Spotlight: A Movie that Turns Controversy into Boredom

Okay, the movie Spotlight. Why, other than its subject matter, did this movie win Best Picture?

No one is disputing the facts. The Catholic Church quietly shuffled pedophile priests around knowing they were active pedophiles, and as a result, a LOT of kids got molested. Everyone knows this. The reporters at The Boston Globe, working under the Spotlight banner publicized it. Good for them.

Did they have to make this movie so flat-footed and boring?

The big draw seems to be how realistically they portray journalists doing their jobs. They work in an office, they take phone calls, they interview people in other offices or over lunches at restaurants. Wow. That blows me away. Imagine the cinematic craft that can show what working in an office really looks like. And they did it with NO CGI! Amazing! You really get the feel of what a staff meeting is like!

Another point of praise for the film is that it perfectly captures Boston. Well, huh. I think The Blues Brothers perfectly captures Chicago, but at least that movie kept me interested.

Okay, low shot. Spotlight is a serious movie, not a raucous action comedy. So, there’s talk…and talk…and talk…and reading letters and documents out loud…and more extremely earnest talk about how explosive all of this is. Not that any of it is really explosive until Mark Ruffalo throws his Best Supporting Actor Nomination hissy fit. “It could’ve been any of us!!” I wish it had been. Then maybe this movie would’ve shown something memorable instead of just blathering on for two hours.

But then, probably not, because we don’t learn anything about Mark Ruffalo’s character, nor anybody else’s. It’s impossible to give a damn about anybody in this film, except for maybe the weepy guy that knocks over the coffee while meeting Rachel McAdams. See how being molested messed him up? Unfortunately, weepy guy only has two short scenes in the film and he’s gone. So that leaves us with McAdams, who mostly just looks wide-eyed at everything. Best Supporting Actress Nomination for her! Great job Rachel!

There’s a riveting scene where boss Michael Keaton realizes how guilty he is about forgetting a single letter out of the thousands he’s read in his journalistic career. He’s just as guilty as Cardinal Law because he let that one letter get buried in tons of paperwork. Oh my freakin’ god! The horror! The horror!

Oh, come the fuck on! The guy probably got hundreds of letters about child abuse and molestation over the years. Just because he didn’t jump up and act on THAT PARTICULAR ONE LETTER from fifteen years before doesn’t automatically make him a monster. Get a grip on reality people. The greatness of this movie is supposed to be about its realism, regardless of how boring it is.

I’m really amused by your passionate hatred for this movie. I thought it was a very good film but I agree it was not worth the Best Picture Oscar. Straight Outta Compton was a much better film and was robbed at the Oscars.

I liked the movie but the best parts were the scenes with the victims, Mark Ruffalo’s struggle to get the memo from the court, and the list at the end where they showed all the other cities that had similar scandals. That was a brutal realization for me. I suspect the filmmakers were careful to portray as accurately as possible what happened because the subject matter is so dark it doesn’t need embellishment; because in a paean to journalism, playing fast and loose with the facts would have been heavily criticized; and because there were lots of real people depicted who could have sued. That left them with a pretty realistic but pretty dry representation of real life. For people begging for more realism in film, this offers it in spades.

I think you are underselling Michael Keaton’s guilt. It wasn’t that he forgot the letter; it was that when he got the letter, he consciously buried the story because he didn’t want to rock the boat. He knew he was complicit in killing bad stories about the church either out of deference to the church’s power or to his Catholic readers who might have rebelled. His decision took so little consideration that he could completely forget about it, probably before he got home that night. He never considered all the other victims he was dooming to similar abuse, which he now knows he could’ve stopped. The movie depicts a time when newspapers are seeing falling readership and revenues due to the internet. Fewer journalists will ever get to do the influential work that he was able to do and he realizes that for as hard as he worked at Spotlight, there are probably hundreds of other blown calls like that that he missed. He’s like Oscar Schindler. He did some good in the world but he tragically realizes on the precipice of the future that he could’ve done so much more. Unlike Oscar Schindler, he’s entirely stoic when he’s facing that realization.

Diff’rent strokes. I thought it was a great film and deserving of Best Picture. I liked that it wasn’t showy.

I will just quote my post in the last “What was so great about Spotlight?” thread:

I agree with this. The fact that it didn’t shoehorn some crazy stuff made it stand out. It told a story straight through, trusting in the facts to be compelling by themselves… and it was. I don’t know if I think it was the Best Picture of the year (I think The Big Short was a bit underrated and Straight Outta Compton was straight out snubbed), but I definitely thought it was worth watching.

