Movie Spotlight: Wins best picture Oscar and covers child abuse in Catholic Church


Vatican City

The biggest award of Oscars evening 2016 went to “Spotlight,” which pulled out a win for best picture in a very split year. The Tom McCarthy-directed film won one trophy early in the night for best original screenplay, though as the evening progressed, momentum seemed to be with “The Revenant,” which won best cinematography, director and lead actor. But the journalism drama prevailed and became the sixth best picture winner in history to only win two awards on Oscar night, and the first since 1952.

Read further in Washington Post

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spotlight is a 2015 American biographical crime drama film directed by Tom McCarthy and written by McCarthy and Josh Singer.[4][5]The film follows The Boston Globes “Spotlight” team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative journalist unit in the United States,[6] 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.[7] The film stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, and Billy Crudup.[8]

Spotlight was shown in the Out of Competition section of the 72nd Venice International Film Festival.[9] It was also shown at theTelluride Film Festival and the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.[10] 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 was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Ruffalo), Best Supporting Actress (McAdams), Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing, and won for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay at the 88th ceremony hosted on February 28, 2016.

Spotlight (film) poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tom McCarthy
Produced by
Written by
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Masanobu Takayanagi
Edited by Tom McArdle
Distributed by Open Road Films
Release dates
  • September 3, 2015(Venice)
  • November 6, 2015(United States)
Running time
129 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million[2]
Box office $59 million[3]



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 wassexually abusing children and did nothing to stop him, he urges the Spotlight team to investigate. Journalist Michael Rezendescontacts 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 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.


The Spotlight Team[edit]

Additional characters[edit]



McCarthy and Singer completed the script in June 2013.[18] It was listed on the 2013 Black List of unproduced screenplays.[19] 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.”[20]


Principal photography began on September 24, 2014, in Boston, Massachusetts[21] and continued in October in Hamilton, Ontario. Filming took place at Fenway Park,[22] The Boston Globe offices in Dorchester, Boston,[17] the Boston Public Library,[23] and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.[24] 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.”[25]


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.[9] It had a limited release on November 6, 2015, with its nationwide release scheduled for three weeks later on November 25.[26]


Box office[edit]

As of February 28, 2016, Spotlight has grossed $39.2 million in North America and $19.8 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $59 million, against a budget of $20 million.[3]

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.[27]The film grossed $4.5 million in the first weekend during its wide release, finishing 8th at the box office.[28]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes the film holds a rating of 93%, based on 258 reviews, with an average rating of 8.9/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Spotlightgracefully 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.”[29] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 93 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating “universal acclaim.”[30]

Varietys Justin Chang called the film “a superbly controlled and engrossingly detailed account of the Boston Globes Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into the widespread pedophilia scandals and subsequent cover-ups within the Catholic Church”.[31]

At the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, Spotlight finished third in the audience balloting for the People’s Choice Award.[32]

Reactions from the Catholic Church[edit]

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.”[33] 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.”[34] In February 2016, a Vatican Citycommission on clerical sex abuse attended a private screening of the film.[35]


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.”[36]

Controversy over portrayal of Jack Dunn[edit]

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.[37] 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.[38]


Spotlight has been critically acclaimed, and has been included in many critics’ Top Ten Films of 2015 lists.[39] The film has received over 100 industry and critics awards and nominations. The American Film Institute selected Spotlight as one of the Top Ten Films of the year.[40] 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.[41] 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.[42] Rachel McAdams and the ensemble cast receivedOutstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role and Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, respectively.[43]

The New York Film Critics Circle awarded Michael Keaton Best Actor award,[44] while it won the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Ensemble cast at New York Film Critics Online Awards.[45] Spotlight won the Best Film and Best Screenplay from Los Angeles Film Critics Association. It received eight nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Score.[46] It won the Best Cast in a Motion Pictureat Satellite Awards and was nominated for six other awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay.[47]

It was awarded Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture of 2015, by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, on February 28, 2016. It is also the first Best Picture to win fewer than three Academy Awards since The Greatest Show on Earth in 1953.

Spotlight was listed on over 120 critics’ and publications’ top ten lists.[39]

