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The true story of how The Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child abuse and the cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

Release Date:November 6, 2015
Genres:Drama, Thriller, History
Production Co.:Paramount Pictures, Participant Media, Anonymous Content, Rocklin / Faust, First Look Media
Production Countries:Canada, United States of America
Director:Tom McCarthy, Dug Rotstein, Jenna Dayton
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:child abuse, journalism, judge, florida, boston, pedophilia, court, cover-up, priest, lawyer, catholic, catholic church, catholicism, september 11 2001, investigative journalism, cardinal, christmas
Alternative Titles:
  • En primera plana - [AR]
  • 스포트라이트 - [KR]

Spotlight Reviews

  • One of the greatest horror films of all time
    by A_Different_Drummer on 23 December 2015

    236 out of 382 people found the following review useful:

    ... because by the time the credits roll and you start to breathe normally again, you will suddenly realize that this was not a horror film as such, this was a re-enactment of events that actually happened, with real victims and real perpetrators and real well-meaning third parties covering up the whole thing as fast as the body count kept piling up.

    And then you will once again have difficulty catching your breath.

    As a film it is superb. McCarthy who did double duty as writer and director deserves acknowledgement. The cast is universally excellent. Ruffalo gives the performance of his career, Keaton is solid as a rock, and McAdams reaps overdue dividends from her decision to broaden her career into non-glamorous roles at a time when the only scripts they were sending her were for Diva parts. Smart lady.

    A reviewer is not supposed to interject personal feelings in a review but I will say without apology that I miss films like these -- films that speak for the injustice in society and offer solutions -- and wish there were more of them. It seems that when I was younger there was a lot more interest in doing the right thing merely because it was the right thing. This no longer seems to be the societal meme, and that troubles me.

    A must-see.

  • Flat Out Remarkable! Possibly the Year's Best!
    by Clayton Davis ( on 19 September 2015

    245 out of 407 people found the following review useful:

    Seconds after the credits for Tom McCarthy's "Spotlight" roll, an overwhelming feeling of changing your career takes over. Is film criticism really where I belong? What important, life-changing story am I not writing about? Truth is, quite a bit of classic films give off that same feeling. "Rocky" made a bunch of our fathers and older brothers go for a morning run and drink raw eggs. "Rudy" made us want to go out and play Notre Dame football. "Spotlight" makes you want to go down to your local courthouse and search the public records for clues. Then, get on the phone, with a pen and a pad, and start asking some really tough questions. Honestly speaking, "Spotlight" is the best investigative news drama this century. Matter of fact, behind "All the President's Men" and maybe "The Insider," it's among the best ever made.

    "Spotlight" tells the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

    Where you must begin, with any praise for the film, is the audacious and fortifying script by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer. The two create cinematic magic in their articulation of words, characters, and narrative storytelling. Each person feels authentic. Each scene feels rich and equally important as the last. And most of all, its the tightest, most satisfying film from beginning to end, seen this year. From minute one, you're hooked, up until the last second, where they decide the last words spoken should be, "Spotlight" is astonishingly crafted.

    I'm still in shock and awe that Tom McCarthy is the one who made this. This is a writer/director who I've appreciated but didn't have the "love" factor surrounding any of his films. Paired with an outstanding cast, co-writer Josh Singer, editor Tom McArdle, cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi and composer Howard Shore, Tom McCarthy gets a chance to create his masterpiece…and succeeds. He makes brilliant artistic choices, such as letting a Mark Ruffalo letter reading play over a 2-minute taxi car ride back to the newspaper. McCarthy's direction is one of the best directorial efforts from any filmmaker this year thus far.

    All the players performing are top-notch but walking away, best-in- show, is the performance of Academy Award nominee Mark Ruffalo. Ruffalo exhibits his best screen performance to date, and makes a stake in his claim for the Oscar this year. Weirdly reminiscent of Joaquin Phoenix's work in "The Master," Ruffalo builds his 'Mike' from the feet up, giving him his own characteristics that I'm not sure McCarthy and Singer set out to do. His expressions in words, mannerisms, all encapsulate the magnitude of his work, bookended by an explosive scene that brought tears to my eyes. Think back to Emma Stone's acclaimed work in "Birdman," and the scene that made everyone notice. I wanted to simply applaud.

    Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams, who play "Robbie" and "Sacha" respectively, are attune with their characters and destinations. Each bring strong sensibilities and sensitivity to their roles that desperately call for them. Hotly worked into the story is Liev Schreiber as a newly appointed Editor, that in the little screen time he's given, makes a long-lasting impression. Stanley Tucci is also afforded the same opportunity, and gives one of the film's best monologues.

    If there's a film this year that feels like an Oscar-winner, "Spotlight" sure does make a compelling case. Dramatic, heart- pounding, and necessarily made. It's one of the most important films this year and probably THE BEST PICTURE OF THE YEAR. The Telluride tradition may continue.

  • Priests Secretly Committing Pederasty. An Award Winner Reality Movie.
    by HealthyLove on 14 February 2016

    127 out of 178 people found the following review useful:

    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, by Open 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: Mark Ruffalo, Best Supporting Actress: Rachel 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. 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 confirm Cardinal 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.

  • A movie that qualifies as strong meat a.k.a. be ready to digest a lot of reality and face the true face of a world unknown to people living in a happy bubble.
    by Miriam Se on 16 March 2016

    68 out of 85 people found the following review useful:

    This movie undid something inside of me. It's that part of you that holds on to hope that people can be good, that there is hope for humanity. I knew the basics of it when I went to watch it: that it is about investigative reporters looking into a story of abuse in the catholic church. And it uncovered so much more than just that. Honestly, this movie should be seen by anyone who seeks the true face of the world. We don't live in a pink bubble of happiness. F*cked up things happen to people all the time; worst thing is when it happens to the innocent. The little ones who can't protect themselves. When they are robbed of their faith and their hope and their future. Sitting in the film theatre on the last row, I was brought to tears as in front of me a long list of places where victims spoke out was scrolling. I was both shocked and mad. I felt sorry that people can fail so miserably. "Mike Rezendes: They knew and they let it happen! It could've been you, it could've been me, it could've been any of us." Indeed. When we witness darkness and we shut up and we don't do anything about it, that's when we fail. A poet once wrote, "You can join the millions talking in the dark. Or you can stand up and scream light, out into the night." So choose to stand up. In your profession choose to eradicate the oblivion of evil. This movie is a masterpiece. From the dedication of the actors to their roles, to the script, the director and the cinematography. The score? Fantastic. Howard Shore did it again!

  • Wonderful drama about the importance of investigative journalism
    by lrbhsr on 28 October 2015

    157 out of 282 people found the following review useful:

    Everything about this movie is outstanding -- the performances, the way the true events are handled, the cinematography. In this day of digital news, this movie makes us stand back and realize what we may lose in the way of investigative journalism as we slowly kill off print media.

    The lengths the directors go to to achieve a sense of authenticity is remarkable. We are there in Boston in 2001-2002. We get to know enough about each character to make him or her real, but not enough to create side dramas. The focus remains the child abuse scandal in the archdiocese in Boston. That reflects the conflict the characters face and deal with when events make them rethink the focus of their article.

    The movie is riveting, though we know the outcome.

  • It Could've Been You
    by trevorj-67694 on 25 March 2016

    45 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

    I've rated almost a hundred movies and I've only ever given out six 10s on this website. I don't rave about many movies and I am tough to please when it comes to film, but this film is absolute brilliance. It is flawless. This one earns its 10 and it is one of the best films I have ever seen.

    Everything about this film is brilliant. The camera work is great and the score is underrated. However, what makes this film is an absolutely genius screenplay that is acted to perfection. This script will rock your world. I am not Catholic. I didn't grow up in a deeply Catholic area, but this film still affected me greatly. Everyone should see this movie for that reason. That is something that you have to see for yourself.

    However, I'd like to focus a little more on the technical aspects. Beyond the fact that the subject matter is heavy and extremely important to American and world culture, this movie does everything else right. The acting is absolutely phenomenal. This is particularly true for Ruffalo and McAdams. I adore the subtlety with which they both act. It is brilliant. There isn't much more to say. This film is pure brilliance from its opening frame to its closing moment. For both cinematic and cultural reasons, this is a film that every person should see.

