Rating: One of the biggest problems with staggered global releases and film festival premieres is that so often big prestige pictures wind up praised as beloved masterpieces before the majority of people have got to see them. I've long stated you don't actually need to have seen all the films in contention to successfully guess the highly-political Academy Awards, but this release strategy essentially means you have no choice but to not - many hyped Oscar favourites hit in the UK after that late-February evening in the Dolby. The pitfall of this is simple - overhype. A much-lauded movie arrives in cinemas, finally seen by non-voter eyes, but on the back of all the statuette talk it feels a little flimsy. No wonder we've had some unworthy Oscar winners in recent years - nobody realised they weren't up to snuff until the votes were already cast. So what a relief then that Spotlight, which first screened in Venice before getting a US release in November and finally makes its way further afield in January, lives up to its hype. The chronicle of The Boston Globe's expose on the Catholic Church's child abuse scandal has long been established as this year's awards favourite, with only Carol and The Revenant standing in its way, and it totally deserves this legacy-defining praise. It's a deftly made, purposeful, restrained film that knows exactly what it's doing from start to finish. Here's why it deserves all the Oscar hype.
8. Ruffalo And Keaton's Obviously Unobvious Performances
In his first scene, Mark Ruffalo's performance as reporter Michael Rezendes seems off. He's obviously socially awkward, but to a heightened extent that feels like it'll border on parody; he's physically squirming in what feels like a forced attempt to show a socially insightless, angsty nature. But over the next few scenes that first impression slowly peels back to reveal a regular man, with a very defined (if hidden) background defined by personal choices. It goes from "This is getting hype?" to "Why is this not getting more hype?" The same is true, in unique ways, of the rest of the key players, who each have motivations revealed slowly over the course of the film, especially Michael Keaton's section head, whose underlying purpose is unknowingly hidden longer than expected. The parallels of this to the character's discovery in film should be obvious, but it's also impressive on a purely acting basis - these performances are built with the audience in mind, drawing you into Spotlight's world as much as the team are into the Catholic Church's.
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