Old school journalism has been on the chopping block for years now. Sadly, the expansion of the Internet into a blogosphere of instant info has killed newspapers and run the news business into the gutter. We may be happy that we can get info quickly on our phones, but it’s at the expense of something important. That something is the hard working journalists that make a real difference. Journalists like the ones portrayed in the new film ‘Spotlight’.
In this brilliantly paced and expertly crafted thriller, we get a look into one of the most important stories revealed this century. No, not the scoop on George and Amal’s wedding. I’m referring to the Catholic sex scandal that rocked our nation for nearly a century and Boston Globe journalists who uncovered it with great reporting. It’s kind of amazing how simple and familiar the formula is for a movie like this, but when it works perfectly it can be truly powerful filmmaking.
‘Spotlight’ is an example of everything working exactly as it should to create a story that exposes exactly what took place and digs into the difficulty of how institutionalized passivity prevented good reporters from doing the right thing. It deals with the consequences of looking the other way and not following up on leads because it pointed fingers at an institution you had faith in. It shows how a ridiculously powerful institution can completely control everything and get away with something as horrible as mass rape with little to no punishment.
It does this with one of the best scripts of the year and some of the most reliable actors in the business. Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, and the entire cast give pitch perfect performances in their respective roles. As a matter of fact, I’d bet both Ruffalo and Keaton get nominated for Oscars. Not to mention the movie likely winning the Oscar for Best Picture. It’s just that good on every level. Howard Shore’s score is wonderful. The editing is tight. The script hits at every important aspect of the story with ease and grace. And the film is amazingly emotional without manipulation.
Bottom line, this movie is damn near perfect. It’s an entertaining movie that tells an extremely important story, but lots of movies do that. The truly exceptional thing is the way it does it without pandering or missing a beat. The movie never strikes a false note and director Tom McCarthy gets everything he can out of every department. Sometimes the best movie of the year is a sweeping masterpiece. Sometimes it’s the movie that just got everything right. That’s this movie, and it just might be the best of the year.