It’s a rare feat for a movie covering important, socially relevant themes to also be so thoroughly entertaining. ‘Spotlight’ pulls this off with its intelligent script and probably the most effectively used ensemble cast of any movie this year. ‘Spotlight’ is the true story, focused on a small but tenacious team of investigative reporters at The Boston Globe (yep, a newspaper. Anyone else remember those?) who, in 2001, uncovered a story of wide-scale child molestation and abuse within the Catholic Church and the systematic cover-up by the Boston Archdiocese.
Effective on many levels, this movie makes the audience feel a visceral sense of urgency, not only for the team to meet their story deadline demands in this almost-gone print news era, but also for the many children’s lives that are put at risk by predatory priests and the protective church. Providing an authentic recreation of the local atmosphere is another of the films strengths, reminding us of a time when there was a sometimes-blind reverence for the church, coupled with unwillingness for victims to come forward due to shame or fear of repercussions.
The standout cast is led by Michael Keaton, last year’s Oscar winner, who’s most likely to be in the discussion again this year based on his great performance here, but every supporting performance is pitch perfect. Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams are fantastic as the beating heart of the Spotlight team, portraying young, earnest reporters making their mark. Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup (lawyers mired in the system), Liev Schreiber and John Slattery (Boston Globe editorial mangers) all are stellar and make ‘Spotlight’ one of the year’s best that shouldn’t be missed.