“Spotlight” is the best, most accurate and most important journalistic procedural since “All the President’s Men.”
Based on the true story behind the Boston Globe’s investigation of child abuse within the local Catholic archdiocese, “Spotlight” hammers home the horrors of sexual abuse without even one scene of that abuse (which would be so alienating as to make the film unwatchable).
It builds a sense of moral outrage in the viewer that carries far beyond the confines of the movie theater or the specifics of clergy abuse cases. It is at heart a story of brave (or at least dedicated) individuals taking on a corrupt system, and therein lies an eternal lesson.
It is a work of immense impact delivered with a minimum of ego.
Writer/director Tom McCarthy and his cast give us a film virtually devoid of Oscar-bait moments (although Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo have been nominated for their supporting performances). The film is free of cheap shots, hyperbole and sensationalism.
Instead of throwing around its dramatic weight, “Spotlight” builds its case on quietly contained moments, small revelations and a growing sense of dread for a system run amok. In this way “Spotlight” shakes us to our souls, but without showing off.
You can expect the film to win an Oscar for original screenplay, at the very least.
Everyone involved gives the impression that the story they’re telling is more important than their personal screen time.
All of which makes “Spotlight” simultaneously the most selfless and most important of this year’s best picture nominees.
Freelance movie critic Robert W. Butler writes film reviews, features and commentary for The Star and at butlerscinemascene.com.