the story. They regain momentum when Rezendes learns from Garabedian that there are publicly available documents that confirm Cardinal Law ignored the problem. Rezendes argues to run the story immediately before more victims suffer and rival newspapers publish, Robinson remains steadfast to research further and expose the whole system. After The Boston Globe wins a case to unseal more legal documents, the Spotlight team finally begins to write the story, and plan to publish in early 2002.
About to print, Robinson confesses to the team that he was sent a list of twenty pedophile priests in 1993 in a story he never followed up on. Baron, nevertheless, tells Robinson and the team that the work they are doing is important. The story goes to print exposing Cardinal Law, and requesting victims of pedophile priests to come forward. The following morning, the Spotlight team is inundated with phone calls from victims coming forward to tell their stories. The film closes with a list of places in the United States and around the world where the Catholic Church has been involved in concealing abuse by priests.
Incredibly powerful stuff.
Pros: The ensemble cast all feel like real reporters out to right wrongs in the most troublesome of settings. It also doesn’t dive into so much detail that you lose interest.
Cons: The story is already 10 years old and for a film released this year, it looks like it at times.
Runtime: 128 minutes
Points of Interest: The Catholic Church has been rather supportive of this film despite the subject matter and likely because of the accuracy of content, not leaning too far into exaggeration. All of the Spotlight cast members spent a considerable amount of time with their real-life counterparts and the real Spotlight team of the period contributed to the office set, among other details.
I’m sure a lot of you have heard of Oscar Bait before, it’s this theory which is used by film enthusiasts to describe movies that look like they’re made mainly to win Academy Awards or at the very least, to get nominations. Movies released later in the calendar year, to stay fresh in the voters minds and also ensure more commercial success.
Think of period pieces which are set up in a dramatic way… Kinda like Spotlight. But the reason why I think Spotlight is an excellent film, even though it may be considered Oscar Bait, is because it is directly addressing a problem apparent in the social landscape, one of pedophilia and rape. And it tastefully addresses the issue as it relates to the Catholic Church, one which has been on our minds for more than a decade now.
So the theory might hold up here, but who gives a shit? It’s a well made movie about an important issue. But you tell me what you think. Please leave some comments or message firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to share some private feedback or get involved.
See you dear readers tomorrow with some wisdom.