February 11, 2016
Initially, I feared that maybe "Spotlight" may not be shown in local theaters. This would be despite all its acclaim and awards buzz it has been receiving, not the least of which are the 6 Oscar categories (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing) for which it had been nominated. The film painted the Catholic Church in a very bad light so it was highly probable that there would be a lobby to ban the showing of this controversial film. But fortunately that was not the case, it was shown locally after all (rated appropriately as R-16), opening on an Ash Wednesday of all days.
While the underlying issue in "Spotlight" was about child-molesting Catholic priests and how the all-powerful hierarchy (both religious and legal) was covering up for them, but this was not exactly what the film was about. The main focus is really on a group of newspapermen from the Boston Globe called "Spotlight" and their remarkable tenacity and boldness in researching, writing and publishing this contemptible scandal to the public.
This film had won Outstanding Performance by a Cast in the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and rightly so. Their fluid ensemble acting was amazing to witness on that screen. While only Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams earned Oscar nods as supporting performers, but really it was a grand team effort to pull this through. Michael Keaton and Stanley Tucci also turn in admirable work as usual of them. There were no scenes with excessive histrionics, no illnesses, no physical deformities, no deaths or any other highlight that shouts "great acting". Instead, the performances of all these actors were simply able to realistically convey the passion, anger, and frustration experienced by intrepid investigative reporters in the line of their duty.
Aside from the acting, the film is a director's showcase. Directing a film involves the formation of an artistic vision based on the script on hand, then guiding the cast and crew into realizing that vision. For a film like this which is all complex talk, it is up to the director to create excitement and tension as he controls those critical aspects of pacing, sequencing and editing. In the hands of a lesser director, this could well have been a boring and uninteresting. However, director Tom McCarthy managed to wrestle the contentiously difficult material of "Spotlight" and translate it into a vivid, engaging and very thrilling film. 9/10.