“This city, these people… making the rest of us feel like we don’t belong. But they’re no better than us. Look at how they treat their children. Mark my words, Mr. Rezendes. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one,” says Mitchell Garabedian to Mike Rezendes.
For years, clergy in the Roman Catholic Church had been getting away with sexually molesting children. Allegations popped up once in a while, and the Church would settle these cases privately to avoid leaving a paper trail. The Spotlight investigative unit of the Boston Globe newspaper began investigating the allegations in Boston in 2001, and in January 2002, they published a number of articles that revealed how widespread and systemic the abuse was (the Boston Globe would earn the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service the following year). This led to the revelation of the cover-up of such abuse in multiple cities throughout the world. The story of the Spotlight reporters’ investigation would be the subject of Tom McCarthy’s newest film, Spotlight. I first saw Spotlight on the big screen a few months ago, and a second time more recently on the big screen. It was an incredible experience both times I saw it, and I knew it would be an Oscar contender after the first time I saw it.
2015’s Spotlight follows a group of Boston Globe reporters from the Spotlight unit as they investigate a large number of cases involving child sex abuse by Catholic priests in Boston. McCarthy brought together an excellent ensemble that includes Mark Ruffalo (as Mike Rezendes), Michael Keaton (as Walter “Robby” Robinson), Rachel McAdams (as Sacha Pfeiffer), Liev Schreiber (as Marty Baron), John Slattery (as Ben Bradlee Jr.), Brian D’Arcy James (as Matt Caroll), Stanley Tucci (as Mitchell Garabedian), Jamey Sheridan (as Jim Sullivan), Billy Crudup (as Eric MacLeish), Paul Guilfoyle (as Peter Conley), Len Cariou (as Cardinal Bernard Law), Gene Amoroso (as Stephen Kurkjian), Neal Huff (as Phil Saviano), Michael Cyril Creighton (as Joe Crowely), and Richard Jenkins (as the voice of Richard Sipe). Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Ruffalo is quirky and determined as Rezendes, and Keaton gives an understated performance as Spotlight editor Robby. Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee McAdams is understanding and thoughtful as Pfeiffer, and the rest of the cast shines as well, including Schreiber, James, Tucci, and Sheridan.
Best Director Oscar nominee McCarthy’s strong direction draws excellent performances and whose guidance helps make investigative journalism look exciting. The Oscar-winning original screenplay by McCarthy and Josh Singer balances an ensemble with the investigation into the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals in Boston. Masanobu Takayanagi’s subtle cinematography reflects the tone of the film, and his exterior shot compositions show the Church as another “character” in the film, looming over every institution and spying on playgrounds, government buildings, reporters trying to uncover the truth, etc. Stephen H. Carter’s production design faithfully recreates the offices of the Boston Globe, Tom McArdle’s Oscar-nominated editing gives the film an energetic pace, and Howard Shore delivers a low-key, dramatic score. McCarthy’s Best Picture Oscar winner Spotlight is an important film that shines a light on a very relevant subject that features excellent performances and an accurate depiction of investigative journalism.