The fall festival season is barely upon us, yet already a few films are starting the stand out with critics. At the on-going Venice Film Festival, the world premieres of Everest and potential industry game changer Beasts of No Nation have already taken place and early reaction to both film is so far fairly favorable. Now comes the world premiere of Spotlight, a drama based on the true story of the Pulitzer Prize winning Boston Globe investigation centering around child molestation and cover ups in the Catholic Church.
That’s heavy subject matter but writer/director Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor) stacked his ensemble cast with a heavyweight roster of acclaimed actors that include Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), Rachel McAdams (A Most Wanted Man), Liev Schreiber (Lee Daniels’ The Butler), Billy Crudup (The Stanford Prison Experiment), John Slattery (Mad Men) and Michael Keaton (Birdman). McCarthy wrote the screenplay with Josh Singer (The Fifth Estate). And early word is favorable on Spotlight, with some critics pointing that the film may well be one of the major awards players come the end of the year. That would mark quite a coup for distributor Open Road Films, who’s closest touch with the Academy came last year when the dark thriller Nightcrawler earned an original screenplay nomination.
Spotlight, which has echoes of the classic All the President’s Men with it’s examination of a journalistic investigation, has already earned robust reviews from critics. Variety‘s Justin Change called the film “A superbly controlled and engrossingly detailed account of the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into the widespread pedophilia scandals and subsequent cover-ups within the Catholic Church,” while Time Out‘s Dave Callahan praised the film, stating “It’s that all-too-rare beast: a movie that’s both important and engrossing.” Not all were completely favorable, however- The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy’s said, “The capable main actors don’t have much to do except chase leads around town and interview those willing to talk; there’s no depth given to these reporters.”
With early praise and a sterling ensemble, the film may well strike with the critics and the industry all the same. Keaton, in particular, seems to be getting the lion’s share of the acclaim and may be poised for awards attention- the actor was nominated last year for his bravura turn in the Oscar champ Birdman. McCarthy previously earned an Oscar nomination for co-writing the 2009 Pixar smash Up and helped push actor Richard Jenkins to an Oscar nomination for his performance in the 2008 indie The Visitor. McCarthy also directed the 2011 indie hit Win Win and the critical misfire The Cobbler.
Spotlight will next screen at the Telluride Film Festival as well as the Toronto Film Festival before hitting theaters on November 6, 2015.