There is a certain talent involved with making a cinematic experience out of a story that features a lot of people standing around talking. Aaron Sorkin made a career of writing engaging films about people standing (sometimes sitting) around talking. The advantage of a story set around investigation is the added drama of the subject matter. All The President’s Men was the last great investigative drama and set the template for future films to follow in it’s stead, however nothing has come to stand up against it. Until this year. Spotlight not only stands with All The President’s Men, but I think goes beyond it. All The President’s Men was the spectacle of it’s time and was a story that focused a lot more on the actual story, the investigation, and how it affect those directly involved. Spotlight has a much larger focus on how the story impacted the people around it. It was about how the story affected the community which made it all that more powerful. Now you can say that All The President’s Men was a much stronger film that depicted the investigation process, which I agree with, it defiantly is, but I feel that Spotlight makes up for this by it being about the community and the betrayal of the church. It would be hard not to as the church is seen as a symbol of all that is good and is of God’s will. So to say something against the church is to say something against God, and it’s not something that happens in one place, it’s worldwide, so it has a much bigger scope.
But with subject matters aside, Spotlight is a much more cinematic film, heavily affected by Howard Shore’s soundtrack and stronger cinematography. The cast bring their A game, being another example that there should be a Best Ensemble category at the awards, and it was them that added the much needed emotional tone to the film. This is a very delicate part of the world’s history and to have the performers not engaged emotionally (or even angered) would’ve been a big misstep. All The President’s Men shows the reporters engaged with the story and uncovering the truth, but the performance shows it as where their investment ends. I didn’t get the sense that they were in it to put the bad guys away, just to put out a great story. Spotlight excels at that. You felt their investment, you know they cared and are deeply affected by the story. It is this kind of direction which takes from an ok film, to one of the greats. Looking at the best picture category, this is not only a contender, but I think it will win.