See also


  1. Jump up^ SPOTLIGHT (15)”. British Board of Film Classification. October 27, 2015. RetrievedOctober 27, 2015.
  2. Jump up^ “Watching the Watchers: Tom McCarthy on Making Spotlight”. Retrieved November 7, 2015.
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b “Spotlight (2015)”. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  4. Jump up^ 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.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c “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. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  6. Jump up^ Allen, Scott (June 22, 2012). “A distinguished history of digging up the truth”. Boston Globe. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  7. Jump up^ “The Pulitzer Prizes | Citation”. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  8. Jump up^ 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.
  9. ^ Jump up to:a b Shanahan, Mark (September 3, 2015). “‘Spotlight’ gets glittering debut in Venice”.Boston Globe. Retrieved November 7, 2015.
  10. Jump up^ “Toronto to open with ‘Demolition’; world premieres for ‘Trumbo’, ‘The Program'”.ScreenDaily. July 28, 2015. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  11. ^ Jump up to:a b Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (September 16, 2014). “Mark Ruffalo visits the Globe”. The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  12. Jump up^ Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (August 11, 2014). “Report: Globe Spotlight movie gets a cast”. The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  13. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Siegel, Tatiana; Kit, Borys (August 27, 2014). “Billy Crudup in Talks for Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal Film ‘Spotlight’ (Exclusive)”. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  14. Jump up^ “Brian d’Arcy James Joins Boston Priest Pedophile Drama SPOTLIGHT”. Broadway World. September 12, 2014. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  15. Jump up^ Juul, Matt (September 26, 2014). “‘Spotlight’ Actors Spotted at Fenway Park”. The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  16. ^ Jump up to:a b Siegemund-Broka, Austin (September 25, 2014). “John Slattery, ‘Homeland’ Alum Join Catholic Sex Abuse Film ‘Spotlight'”. The Hollywood Reporter. RetrievedSeptember 25, 2014.
  17. ^ Jump up to:a b Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (September 29, 2014). “‘Spotlight’ films at The Boston Globe”. The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  18. Jump up^ Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (August 19, 2014). “‘Spotlight’ script tells the story of Globe series”. The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  19. Jump up^ “Black List 2013: Full Screenplay List”. December 16, 2013. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  20. Jump up^ Iacovetti, Carla (January 25, 2016). “Spotlight: The Burden of Truth”. Creative Screenwriting. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  21. Jump up^ Juul, Matt (September 24, 2014). “Globe ‘Spotlight’ Movie Holding Open Casting Call”. The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  22. Jump up^ Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (September 26, 2014). “‘Spotlight’ filming at Fenway Park”. The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  23. Jump up^ Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (September 30, 2014). “Rachel McAdams reporting for duty”. The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  24. Jump up^ “Ruffalo, Tucci in Hamilton for Spotlight shoot”. CHCH News. October 7, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  25. Jump up^ “Spotlight Editor Tom McArdle In Conversation”. Film Doctor. February 18, 2016. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  26. Jump up^ D’Alessandro, Anthony. “Michael Keaton Mark Ruffalo Boston Globe Film ‘Spotlight’ Opens Nov. 6”. Deadline. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  27. Jump up^ 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”. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  28. Jump up^ D’Alessandro, Anthony. “Katniss On Track For $78M-80M 5-Day; ‘Good Dinosaur’ Eyes $58M-$62M; ‘Creed’ Punching $39M-$42M”. RetrievedNovember 29, 2015.
  29. Jump up^ “Spotlight (2015)”. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  30. Jump up^ “Spotlight reviews”. Metacritic. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  31. Jump up^ Chang, Justin (September 3, 2015). “Venice Film Review: “Spotlight””. Variety. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  32. Jump up^ “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.
  33. Jump up^ Allen Jr., John (October 23, 2015). “Vatican Radio praises movie on Boston Globe coverage of clergy abuse”. Crux. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  34. Jump up^ Pellegrini, Luca (September 4, 2015). “A Venezia il film sulla pedofilia nella diocesi di Boston” (in Italian). Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  35. Jump up^ Kington, Tom (February 4, 2016). “Vatican panel kicks off meeting on sexual abuse by watching ‘Spotlight'”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  36. Jump up^ Cieply, Michael (January 8, 2016). “Before the Oscars, Some Films Face the Truth Test”. New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  37. Jump up^ 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.
  38. Jump up^ 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.
  39. ^ Jump up to:a b “Best of 2015: Film Critic Top Ten Lists”. Metacritic. Retrieved December 15,2015.
  40. Jump up^ “Here Are the AFI AWARDS 2015 Official Selections”. American Film Institute. December 16, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  41. Jump up^ “Golden Globe Nominations: The Complete List”. The Hollywood Reporter. December 10, 2015. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  42. Jump up^ “‘Carol,’ ‘Spotlight,’ ‘Beasts of No Nation’ Lead Spirit Awards Nominations”. Variety. November 24, 2015. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
  43. Jump up^ “SAG Awards Nominations: Complete List”. Variety. December 9, 2015. RetrievedDecember 10, 2015.
  44. Jump up^ “‘Carol’ Takes Top Honors at New York Film Critics Awards”. The Wall Street Journal. December 2, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  45. Jump up^ “New York Film Critics Online Name ‘Spotlight’ Best Film of the Year”. Variety. December 6, 2015. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  46. Jump up^ “Critics’ Choice Award Nominations Led by ‘Mad Max,’ ‘Fargo'”. Variety. December 14, 2015. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  47. Jump up^ “2015 nominees”. International Press Academy. Retrieved December 12, 2015.

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