Spotlight, the 2016 Best Picture, tells the story of the brave journalists who researched the Catholic Church’s pedophilic priests. The film stars one of the greatest movie ensembles of all cinema history, with every character serving his/her purpose while remaining compelling and offering something unique to the movie. The film also has a fantastic screenplay by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy which puts the journalists in a very unique light. The film doesn’t paint the journalists as gladiators or superheroes, but rather tells the story the way it was and let’s the real characters shine as heroes.
The ensemble cast is absolutely the best part of this film and each individual actor or actress is fantastic with no real weakest link. In the real spotlight is Mark Ruffalo as the overexcited and flawed Mike Rezendes. Ruffalo’s portrayal is a wonderful rollercoaster as he captivates the audience brilliantly and manages to get the viewer to care as much as he does. Rachel McAdams plays the torn Sacha Pfeiffer, who is torn between her Catholic family and the importance of this news story. McAdams, though not as prominent as Ruffalo, also brings some very interesting and emotional moments to the film, most notably the scenes in which McAdams is interviewing victims and culprits. Michael Keaton plays the almost Shakesperean character that is Walter Robinson, who leads the group of journalists and has a dramtic reveal in the end. This is the second consecutive year in which Keaton proves his dramatic chops with this very nuanced and well-flavored portrayal.
Liev Schreiber and John Slattery plays two of the newspaper’s executives who also get involved in breaking this news story. I really think Schreiber and Slattery go hand in hand as they manage to play the two sides of the narrative, with Schreiber being new to the paper and bringing the viewer with him, and Slattery as the experienced and wise character who guides the audience. These two actors also do wonderfully and despite their smaller parts make their unique mark on the movie. Brian d’Arcy James, the musical theatre God, also plays a fairly meaty part in this film and carries the most intense and thought-provoking scene of the film. The scene in which d’Arcy James’ character realizes one of his neighbors was guilty of child abuse as well, which really proved the point: these are ordinary people doing monstrous things. Stanley Tucci also has a role as the peculiar lawyer who teams up with the journalists. Tucci plays this qite peculiar role really well, and despite his small role makes a larger impact on the film with his dramatic dominion.
The film also has a wonderful screenplay that really fully understands its audience and doesn’t dumb anything down while still keeping most of the legal matters comprehensible to non-lawyers. The screenplay also features a deep-routed understanding for its subject matter and characters. The screenplay also manages to keep the drama cutting-edge and ultimately thrilling. The direction is also splendid and has a splendid understanding and portrayal of the characters. The worst part of this film however is the costume design and production design. The whole film is made up of white on white shots that get boring in the long run, and although the film went for a more natural feel, the color schemes really could have been more interesting. The scorea and cinematography were also plain and dull and seem to bring the film down a few notches which is really sad.
This film is a wonderful film with great acting, directing, and writing. The film understands its subject matter in a way that very few films truly do and manages to make the audience understand it as well The only places where the film seems to falter is in the technical and design department, but that is made up for by all the other wonderful aspects of this film.
Best Aspect- Brian d’Arcy James
Worst Aspect- White on white color pallet