The true art of investigative journalism is very hard to find anymore due to the online world. Anyone can start writing editorial and opinion articles and publish them for anyone to find… this movie blog is a prime example. I’m not Roger Ebert and 99.9% of bloggers won’t be and 99.9% of editorial blogs won’t turn into Woodward and Bernstein. It’s a refreshing thing to know that there are still dedicated journalists working in the world, seeking the truth behind stories that people need to know.
Movies about great journalism are not uncommon and always tend to be compelling and wildly well received, look at All The Presidents Men and Good Night And Good Luck just to name two. This year movie fans have the privilege of another one to put on that mantel. Spotlight is the story of how a special 4 man investigative team working at The Boston Globe to uncover some of the biggest cover ups a city has ever known. It was discovered that for decades that the Catholic Church in Boston secretly settled cases of child molestation and keeping it out of the press. The Globe would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for its investigation into the scandal.
The film begins with the hiring of Marty Baron, played excellently by the always underrated Liev Schreiber. Baron is the new executive editor of The Globe and a small column piece peaks his interest and asks the spotlight team to investigate. As the layers of the onion start to peel away the stronger the stench becomes impossible to ignore. As the team is on the cusp of breaking the biggest story of the century, or so they think, the actual biggest story happens when two planes slammed themselves into two of the most recognizable buildings in any skyline. Despite the tragic events of 9/11, the spotlight team resumes their research the first available second they get. After things settle the biggest pieces of the puzzle fall into place and these 4 reports shock the world.
The brilliance of this film is as much the acting ensemble as it is the representation of the cast to show the dedication and work these reporters put into their jobs. When the real life reporters saw the film many of them remarked how “it was like watching a mirror” when they saw their performances. This cast is made up of some of the best actors working, they are also some of the least recognized for their work. For a major cast of at least 5 well known actors in lead or supporting actors there is only 4 Oscar nominations on the ENTIRE cast (not including Richard Jenkins, who has the role of a voice on a phone and is uncredited) 2 of those nominations belong to Mark Ruffalo alone.
Mark Ruffalo’s performance very well, maybe the highlight of the cast. The intensity he brings to the screen will get your heart racing. Michael Keaton and Liev Schriber also deliver very noteworthy representations of their counterparts. The most compelling thing is that the cast feels as passionate about telling the story accurately as the reporters were in telling the truth for the people of their city and the victims that needed a voice.
Spotlight may or may not take home a slew of awards this season, but I don’t think that will define the movie as time goes on. Those other films I mentioned, All The Presidents Men (which features Jason Robards playing Ben Bradlee Sr. And Spotlight features his son Ben Bradlee Jr. Played by Jon Slattery) and Good Night And Good Luck are films that are living on and get more highly respected as they receive new viewers.
True journalism is most definitely lost, and unfortunately people like myself with self published blogs drown out the voices that most need to be heard for societies benefit. On the other hand, this medium just might break the next Pulitzer Prize winning case.