We must be approaching award season because the fall festivals have announced their lineups, led by TIFF, and now we’re starting to get trailers for the Oscar baity movies we’ll be watching in the fall. There’s a lot of good-looking stuff coming up, but the one film I’m most looking forward to—and have been since it was first announced—is Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight, about the Boston Globe breaking the story of the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal. I think this one of the biggest stories of my generation, our Watergate, basically, and it’s a fascinating story on so many levels. It’s also one that people still don’t like talking about, which means we absolutely should keep talking about it. Silence is the first and sharpest tool an oppressor wields, so it’s the first one that has to be broken. (There are a lot of parallels to the Bill Cosby story, too.)
Writer/director Tom McCarthy made the really excellent The Station Agent and Win Win, and the really bad The Cobbler, but Spotlight looks like a return to form after his bizarre detour into Adam Sandler’s Fart Kingdom. The trailer gives Spotlight the rhythm of a political thriller, and the newsroom setting and drained color palette clearly invokes All the President’s Men. And the cast is an absolute murderer’s row, including Michael Keaton, John Slattery, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Stanley Tucci, and Rachel McAdams, who we are talking about once again, this time in context of a potential Oscar movie. It really does feel like she’s levelling up. (It was reported today that Marvel is pursuing her for a relatively minor character called Night Nurse. I have a hard time believing this, though, because there are more prominent female characters in the Doctor Strange pantheon better suited to an actress of McAdams’s stature.)
Spotlight will screen at both TIFF and the Venice Film Festival, and it has a release date in high award season (November-December), but its distributor, Open Road, has struggled with award campaigning in the past (see also: Nightcrawler). The subject and the cast guarantee it a presence, but Spotlight will have to live up to the hype and Open Road will really have to work to set itself apart in what’s bound to be a crowded field, not least because Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu just released live bears into the MPAA screening room in order to simulate what life was really like for the pioneers.
You can watch the trailer on Apple here and it's embedded below.