Michael Keaton probably should’ve started this whole “drama acting” thing a while ago. He could have a lot more Oscar nominations.
“Spotlight” tells the true story of the Boston Globe team of journalists (Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian d’Arcy James) that worked to uncover the child abuse by Catholic priests, and the extents the church went through to cover it up. Tom McCarthy directs and co-writes.
Keaton earned his first career Oscar nomination for last year’s “Birdman,” and many think he could score another nomination for his work here. Keaton, along with pretty much the entire cast, does solid and nuanced work in “Spotlight,” a film that is more about the little moment and aftertaste it leaves in your mouth than the wide scope.
The story told in “Spotlight” is something many people may have heard of, but few likely know the extents the journalists went through in order to uncover the conspiracy involving the Catholic Church. As a journalism major, I appreciate a film that shows the work newspapers go through to break a story and the inner-conflicts they have on how and when to run them.
Director McCarthy does a very good job subtly showing the power and influence the Church has over the institutions and families of Boston, by doing things like showing churches in the background of many establishing shots. The script, which he co-wrote with Josh Singer, has some nice interplay between the characters, and gives each actor an individual scene to shine.
The real stars of the show to me, however, are Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Stanley Tucci. Ruffalo is arguably the lead of the ensemble cast, given the character with most emotional weight. He has one scene that will likely be used as his “For Your Consideration” reel, and the scenes that he and a small but effective Tucci share are when the film is at its best. McAdams has these subtle looks and sympathetic expressions that convey so much without saying a word.
The film does take a little while to get going (the team kicks the story around before they realize the magnitude it could have), and at times people throwing out names of so many priests, lawyers, and victims, half of which never get a face placed to them, can get confusing in-the-moment.
The film will make you angry that so little was done to stop and punish the priests who abused so many children, but that is just good filmmaking. At the end of the film is lists cities that have since had sex abuse scandals brought up against the Church, and it’s enormous.
“Spotlight” isn’t groundbreaking cinema, and it isn’t intense throughout the entire runtime as it is in some individual moments, but those moments that do excel are as effective and entertaining as anything at the movies this year.
Critics Rating: 8/10