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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tom McCarthy|
|Music by||Howard Shore|
|Edited by||Tom McArdle|
|Distributed by||Open Road Films|
|Box office||$54.3 million|
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 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 real 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.
Spotlight was shown in the Out of Competition section of the 72nd Venice International Film Festival. It was also shown at the Telluride Film Festival and the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. The film was released on November 6, 2015, byOpen Road Films. It won numerous guilds and critics' association awards, and was named one of the finest films of 2015 by various publications. It is nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Film Editing, Best Supporting Actor (Ruffalo), Best Supporting Actress (McAdams), Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture.
In 2001, The Boston Globe hires a new editor, Marty Baron. Baron meets Walter "Robby" Robinson, the editor of the Spotlight team, a small group of journalists writing investigative articles that take months to research and publish. After Baron reads a Globe column about a lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, who says that Cardinal Law (the Archbishop of Boston) knew that the priest John Geoghan was sexually abusing children and did nothing to stop him, he urges the Spotlight team to investigate. 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.
Initially believing that they are following the story of one priest who was moved around several times, 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. Through a man who heads a victim's rights organization, they widen their search to thirteen priests. They learn through an ex-priest who worked 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. When the September 11 attacks occur, the team is forced to deprioritize the story. They regain momentum when Rezendes learns from Garabedian that there are publicly available documents that confirmCardinal Law was aware of the problem and ignored it. After The Boston Globe wins a case to have even more legal documents unsealed, the Spotlight Team finally begins to write the story, and plan to publish their findings in early 2002.
As they are about to go to print, Robinson confesses to the team that he was sent a list of twenty 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 goes to print with a link leading to the documents that expose Cardinal Law, and a phone number requesting victims of pedophile priests to come forward. The following morning, the Spotlight team is inundated with phone calls from victims coming forward to tell their stories. 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.
The Spotlight Team
- Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes
- Michael Keaton as Walter "Robby" Robinson
- Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer
- Liev Schreiber as Marty Baron
- John Slattery as Ben Bradlee Jr.
- Brian d'Arcy James as Matt Carroll
- Stanley Tucci as Mitchell Garabedian, attorney
- Gene Amoroso as Stephen Kurkjian, Boston Globe general investigative reporter
- Jamey Sheridan as Jim Sullivan, an attorney representing the Church
- Billy Crudup as Eric MacLeish, an attorney
- Maureen Keiller as Eileen McNamara, Boston Globe columnist
- Richard Jenkins as Richard Sipe, psychotherapist (telephone voice, uncredited)
- Paul Guilfoyle as Peter Conley
- Len Cariou as Bernard Cardinal Law
- Neal Huff as Phil Saviano of SNAP
- Michael Cyril Creighton as Joe Crowley
- Laurie Heineman as Judge Constance Sweeney
|This section requires expansionwith: overview. (December 2015)|
McCarthy and Singer completed the script in June 2013. It was listed on the 2013 Black List of unproduced screenplays. Singer told Creative Screenwriting that one of his goals for the film was to highlight the power of journalism, which he feels has been waning. He explained, "This story isn’t about exposing the Catholic Church. We were not on some mission to rattle people’s faith. In fact, Tom came from a Catholic family. The motive was to tell the story accurately while showing the power of the newsroom – something that’s largely disappeared today. This story is important. Journalism is important, and there is a deeper message in the story."
Principal photography began on September 24, 2014, in Boston, Massachusetts and continued in October in Hamilton, Ontario. Filming took place at Fenway Park, The Boston Globeoffices in Dorchester, Boston, the Boston Public Library, and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. The film's editor Tom McArdle said of the post-production process "We edited for eight months. We just wanted to keep refining the film. We cut out five scenes plus some segments of other scenes. Often we would just cut out a line or two to make a scene a little tighter."
The film "premiered to sustained applause" at the Venice Film Festival and the audience "erupted in laughter" when the film reported that following the events in the film Cardinal Bernard Law was reassigned to a senior position of honor in Rome. It had a limited release on November 6, 2015, with its nationwide release scheduled for three weeks later on November 25.
