Spotlight

A quantum leap for the talented writer-director Thomas McCarthy (The Visitor, The Station Agent), this outstanding drama recounts the yearlong crusade of the Boston Globe‘s special investigative unit to expose the Catholic Church’s shielding of pedophile priests. McCarthy and cowriter Josh Singer include agonizing moments with the grown, traumatized victims, but the movie is more notable for its textured portrayal of newspaper work and its complex and shocking sense of how the Boston archdiocese pressured the courts, the media, and its own worshipers to look the other way. Set in 2001 (the investigation is briefly shelved during the 9/11 attacks), this offers a potent reminder that investigative journalism is critical to a just society, and that we need it now more than ever. As one might expect with an actor turned director like McCarthy, the performances are uniformly excellent; among the cast are Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Billy Crudup, Stanley Tucci, and John Slattery.