It’s easy to understand why Spotlight won this year’s Academy Award for Best Movie.
The acting is brilliant, it’s based on a true story, it’s true to life and despite knowing the outcome there’s still plenty of drama and suspense.
Spotlight tells of the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Spotlight team of investigative journalists, who in 2002 shocked the city and the world by exposing the Catholic Church’s systematic cover-up of widespread paedophilia perpetrated by more than 70 local priests.
When newly appointed editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) arrives from Miami to take charge of the Globe in the summer of 2001, he immediately directs the Spotlight team to follow up on a column about a local priest accused of having sexually abused dozens of young parishioners over the course of 30 years.
Fully aware that taking on the Catholic Church in Boston will have major ramifications, Spotlight editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), reporters Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), and researcher Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) reluctantly begin delving more deeply into the case.
As they confer with the victims’ attorney Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci), interview adults who were molested as children, and pursue the release of sealed court records, it becomes clear that the church’s systematic protection of predatory priests is far more wide-reaching than any of them ever imagined.
Despite staunch resistance from church officials, including Boston’s Cardinal Law (Len Cariou), the Globe publishes its blockbuster exposé in January 2002, leading the way for similar revelations in more than 200 other cities around the world.
While the topic covered in Spotlight is distressing, the movie never resorts to sensationalism. Some victims describe their horrific experiences, but the movie is more concerned with how the Spotlight team actually uncovers the truth. It tells of the many barriers they face, including the legal system and their own beliefs.
While both McAdams and Ruffalo have been nominated for supporting actor Oscars there are no individual standout performances in Spotlight. It is a team effort with all actors impressively playing their roles.
It’s easy to understand why journalists love this movie. It provides a realistic picture of the typical investigative newspaper journalist and the newsrooms in which they work. There’s nothing glamorous about it – often the work involves a long and hard slog. It can also be very frustrating and extremely distressing, especially when dealing with people’s misery. But then there are the breakthroughs and when it all comes together there is the chance to make a difference.
Many are also lamenting the era when newspapers actually allowed journalists the time and resources to break such stories.As Spotlight reveals, although many people in authority knew what was going on for many years no one was willing to do anything about it. It makes one wonder who will expose major wrongs in the future.
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