Going into Spotlight I didn't know what to expect. While I had heard whisperings here and there about the all-star cast and an interesting plot, but nothing could have prepared me to be so engrossed in this film. The Tom McCarthy penned and directed film stands out as an absolute feat in filmmaking, and is not to be missed.
Spotlight focuses on the Pulitzer Prize-winning true story behind the "Spotlight" team of the The Boston Globe, who worked furiously to uncover truth behind one of the most shocking scandals in recent history: the sex abuse scandal of the Massachusetts Catholic church.
Much of Spotlight has the same conventions as any investigatory journalism film, but outshines its competition at every turn. With a number of lengthy discussions and a somewhat dreary setting, it still finds a way to be light and heady enough to electrify the screen.
With a cast that includes the likes of Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, and Stanley Tucci, the performances were clearly excellent. However, there was a subtly, a realness, to each of their characters that elevates them from good to amazing.
Ruffalo, for instance, completely transforms as Mike Rezendes, with a new voice, posture, and ticks that seem to have always been a part of his character. Stanley Tucci's portrayal fo the idiosyncratic attorney Mitchell Garabedian speaks in earnest to his credibility as an actor.
Liev Schreiber, who plays the Boston Globe editor Marty Baron, is potent in few words and expressions. Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdam's character transformations occur slowly, and their languid path to the truth feels emotionally exhausting, like swimming against the tide.
Their characters each face a moment of revelation and struggle to find their own means of coping with a hard truth they all ignored for so long. One of Ruffalo's scenes in particular exemplifies this with an instance of passionate ferocity, brought on by a childlike vulnerability and powerlessness, flagging him as a clear contender for the Best Supporting Actor category of the Academy Awards.
Although the script has few moments of heated dialogue that will truly rouse audiences, the entire film is peppered with enough tempered intensity to keep you on the edge of your seat. Don't go in expecting any twists and turns, because the straightforward nature of this story delivers without having to be flashy.
Much like the journalistic integrity the characters grapple with, Spotlight tells a real story in its truest form. It's honest, gritty, intense, and will stimulate important, thought-provoking discussions. You'll be thinking about it long after you leave the theater.
In short, Spotlight is one of the best movies of 2015, if not the best.