(spoiler free)

For a while each year I always have a few outstanding Best Picture Oscar nominees to catch up on after the nominations are announced. A couple of weeks ago I caught the brilliant ‘Room’ and after that I was just left with ‘The Big Short’ and ‘Spotlight’. Two films which I have been constantly confusing the casts of as there is almost an ensemble feel to both of them. ‘The Big Short’ was out last week here in the UK and ‘Spotlight’ followed this week, so at last I’m fully up to date with the potential Best Picture winners this year. Should ‘Spotlight’ be in amongst the contenders though?

Initially I thought possibly not, the film is a little slow to find its feet and due to its fast paced journalism setting and the constant throwing around of several names/cases/stories at once it was a tad challenging to keep up. This however really does not last long and as the credits role, you’ll forget about this entirely (unless you are writing a review).  The film focuses on the incredible true story of the ‘Spotlight’ team, from the Boston Globe newspaper, attempting to uncover years of abuse from the Catholic Church. This turned out to be a very interesting and engaging topic. When stripped back to it’s core ‘Spotlight’ is an investigation movie, it’s like a police drama except with journalists instead of detectives. This is definitely a different dynamic as of course journalists don’t have the same authority as police detectives and because of this it worked so well. It was great to see the team of characters maneuver through their obstacles, when they couldn’t quite achieve everything you felt their frustration and when they do succeed in individual tasks you celebrate with them. I felt like I was part of the investigation, it was like I was on the team. There really were a lot of elements to this story and the film touches on them all so well. It offers many different perspectives which is why it succeeds in being so enthralling. The entire narrative is tied together wonderfully by a piano heavy score which is quietly present in the background for most of the film but becomes loud and noticeable when the movie needs an injection of pace meaning that the music was very effective.

The cast has a lot to be thanked for in making the film so engaging. It’s largely down to their performances that cause the audience to be really dragged into the film. Michael Keaton continues from his Oscar success and seeming revival last year to star in another brilliant movie with a solid performance, shinning in moments. It’s great to see Rachael McAdams continue her good selection of roles here too which have now seemed to take a turnaround after last years ‘Southpaw’. Before this she hadn’t been in that many memorable roles in recent years and she is a talented actress so it’s great to watch her perform so well here. There are plenty of other big names in the movie too including the always brilliant Stanley Tucci and Liev Schreiber but the actor who stands far and above the rest is Mark Ruffalo. When I saw that he had been nominated for Best Supporting Actor I didn’t really take much notice of it, I struggled to imagine how a role like this could warrant a nomination. Well Ruffalo is just brilliant here, this guy just goes from strength to strength and I’m not even talking about his performances as the Hulk. Last year he arguably gave the best performance amongst a trio of fine actors in ‘Foxcatcher’ and here he becomes his character so brilliantly and consistently throughout the film. I really thought that he was a lead actor here, he certainly was my favourite thing about the film and I now see the Supporting Actor category as a no brainer as he has to win this award!     

‘Spotlight’ deals with an incredibly sinister true story and it handles it in a way similar to the real life investigation it’s depicting sparring no details. With such an interesting subject the film probably could have ended up being good just with that. ‘Spotlight’ really treats us though, with a wonderful score and a fantastic cast the film becomes great and it’s clear to see why it’s got the Academy’s attention. 

Rating – 9/10

Thanks for reading this review and please let me know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop me a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.


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