Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight.

Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight.

Kerry Hayes

Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight.

Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight.

Kerry Hayes

Journalism movies combine my two great passions, and I've long been a sucker for a great one. I'm pretty sure Spotlight fits the bill. I saw it at the Venice Film Festival over the weekend, and I haven't stopped thinking about it. (Spotlight will soon complete a fall festival trifecta that includes stops in Telluride and Toronto. The Toronto festival, which starts Thursday, will also show another new journalism movie: Truth, based on the book Truth and Duty by former Dallas CBS news producer Mary Mapes).    

I've already Tweeted that Spotlight is the best connect-the-dots journalism movie since All the President's Men (I also love The Insider, but I see that one as more of an ode to the sacred reporter/source relationship). Spotlight, which dramatizes The Boston Globe's landmark investigation into sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests, showcases the legwork, massive time investment and strategy that goes into breaking an important story. It also showcases a killer cast, including Michael Keaton (better here than in Birdman), Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery and Liev Schreiber, who plays current Washington Post editor Marty Baron.   

Director/co-writer Tom McCarthy has done something few filmmakers have pulled off since President's Men. He has turned the pursuit of a real life story into high drama, and tapped into how reporters and editors act and interact. It finds excitement in their patience and willingness to make tough decisions and compromises, and in their blind spots. Spotlight also comes along at an ideal time, when public trust in legacy media is waning. All the President's Men inspired countless young people to go out and commit some journalism. Here's hoping Spotlight can find its audience and do the same.         

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