Spotlight is a 2015 American biographical drama film directed by Tom McCarthy and written by McCarthy and Josh Singer. The film follows The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative journalist unit in the United States, and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests. It is based on a series of stories by the actual Spotlight Team that earned The Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The film stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, and Billy Crudup.
It won numerous guilds and critics’ association awards, and was named one of the finest films of 2015 by various publications. The film received a total of six nominations at the 88th Academy Awards, winning two for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.
After the Boston Globe hires a new editor, Marty Baron, he meets up with Walter “Robby” Robinson, the editor of the Spotlight team, a small group of journalists writing investigative articles that take months to research and publish. They discuss an article in which a lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, who says that Cardinal Bernard Law (the Archbishop of Boston) knew that the priest John Geoghan was sexually abusing children and did nothing to stop him. Journalist Michael Rezendes contacts Garabedian, who initially declines interview. Though he is told not to, Rezendes reveals that he is on the Spotlight team, persuading Garabedian to talk. Although they initially believe that they are investigating the sexual crimes of just one man, the Spotlight team begin to uncover a pattern of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Massachusetts, and an ongoing cover-up by the Boston Archdiocese. After interviewing a former abuse survivour who now runs a victim rights organization, they start checking after 13 priests.
They learn through an ex-priest who worked at trying to rehabilitate pedophile priests that there should be approximately ninety abusive priests in Boston (six percent of priests). Through their research, they develop a list of eighty-seven names, and begin to find their victims to back up their suspicions. And then – 9/11 happens, putting off their investigations for a while as everyone focuses on the tragedy and the team is forced to deprioritize the story. Rezendes learns that the there are publicly available documents that confirm Cardinal Law was aware of the problem and ignored it. Although Rezendes argues vociferously to run the story immediately before more victims suffer and rival newspapers publish, Robinson remains steadfast to research further so the whole system that Law serves in this scandal can be exposed. After The Boston Globe wins a case to have even more legal documents unsealed that provides the evidence of that larger picture, the Spotlight team finally begins to write the story, and plan to publish their findings in early 2002, a little after New Year so as not to affect the public during the holidays.
While talking about the blame as to people and society that looks away despite the horrible crimes, Robinson confesses to the team that he was sent a list of 20 pedophile priests in 1993 in a story he never followed up on. Baron, nevertheless, tells Robinson and the team that the work they are doing is important. The story is printed with a link leading to a website that shows the documents that expose Cardinal Law, and a phone number requesting victims of pedophile priests to come forward. The next morning the Spotlight team has an avalanche of phone calls to attend from victims or families of victims who want to come forward. The film closes with a list of places in the United States and around the world where the Catholic Church has been involved in concealing abuse by priests.
Which is why I and many others say that the Vatican is nothing but a criminal organization, a powerful one at that, which covers it’s crimes and protects their pedophiles in their ranks. Cardinal Law was moved to a position in Rome, one of the most important ones for the Catholic church. Basically a promotion, for looking away when the priests when molesting kids. How depraved must you be?
Riveting and inspiring, the movie deserved it’s Oscar. Hope there are more movies like this. 9.5 outta 10!