Eh, this says more about you than it does the movie. Sorry it didn’t have enough city-destroying superhero fight scenes with CGI robots for you.

Actually, my favorite dialog movie is Inherit the Wind, but that was actually interesting.

While I haven’t seen this movie (although it sounds interesting enough to make me want to try it), one issue I can address with the OP, and that is the office meetings portion.

Watch All the President’s Men if you’ve never seen it. That’s a lot of phone calls, meetings, and talk, but it’s riveting at the same time. So it can be done. Whether Spotlight succeeds or fails is something I’ll decide after I watch it.

It recalled for me a very similar movie which was nominated for Best Picture but lost among an exceptional field: All the President’s Men. (Rocky won, also beating out Network, Taxi Driver, and Bound for Glory.) While there are intimations of menace and a bit of cloak-and-dagger in All the President’s Men, at base both movies are about the unsexy nuts and bolts of journalism.

Heh I have been ninja’ed. :slight_smile:

I just watched All the President’s Men the other day and had forgotten how good it was.

I finally had a chance to watch Spotlight. Wow, I was riveted to it, and found myself thinking back to All The Presidents Men.

Newspaper movies don’t usually interest me. Boring. But* Spotlight*, and All The presidents Men, not boring at all.

In fact, I found myself searching in my tablet for more info on this story, while I watched the movie. Trouble is, I couldn’t pull myself away from the movie long enough to find anything. Had to wait for it to end.

Actually, I turned the movie on half way through it. Then when it ended, I found it on another channel, and then watched the first half.

Amazing, brutal, disgusting story, and a great movie.

The OP probably would have preferred the reporter come after the Cardinal with guns blazing in the big action sequence at the end. “You’ll never get me! I have papal dispensation!”

I thought the movie was excellent. It’s a mystery, and the way the clues were slowly being put together made it fascinating. The story was about digging to get the story, starting out when no one thought there was anything but a few wild crackpots making allegations to get an undeserved settlement. They were working to find the evidence, despite some very serious obstacles, especially those from powerful sources.

You know, of course, that the reporters will find something. But the movie is about how they put the pieces together, how the investigation managed to get through roadblocks, and, also, how the reporters themselves were not blameless in covering up the issue (because they refused to believe what they saw). It’s how seemingly unconnected pieces of data can be connected to find a frightening pattern.

It was a fine move.

I thought it was a fine picture.

I certainly did not think it was the years best Picture.

Well if we’re just weighing with our opinion on things:

I didn’t think much of the movie but my judgment was probably clouded since, by the time I saw it, I knew it had won the Oscar.

Definitely not Best Picture material but not the worst selection ever. That distinction has to go to **Crash **or The Artist.

As to what should have won in its place, I dunno. I’ve now seen all of the nominees (Spotlight, The Martian, Brooklyn, Mad Max, Room, The Revenant, Bridge of Spies, and The Big Short). Of those, I probably liked **Brooklyn **the most but that definitely isn’t a Best Picture film either.

Got a little off task here so I’ll stop.

If I’m not already well-known for my hatred of modern formula action movies - I HATE MODERN FORMULA ACTION MOVIES - then let me proclaim my love for good dialog-driven movies.

Spotlight was good. Boring in spots, but good. Not very good. Not Oscar winning.

You know what blew me away completely? Steve Jobs. Aaron Sorkin wrote a movie about people standing around backstage waiting for something to happen. That’s a thousand times less intrinsically interesting than exposing the Catholic Church. It was never boring. Sorkin reinvented the biopic by creating a realer-than-real artificial world that concentrated on revealing character rather than stringing together a checklist of events. Resuscitating dead tropes is what movies should do. That’s what great movies do do.

If you thought Spotlight was great, let me suggest that you’re allowing the subject matter to overwhelm the actual movie. Which was good. Nothing more.

THANK YOU from the OP!!

As I pointed out in a previous post, I also am not a CGI addled twit who thinks Spotlight should’ve had an ending like Scarface. Some of my favorite movies are driven by dialogue. Inherit the Wind, Twelve Angry Men are two examples. I was riveted by Glengarry, Glen Ross. I was expecting the same from this Oscar winner. When the movie’s dialogue proved so utterly lackluster, I was disappointed enough to start this thread.

I think the makers of this film were so set on making Sp**otlight realistic, that they lost all sense of drama and pacing. They came to rely on the explosive subject matter to provide all the dramatic tension. And because the scandal is already well known, there was no suspense. All that was left was dialogue. And that dialogue was unmemorable. That’s realistic. People don’t speak memorably in real life. But that’s not enough to carry a movie.

I will have to watch Steve Jobs. I hope I won’t be disappointed again.