Sure we now live in a post Oscars 2016 world, sure it’s even easier to say that Spotlight was the best film of the Oscar picks considering it won Best Picture. But before the awards were handed out a little over a week ago the buzz was around The Revenant and the now Academy Award winner Leonardo Dicaprio. Don’t get me wrong, Leo was a worthy winner on the night and so to Alejandro Iñárritu scooping best director for his efforts but Spotlight really was the best film. Here’s why…
In the spotlight
Going to watch Spotlight I didn’t know what to expect. I’d seen the trailer about four times in the space of many weeks and was intrigued by the cast (although the trailer made the plot appear complex). It’s fair to say that I was probably the least excited about the prospect of sitting through a film that would be bubble-wrapped into 127 minutes of pure dialogue. BUT, as the bubble-wrapped dialogue unfolded I grew more captivated by the chemistry between the performances of the actors and the truth behind the subject matter.
A film like Spotlight doesn’t often find its way through the Hollywood system onto cinema screens around the world and there’s a reason for that. In a time where gimmicky special effects and B list actors top the box office charts year upon year, it must be incredibly difficult to pitch a film with a controversial theme.
I think this is crazy. Why?
Films are the best platform to educate people on mass. I knew nothing about the Boston globe newspaper and the lengths its “Spotlight” team went to, to unravel the sickening truth behind the sexual abuse of children in the Boston area by Roman Catholic priests in 2002.
Writer and director Tom McCarthy was able to handle this subject matter very delicately whilst delivering a powerful ensemble piece through the intertwining stories of its lead characters. Michael Keaton heads up the team as the sub divisions head honcho Walter Robinson and is tasked with uncovering more information after Marty Baron, played by Liev Schrieber becomes the new chief editor of the Globe. Both actors are excellent in their respective roles and the renaissance of Keaton grows stronger with every character he embodies, after the very successful Birdman(2014).
N.B. To me it’s no surprise that Keaton is gaining notoriety amongst new audiences once more. This guy played Batman in two Tim burton films in the 1980s/90s and is the title character in Beetlejuice(1988), in other words he has acting pedigree and was once at the very top of the Hollywood acting tree. I’m glad he’s back because he enriches movies with a subtle presence that invigorates scenes that could otherwise be dour.
Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams support Keaton in his pursuit to overcome the powerful nature of the clergy and they do so with a sense of true realism. It’s a weird thing to say but its been such a long time since I’ve truly believed a series of actors performances in the same movie. In this film, I believe every single performance. It feels real, it’s as if the actors are learning this damning information for the very first time, I certainly was.
Ruffalo’s growing desperation to see justice happen left such a lasting impression on me that I went home that night and I simply could not stop thinking about how corrupt the world we live in is and how we barely raise an eyebrow, this considered when all the information is right in front of us. McAdams too, brings great candor to the plot and its nice to see her take a turn away from films with romantic plots.
Wow. Go see this film, and tell other people about this film so they can see it too. True, the film is not a movie blockbuster. It shouldn’t be and it doesn’t need to be. It’s refreshing to see a Hollywood studio release a film with a pure goal to educate and inform. Spotlight does this and more. McCarthy should receive a standing ovation amongst his peers for enlightening those of us who know little about how a small editorial team took apart the corrupt and detestable clergy of Boston. But it doesn’t stop there as the film highlights.
Years pass by, Oscars come and go but films like Spotlight must continue to be heralded and more importantly they must be continue to be made with their stories told. Without this, humanity has no backbone and cinema plays its part in the corruption.