  • Catholic Church in the Spotlight.
    by Brendan de Vere on 3 February 2016

    26 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

    Relevant, powerful and astonishing. Shocking, criminal and true. These are the only words to describe this film as it has literally put the 'spotlight' on the systematic cover-up by the Catholic Church of mass molestation and sexual assault acts performed by the priests in the Boston archdiocese that were trusted in the communities they represented. These 'men of God' preyed on the weak and vulnerable for years and the most powerful religious sect in the world did nothing but sweep it under the proverbial carpet. 'Spotlight's' dramatic importance has immediately drawn the attention of film lovers who crave a riveting production that dives deep into a very real circumstance that has impacted every corner of the globe.

    Tom McCarthy could not have been at the helm of a better film and what he has been able to achieve in terms of wrestling the attentions of the audience is worthy of the highest praise. McCarthy, along with Josh Singer have written a gritty story that pulls no punches and it isn't afraid to get right into the heart of the required subject. For 'Spotlight' to have been received by the critics as well as it has it had to stride unapologetically into this unbelievable and sordid affair. It needed to expose the sensitive and controversial information that some people may find confronting but in the context of this outstanding production, absolutely essential. It destroyed lives and revealed the blatant arrogance of this pious organisation.

    The all star cast jumps right out at you even before the opening scenes are shot up onto the screen. Based on true events, 'Spotlight' pushes all the right buttons from the beginning. As the name implies, 'Spotlight' refers to the investigative journalism team who report for the Boston Globe newspaper. They are thorough, relentless and will stop at nothing to expose headline stories that affect the everyday lives of normal American's. When the new editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), drops a potentially explosive story in the lap of Spotlight chief, Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton), about allegations of sexual abuse involving the Catholic Church, Robinson and his loyal crew go about uncovering one of the greatest criminal cover-ups in human history. The deeper their investigation goes the more sadistic and shocking the outcome becomes. Fingers are pointed, people are accused and the list of clergy involved becomes larger and larger. The whole situation ceases to become a Boston problem and grows to a worldwide exposure. Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo are part of the investigative team as young committed journalists Sacha Pfeiffer and Mike Rezendes respectively. McAdams performance is award worthy and Ruffalo is fully engaged in a role that matches his talents. Michael Keaton has found his niche in Hollywood as a sort after mentor showcasing another strong performance as the tenacious and hard hitting Robinson. The real 'cherry' in the cast is the presence of the magnificent Stanley Tucci as Mitchell Garabedian who represents the victims in the whole saga. Tucci adds the class that takes 'Spotlight' to another level with an engrossingly accomplished performance.

    This is the best journalistic drama since 1976's 'All the President's Men'. Tom McCarthy has centred his narrative within the confines of the Boston Globe's newsroom as it should have been. 'Spotlight' doesn't shy away from the true nature of newspaper drama and the audience benefits from such an authentic setting. Top shelf acting from some of the very best young talent sparks the fire that captivates the viewer. Throw in some true icons in Keaton and Tucci and 'Spotlight' has the perfect balance. This film will be classified as the very best in its category and has set a benchmark in terms of confronting realism. Sit back and enjoy.

  • Super film
    by mrshev on 29 March 2016

    25 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

    It won best film, deservedly so. This is a film that resonated with me long after I watched it. The complicated tale of the investigation of paedophile priests in Boston and the publication of it is told in riveting fashion by Tom Macarthy who does not waste a frame or a scene to anything less than the plot or character development. I never felt the running time or in any way disbelieved any of the actors in their portrayals.

    Keaton seems to be on a total roll at the moment and he is excellent as the head of Spotlight but the whole ensemble seemed to put in a real shift. This felt like a documentary at times and I could feel the audience around me leaning forward as each new revelation is uttered.

    Just brilliant.

  • I Remembered Why I love Movies
    by lord-ashour on 21 January 2016

    28 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

    Throughout the year I watched many movies and by the middle of the year I was finding it hard to watch a movie. I really had to force my self. I thought my love for movies is dying and I'm more of a TV person now.

    I was wrong.

    This movie (and the big short) proved to me that it wasn't me, it was actually the movies I've seen this year.

    This movie has it's flaws for sure. But the acting, script, direction, design and pace of the movie adds a lot to an already strong and heart breaking story. I was on the edge of my seat and even after the movie ended I couldn't move for a while.