As of February 16, 2016, Spotlight has grossed $37.3 million in North America and $16.1 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $53.5 million, against a budget of $20 million.
In the opening weekend of its limited release, the film grossed $295,009 from five theaters ($59,002 average), one of the highest per-screen averages of any release of 2015. The film grossed $4.5 million in the first weekend during its wide release, finishing 8th at the box office.
On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes the film holds a rating of 93%, based on 250 reviews, with an average rating of 8.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Spotlight gracefully handles the lurid details of its fact-based story while resisting the temptation to lionize its heroes, resulting in a drama that honors the audience as well as its real-life subjects." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 93 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "universal acclaim."
Variety's Justin Chang called the film "a superbly controlled and engrossingly detailed account of the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into the widespread pedophilia scandals and subsequent cover-ups within the Catholic Church".
At the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, Spotlight finished third in the audience balloting for the People's Choice Award.
Reactions from the Catholic Church
Cardinal Sean O'Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston said Spotlight illustrates how the newspaper's reports prompted the church "to deal with what was shameful and hidden." Vatican Radio, official radio service of the Holy See, called it "honest" and "compelling" and said it helped the U.S. Catholic Church "to accept fully the sin, to admit it publicly, and to pay all the consequences." Luca Pellegrini on the Vatican Radio website wrote that the Globe reporters "made themselves examples of their most pure vocation, that of finding the facts, verifying sources, and making themselves—for the good of the community and of a city—paladins of the need for justice." In February 2016, a Vatican City commission on clerical sex abuse attended a private screening of the film.
A January 8, 2016 article in The New York Times cited a detractor of the film who said that Spotlight "is a misrepresentation of how the Church dealt with sexual abuse cases," asserting that the movie's biggest flaw was its failure to portray psychologists who had assured Church officials that abusive priests could be safely returned to ministry after undergoing therapy treatments. Open Road Films rebutted the detractor, saying he was "perpetuating a myth in order to distract from real stories of abuse."
Controversy over portrayal of Jack Dunn
The film was attacked by Jack Dunn (played by Gary Galone in the film), a member of the board at Boston College High School, and its public relations head, for portraying him as indifferent to the scandal. After viewing the film, Dunn says he actually was immediately aware of the issues involved and worked to respond. Two of the Globe reporters depicted in the film, Walter Robinson and Sacha Pfeiffer, issued a statement in response to Dunn, firmly standing by their recollections of the day, saying Dunn did "his best to frame a story in the most favorable way possible for the institution he is representing. That’s what Jack did that day.” They said Dunn mounted a "spirited public relations defense of Boston College High School during our first sit-down interview at the school in early 2002", the lone scene in which Dunn is depicted in the film.
Main article: List of accolades received by Spotlight (film)
Spotlight has been critically acclaimed, and has been included in many critics' Top Ten Films of 2015 lists. The film has received over 100 industry and critics awards and nominations. TheAmerican Film Institute selected Spotlight as one of the Top Ten Films of the year. The film garnered three Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director for McCarthy, and Best Screenplay for McCarthy and Josh Singer. It was nominated for five Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay for Singer, Best Editing for Tom McArdle and Honorary Robert Altman Award for the cast. Rachel McAdams and the ensemble cast received Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Roleand Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, respectively.
The New York Film Critics Circle awarded Michael Keaton Best Actor award, while it won the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Ensemble cast at New York Film Critics Online Awards. Spotlight won the Best Film and Best Screenplay from Los Angeles Film Critics Association. It received eight nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, includingBest Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Score. It won the Best Cast in a Motion Picture at Satellite Awards and was nominated for six other awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay.
Critics' top ten lists
Spotlight was listed on many critics'/publications'/organizations' top ten lists.
