Academy Awards Movie Review: Spotlight

Alex’s Rating: 5/5

It is hard to find any flaws while watching this film. The acting is superb, but isn’t the focus of the film, the cinematography is elegant, but is only a complimentary element. What makes Spotlight the favourite to win Best Picture is the fact that the story is so strong. Often when films are based on true events, they sometimes lack the depth to carry a two-hour film. This is not the case with Spotlight. There is so much to explore and examine within the film, and there are never any lulls or low points. From start to finish it is a strong mix of entertainment and intrigue, with strong journalism rising above the corruption and secrecy of Boston’s Catholic Church.

There are not many times that I leave a film with few if any questions or criticisms, but after watching this movie, I am at a loss. The one thing I will say about this film is that I felt there could have been a bigger breakthrough within the film, that eureka moment could have been a bit louder and played a bit longer. However, the characters in the film, like all good journalists, go right back to the grind, no matter what happened yesterday.

There were a number of great visual scenes in this film. Each shot had multiple layers, providing a sense of depth, but a few really stood out. Each showcased in its own way that the victims of the assaults had their lives ruined because of chance circumstances. The most powerful scene was when Brian D’Arcy James’ character was looking through a registry and identifying locations of housing centres for priests accused of molesting children, only to realize there was in his neighborhood. As he discovers this, he runs out of his door, around the block and is faced with the unassuming house. That scene encapsulated the idea that anyone could have been a victim, including his own children.

There is a great cast in this movie. Led by Michael Keaton, each actor delivers a strong performance, no matter the amount of screen time they are given. While the cast is first-rate, the film is less about great acting than the compelling story. The only scene that really stood out for its acting came from Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo, when they argued about when to publish their first story. Other than that, it was the lines, not how they were delivered, that audiences will remember.

It will be interesting to see where Michael Keaton goes from here. This film is a favourite to win Best Picture and if that happens, he will have been the lead in Best Picture winners in two consecutive years. He is clearly back in the spotlight (pun intended) and can continue his run as an Oscar-worthy lead.

This film will stand the test of time. It will join All the President’s Men as a classic to be admired ,and to showcase an accurate view of strong journalism. The film focuses on more than just a response to the molestation of children; it explores the ideas of journalistic integrity, when it is right to inform the public, when to report and when to dig deeper.

Overall, this movie has to be the heavy favourite going into the Academy Awards, and with good reason. It is exceptionally well done, the story is compelling and complex, the cast is strong, and each element works together seamlessly. This movie will be talked about for years to come and will become the new standard against which journalism-based movies are judged.


About the author  ⁄ Alex Smyth

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