Wednesday, February 3, 2016
OSCARS 2016: Spotlight (2015)
Spotlight” has the early front-runner for Best Picture. An intimately shot drama about an important issue seemed right up the Academy’s alley. “Spotlight” has continued to pick up some big awards but faces stiff competition. But let’s step away from Oscar hype for a second and ask the least important question: Is the movie actually good? Does it address the heavy issues at the center of film with dignity but realism? Is it a stiff bit of Award-hungry flotsam or an actually riveting drama?
In early 2001, the Boston Globe received a new editor. He encourages the Spotlight team, the investigative journalists within the paper, to explore local issues important to the city. The team is encouraged to investigate reports that the local Catholic Church knew pedophile priests were molesting kids and covered it up, doing little to stop the abuse. The deeper the team digs, the more they discover. Soon, the paper is sitting atop a massive conspiracy, involving over seventy priests and hundreds of potential victims.
“Spotlight” is truly an ensemble film. The film draws upon an excellent collection of actors. Mark Ruffalo, nominated for Best Supporting Actor despite being a lead, starts off as a really chill guy. He runs to work and approaches most everything with a laid-back perspective. As the characters explore the case more, he grows increasingly more disturbed by what’s happening. A stand-out moment of acting involves Ruffalo loosing his cool, yelling at his editor in rage. Rachel McAdams mostly acts with her face, reacting silently if shocked to the confessions around her. Brian d’Arcy James is probably my favorite of the main cast, the one who reacts most violently to what’s happening. Michael Keaton, as the head editor, has the hard decision of delaying the publication of the story several times, always after a bigger reveal. Stanly Tucci is also great as the put-upon lawyer, handling the abuse cases as they arrive.
A sparse, piano-driven score by Howard Shore and overly clean but often lyrical direction from Tom McCarthy further seals “Spotlight.” The film isn’t without some hiccups. Liev Schreiber is underutilized as the milquetoast new editor. The film incorporates the September 11th attacks somewhat awkwardly. Still, “Spotlight” features some powerful writing and some very strong performances, an expertly executed drama about an all too raw issue. [8/10]