The best movie of 1994 you probably haven’t seen is The Paper, Ron Howard’s crackling, high-energy, ruthlessly entertaining day-in-the-life of a New York Post-style Gotham tabloid. It’s got pretty much everything I need in a movie—Robert Duvall being wise, Glenn Close being tough, Marisa Tomei being charming, Randy Quaid being crazy, Jason Alexander being crazier, Catherine O’Hara getting drunk—but most of all, it’s got Michael Keaton as a fast-talking, faster-thinking newspaper editor, which is pretty much the role he was born to play. So you can understand this viewer’s enthusiasm at the idea of Keaton doing another newspaper movie.
Though to be clear, Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight is not just “another newspaper movie.” He’s dramatizing the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that broke the story of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church wide open, so the players are powerful and the stakes are very high indeed.
McCarthy fumbled badly with his last picture, The Cobbler, but the winning streak of thoughtful, intelligent, character-driven dramas he’d assembled before that dud (The Station Agent, The Visitor, Win Win) are enough to get worked up about this one. And with an ensemble cast that includes Rachel McAdams (another newspaper movie vet), Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup, and Brian d’Arcy James, Spotlight just shot to the top of our fall movie must-see list.
“Which story do you want us to write—cause we’re writin’ one of ‘em.” BOOM.
Spotlight will screen at the Toronto and Venice Film Festivals before opening in the U.S. on November 6th.