Best Picture Oscars have always been contentious. Whilst sometimes the best picture of the year is celebrate, more often than not voters succumb to cinematic bait that is broiling with “current themes” such as racism, sexual abuse, or a “true story.” So for every genuine winner such as Silence of The Lambs and 12 Years A Slave, there are heaps of How Green is My Valley?, Crash, and Argo-s grab the accolades and we’ve sat there like this:
This year was exactly the same. Spotlight’s Best Picture win against the likes of Room, Bridge of Spies, and the clear winner, Mad Max: Fury Road, was polemical at best. It’s not to say that Spotlight is a bad film. But should it be celebrated as an original, provocative, stunning, and game-changing movie? The best of the year?
I don’t think so.
Spotlight revolves around a group of journalists who investigate an accusation that there is child abuse within the Catholic Church and the powers at be covered it up, sending the perpetrators to different churches for the whole cycle to start again. When the numbers and the stories start mounting up, the journalists realise that the issue may be nationwide. Hell, maybe even worldwide. However, the minute they wish to go public with their little discover, the more problems they face – going against one of the biggest corporations in America – religion.
Directed and written by Tom McCarthy, Spotlight was indeed a quietly dramatic and brooding film that uncovered the lies and the depth the Church went to protect its reputation. Stirred by the determination of the reporters and the courage of the survivors who need the truth out there, Spotlight agonises with this journalistic journey and powerfully hits the audience. Led by stellar acting Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Rachel McAdams, Spotlight thrills with its intellectual exploration of finding the shocking truth of the story.
The biggest problem with Spotlight is the safety of it all. By no means is this Best Original Script worthy of the mantel. For a start, it is actually based off a true story and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist report. And seconding, not one iota of the film is fleshed out with a unique flare. As great as the acting and triumphant as the film is, the echo of All the President’s Men and any movie focused on journalism rung throughout the entirety of Spotlight. Comparatively to Ex Machina and Inside Out, McCarthy’s work never fleshes out beyond then narrative and becomes quite dull and garishly so.
To be fair to the drama, the quiet work led by impassioned performances does make it a powerful and provocative movie and has one of the best scores of the year, eloquently written by Howard Shore. The greatness comes from this shocking and true story that is captured highly well by all involved. The film hits your discomfort and shocks you with the idea that a child’s safety is second to the reputation of priests and the Church. In fact, the worst ideal here is that folks you thought you trusted – teachers, vicars, police, and authorities – allowed children to get abused and hide it.
As indignant as I can get that Spotlight scooped up the best picture, I should be more vehemently mad that generations of children have had their innocence, trust, and lives taken from them. That is what we should all be angry about.
SPOTLIGHT IS OUT ON DVD AND BLU-RAY NOW!