    A well made film that I recommend to any drama fan. It certainly helped me find my love for movies again.

    Even with it's flaws I give it a 9.5

  • All the Vatican's Men in Outstanding Investigative Journalism Film Revealing the Skeletons in the Boston Archdiocese's Closet
    by classicalsteve on 28 February 2016

    35 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

    In "All the President's Men", young reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered a national political scandal when they, through their investigative journalism, revealed the White House under then President Richard Nixon was using campaign funding to finance dirty tricks of political enemies, nicknamed Watergate. In "Spotlight", a similar team of investigative reporters reveal a scandal of epic proportions which makes much of the Watergate scandal seem tame by comparison. They uncovered widespread sexual abuse of minors committed by priests of the Roman Catholic Church who, in turn, hid the crimes. Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Walter V. Robinson (Michael Keaton), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Martin "Marty" Baron (Leiv Schreiber), Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery), and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James) work for a group of investigative reporters within the Boston Globe called "Spotlight" who succeed in finding the skeletons in the Boston Diocese proverbial closet. For many years prior to the sexual abuse scandal, Spotlight had investigated and reported on many other ground-breaking stories.

    The story begins with a quick flash-back to 1976 when a priest is jailed for sexual abusing a minor. The film then cuts to 2001. Marty Baron (Schreiber), a Jewish Floridian, becomes the main editor for the Boston Globe. He meets the different editors and journalists, and learns of work by Spotlight. A Globe column reveals a lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, claims Cardinal Law, then Archbishop of Boston, knew Father John Geoghan, a priest within Law's diocese, was sexually abusing children, and the bishop did not bring him to the attention of authorities. Baron urges the Spotlight team to investigate further to see whether the claim is true and an isolated incident, or if there is more to the story. The "seed" is similar to the break-in of the democratic headquarters at the Watergate Complex which eventually revealed the Nixon White House had been engaging in multiple plots against perceived political enemies.

    The Spotlight team is headed by Walter "Robby" Robinson (Keaton), a no-nonsense fair but tough reporter/editor. They agree to Baron's wishes and begin researching deeper to see if there is a larger story. Their first lead is the attorney mentioned in the article, Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci). Rezendes (Ruffalo) peruses Garabedian who acted as negotiator between the Boston Archdiocese and victims of Father Geoghan. The reporter wishes the attorney to reveal names of the victims, but at first Garabedian declines. Eventually, Garabedian agrees to contact victims, who are now much older, and ask them if they are willing to speak with Rezendes without revealing their names. Eventually, interviews are set up at the attorney's offices. The question then becomes whether there were other priests who engaged in similar criminal behavior against minors.

    On another front, other members of the team, including Sacha Pfeiffer (McAdams), begin discovering the unspeakable reality of other victims possibly at the hands of more priests, aside from Geoghan. Then a tip from a former rehabilitation counselor for priests informs the team that, based on statistics, there may be as many as 90 priests involved with sexual abuse of children in the Boston Area alone. The team then appropriates volumes of an American guide book of Roman Catholic priests, published once a year, which lists the whereabouts of every clergyman in the church in terms of dioceses and parishes. The investigators make a startling discovery. Certain names in the book over several years are listed as "on leave due to illness", "on administrative leave", or other designations of inactivity after only one to three years at a particular parish, leading the team to consider these may be priests who engaged in sexual misconduct with minors. If true, it would place blame not only on Cardinal Law as possibly covering up the church's indiscretions but the entire Roman Catholic Church, all the way to the Vatican.

    This is a stunning film about the power of a small group of urban reporters to uncover wrongdoing by one of the oldest and far-reaching institutions in the world: The Roman Catholic Church. In particular high marks for Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes, Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer, and Michael Keaton as Robbie Robinson. So much of the story parallels the Watergate Scandal of several decades earlier. As horrible as the actual victimization of minors by the priests, often boys because they were less likely to "squeal" because of the shame, the cover-up by Law was nearly as criminal. Instead of taking the priests to justice, as he should have done, he tried to cover it up by offering settlements to the families, often when the victims were minors. Law and probably other church officials moved the priests to other parishes where they engaged in similar behavior, thus allowing widespread sexual abuse to continue. It was eventually revealed that not only did these sexual predators victimize children in other parts of the country, it was happening internationally.

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