Length: 128 minutes / 2.13 hours
For many years, the running joke about the movies that have won the Best Picture Oscar is that they only won because another film should have won years prior. Spotlight (2015) is this generation’s All the President’s Men (1976) in that it is an excellent film about investigative journalism that broke open a huge cover-up, changing the world forever. Both films deserved to be Best Picture, but Spotlight manages to take an uncomfortable subject and be frank and open about the problems that we still see in today’s society.
Since most of the movie is comprised of uncovering the truth behind the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, it’s surprising how gripping and well-paced the film ends up being. Part of the genius of this film is the high-energy dedication these four journalists have in uncovering the terrifying truths that had been lurking in the shadows for decades. While such a subject could easily create a bias, this film manages to take an almost unbiased approach in its search for the depth of the problem that most people would ignore to keep the status quo. The tension created with each subsequent twist and turn of the investigation keeps the audience wondering how much further the corruption can go.
The impact of Spotlight deserves to be recognized, which is why I am glad that it won Best Picture for 2015. While intrinsically simple, this film delivers a powerful, emotional punch without relying on hackneyed methods to pull at the heartstrings of its viewers. Upon a second viewing a few years later, I was able to notice more of the menacing subtlety of the churches and cathedrals placed conveniently near playgrounds, schools, and other child-friendly zones. That is the brilliance of this movie: knowing the threat, but also knowing how many people are unaware of it.
An excellent film that asks the hard questions of the status quo, I give Spotlight 5.0 stars out of 5.