This will be full of spoilers, beware.
- Director: Tom McCarthy
- Mike Rezendes — Mark Ruffalo
- Walter “Robby” Robinson — Michael Keaton
- Sacha Pfeiffer — Rachel McAdams
- Matt Caroll — Brian d’Arcy James
- Marty Baron — Live Schreiber
- Ben Bradlee Jr. — John Slattery
This is yet another movie that makes me wish that I was a reporter/ could write decently. I feel I won’t be able to portray the severity of the situation or won’t portray it correctly.
I really enjoyed how uneasy this film made me feel. I didn’t want to believe, like most involved in reporting this issue that this could actually have happened. It’s so disgusting to the core that these young kids could have been exploited sexually. The results were truly traumatizing and made me cringe as each victim appeared on screen. I was shaken for a few days after watching and then went back for more. That to me speaks volume to how this film should be rated. It was so realistic and well-acted that I forgot that it was a movie. Sometimes we want to be taken out of this world and experience different kinds of emotions, but there are times when we need a movie like this. It shows us reality in the cleanest way and lets us quickly take it all in.
I enjoyed the style that McCarthy chose to use. It was intense and to the point. The characters’ emotion was well shot and I don’t think there was one wasted move from the camera. The looks of pure disbelief and anger that are shown are masterful. This movie attacks your faith in the system and McCarthy made it feel surreal and how I imagine the actual people felt in these situations. Usually, movies like this lose attention to detail and get lost in expositions, but McCarthy subtly let characters in and we slowly saw their backstories. I definitely believe that McCarthy should have gotten the Oscar nomination for best director. The editing by Tom McArdle is also no small feat. The team put together quite a film. Both Oscar nominations were deserved in my book.
The rock of this movie is Rachel McAdams. She is the most consistent character who works hard and does a great job. In a few scenes, she almost seems to be the accessory but I think the way that her character develops as she understands each victim is incredibly apparent. I’m guessing that the film wasn’t shot in order so the fact that the emotion that she shows seems to progress naturally is quite the accomplishment. McAdams stays completely calm throughout the entire process and then ends with the realization that she has to tell her mom, who still goes to church, the news. It was heart-wrenching seeing McAdams tear her mom’s world apart. I can’t say enough praise about her performance. Definitely deserving of the high praise from the community and the Oscar nomination.
On the exact other side of the spectrum, Mark Ruffalo gets spun off the tracks a few times and it’s flat out amazing. His energy can be felt throughout the film and he has a monologue at the end in which I would hand him the Oscar if I could. I can sometimes forget that Ruffalo is a real actor when all I can remember seeing him as the Hulk. He does a great job of not over-acting and being believable despite given one of the hardest roles in the movie. He argues with the lawyer that can simply be described as difficult. Ruffalo shines especially in his ability to mirror his real life counterpart. The real Mike Rezendes was blown away by his style apparently the first time that they had met. Ruffalo just feels like a person who cares a lot about the situation and you can see it wear on him throughout the whole film until he explodes from the pressure. I hope Ruffalo picks more roles like this because he’s truly enjoyable and fun to watch on screen.
The rest of the film is about balance which is a little crazy to understand considering the film is about journalism and the Catholic Church. An easy example of this balance comes from the contact of Marty Baron, the new editor, and Ben Bradley Jr. Bardley walks in with arrogance and prowess to him. Baron lurks around and has a subtle confidence to him. Baron and Bradley should bump heads, but the way that respects each other like in a real office setting just makes this film seem even more realistic. I had to remind myself several times that this movie was not a documentary because of how all of the characters were so human. . Caroll, played by Brian d’Arcy James is another journalist on the Spotlight team that sometimes get lost. But his character is a very subdued and relaxed journalist who does his work. He has feelings and emotions. James does a great job subtly showing in a nuanced way instead of screaming, “THIS IS TERRIBLE”. He does a good job in balancing with whoever he is in contact with, whether it is being the rational side to Ruffalo or letting McAdams prove herself.
This film is really about the progression of Robby (Keaton). Keaton is the leader of the team and the natural star of the film. The story really does revolve around him as we learn about how the newspaper has been covering the story up and Keaton’s role in all of it. I was blown away by his performance. He knows he’s the star, but a leader. A leader in this situation knows how to control the team and control what is being said. He knows what needs to be done and who to go to when the going gets tough. Keaton has had two great years in film and I hope he continues. His range can be shown just between Birdman and this film, Spotlight. Keaton is the calm presence that every film can use to an extent. I’m super excited to see what project he picks next.
Overall, this film is well directed with great stylized choices. Each actor does their role in a big way. I won’t say that the film is perfect because none truly is. This might be as close to perfect as you can get. This is my pick for best picture at the Oscars.