- 1st – Kate Erbland, Indiewire
- 1st – Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic
- 1st – Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
- 1st – Kiko Martinez, San Antonio Current
- 1st – Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly
- 1st – Christopher Orr, The Atlantic
- 1st – Rex Reed, New York Observer
- 1st – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
- 1st – Stephanie Zacharek, Time
- 1st – Yahoo! Movies
- 2nd – Alynda Wheat, People
- 2nd – TV Guide
- 3rd – Jeff Baker, The Oregonian
- 3rd – Stephen Holden, The New York Times
- 3rd – Inkoo Kang, TheWrap
- 3rd – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair
- 3rd – A. O. Scott, The New York Times
- 4th – Liz Shannon Miller, Indiewire
- 5th – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
- 6th – David Edelstein, Vulture
- 6th – Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out
- 7th – Nick Schager, Village Voice
- 7th – Sam Weisberg, Village Voice
- 7th – Film Comment (critics' poll)
- 8th – John Powers, Vogue
- 8th – The Playlist
- 9th – Alonso Duralde, TheWrap
- 9th – Ben Travers, Indiewire
- Top 10 (ranked alphabetically) – Dana Harris, Indiewire
- Top 10 (ranked alphabetically) – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
- Top 10 (ranked alphabetically) – Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer
- Top 10 (ranked alphabetically) – Dana Stevens, Slate
- Top 10 (ranked alphabetically) – American Film Institute
- Top 10 (ranked alphabetically) – National Board of Review
- "SPOTLIGHT (15)". British Board of Film Classification. October 27, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
- "Watching the Watchers: Tom McCarthy on Making Spotlight". Vulture.com. Retrieved November 7, 2015.
- "Spotlight (2015)". Box Office Mojo. RetrievedFebruary 21, 2016.
- Siegel, Tatiana (August 8, 2014). "Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton in Talks for Catholic Priest Sex Abuse Scandal Film". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 16,2014.
- "Participant Media’s "Spotlight" Starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel Mcadams, Liev Schreiber And Stanley Tucci Goes To Camera In Boston Before Lensing In Toronto". 3BL Media. September 25, 2014. RetrievedSeptember 25, 2014.
- Allen, Scott (June 22, 2012). "A distinguished history of digging up the truth". Boston Globe. Retrieved February 27,2015.
- "The Pulitzer Prizes | Citation". Pulitzer.org. RetrievedJune 11, 2015.
- Sneider, Jeff (August 8, 2014). "Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams in Talks to Star in Catholic Church Sex Scandal Drama (Exclusive)". TheWrap. RetrievedSeptember 16, 2014.
- Shanahan, Mark (September 3, 2015). "‘Spotlight’ gets glittering debut in Venice". Boston Globe. RetrievedNovember 7, 2015.
- "Toronto to open with 'Demolition'; world premieres for 'Trumbo', 'The Program'". ScreenDaily. July 28, 2015. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
- Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (September 16, 2014). "Mark Ruffalo visits the Globe". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
- Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (August 11, 2014)."Report: Globe Spotlight movie gets a cast". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
- Siegel, Tatiana; Kit, Borys (August 27, 2014). "Billy Crudup in Talks for Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal Film 'Spotlight' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. RetrievedSeptember 16, 2014.
- "Brian d'Arcy James Joins Boston Priest Pedophile Drama SPOTLIGHT". Broadway World. September 12, 2014. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
- Juul, Matt (September 26, 2014). "‘Spotlight’ Actors Spotted at Fenway Park". The Boston Globe. RetrievedSeptember 26, 2014.
- Siegemund-Broka, Austin (September 25, 2014). "John Slattery, 'Homeland' Alum Join Catholic Sex Abuse Film 'Spotlight'". The Hollywood Reporter. RetrievedSeptember 25, 2014.
- Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (September 29, 2014). "'Spotlight' films at The Boston Globe". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
- Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (August 19, 2014)."‘Spotlight’ script tells the story of Globe series". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
- "Black List 2013: Full Screenplay List". Deadline.com. December 16, 2013. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
- Iacovetti, Carla (January 25, 2016). "Spotlight: The Burden of Truth". Creative Screenwriting. Retrieved January 26,2016.
- Juul, Matt (September 24, 2014). "Globe ‘Spotlight’ Movie Holding Open Casting Call". The Boston Globe. RetrievedSeptember 25, 2014.
- Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (September 26, 2014). "'Spotlight' filming at Fenway Park". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
- Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (September 30, 2014). "Rachel McAdams reporting for duty". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
- "Ruffalo, Tucci in Hamilton for Spotlight shoot". CHCH News. October 7, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
- "Spotlight Editor Tom McArdle In Conversation". Film Doctor. February 18th, 2016. Retrieved Feburary 18, 2016.Check date values in:
- D'Alessandro, Anthony. "Michael Keaton Mark Ruffalo Boston Globe Film ‘Spotlight’ Opens Nov. 6". Deadline. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
- D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 9, 2015). "‘Spectre’ $70.4M Opening: Still 2nd Highest 007 Debut Behind ‘Skyfall’, But Not That Far From ‘Quantum Of Solace’ – Monday AM".Deadline.com. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
- D'Alessandro, Anthony. "Katniss On Track For $78M-80M 5-Day; ‘Good Dinosaur’ Eyes $58M-$62M; ‘Creed’ Punching $39M-$42M". Deadline.com. Retrieved November 29,2015.
- "Spotlight (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. RetrievedJanuary 23, 2016.
- "Spotlight reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 25,2015.
- Chang, Justin (September 3, 2015). "Venice Film Review: "Spotlight"". Variety. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
- "Toronto International Film Festival Announces 2015 Award Winners" (PDF) (Press release). TIFF. September 20, 2015. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
The second runner up is Tom McCarthy's Spotlight.
- Wangsness, Lisa (October 29, 2015). "'Spotlight' shows how church was impelled to act, O'Malley says". Boston Globe. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
- Allen Jr., John (October 23, 2015). "Vatican Radio praises movie on Boston Globe coverage of clergy abuse". Crux. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
- Pellegrini, Luca (September 4, 2015). "A Venezia il film sulla pedofilia nella diocesi di Boston" (in Italian). RetrievedDecember 1, 2015.
- Kington, Tom (February 4, 2016). "Vatican panel kicks off meeting on sexual abuse by watching 'Spotlight'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
- Cieply, Michael (January 8, 2016). "Before the Oscars, Some Films Face the Truth Test". New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
- Muldoon, Tim (November 27, 2015). "'Spotlight' Reveals Sexual Abuse, But Misrepresents a Good Man". Aleteia. Retrieved November 30, 2015. Dunn was also the head of public relations for Boston College.
- Encarnacao, Jack (November 26, 2015). "Globe reporters defend portrayal of Jack Dunn in movie". Boston Herald. Retrieved November 30, 2015.
The scene depicts a fairly common exchange involving reporters who have unpleasant questions to ask and a skilled public relations person doing his best to frame a story in the most favorable way possible for the institution he is representing. That’s what Jack did that day.
- "Best of 2015: Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
- "Here Are the AFI AWARDS 2015 Official Selections". American Film Institute. December 16, 2015. RetrievedDecember 16, 2015.
- "Golden Globe Nominations: The Complete List". The Hollywood Reporter. December 10, 2015. RetrievedDecember 10, 2015.
- "'Carol,' 'Spotlight,' 'Beasts of No Nation' Lead Spirit Awards Nominations". Variety. November 24, 2015. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
- "SAG Awards Nominations: Complete List". Variety. December 9, 2015. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
- "'Carol' Takes Top Honors at New York Film Critics Awards". The Wall Street Journal. December 2, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
- "New York Film Critics Online Name ‘Spotlight’ Best Film of the Year". Variety. December 6, 2015. RetrievedDecember 8, 2015.
- "Critics' Choice Award Nominations Led by 'Mad Max,' 'Fargo'". Variety. December 14, 2015. RetrievedDecember 14, 2015.
- "2015 nominees". International Press Academy. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
- "Rex Reed: The 10 Best Films of 2015". New York Observer. December 23, 2015. Retrieved December 25,2015.
- Official website
- Spotlight at the Internet Movie Database
- Spotlight at Rotten Tomatoes
- "The story behind the 'Spotlight' movie" from The Boston Globe
- Spotlight at History vs. Hollywood
- Criticism of Spotlight at TheMediaReport.com