One of the more reductive jabs thrown at “Spotlight” by some during the awards season was that it had all the craftsmanship of a TV movie. ScreenCrush did a pretty good job in vigorously defending the artistry of Tom McCarthy‘s film, which is certainly subtle, but no less accomplished. It takes a special kind of talent to avoid obviously dramatic filmmaking and pull off a movie as powerful as “Spotlight.” Chatting last week with Studio 360, the filmmaker is upfront that it was a conscious decision that served the movie, to avoid visual pyrotechnics.
“Every time I take on a film, the style is representative of the content. Here, we’re talking about journalism. It ain’t flashy. It ain’t sexy. When it’s done well, it’s incredibly impactful, and that’s what we were shooting for,” he said. “We wanted to make people feel like they were living this. It’s a very austere approach to the material. Hopefully, people don’t even realize it. They’re just caught up in it.”
And certainly, he succeeded with McCarthy picking up an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and movie surprising everyone winning Best Picture. And again, McCarthy’s goal was to highlight the nuts and bolts work of the Boston Globe reporters, with nothing but hard-knuckled research and investigation.
“We committed to the craft of journalism, tedium and all. We said, ‘Let’s show all the little bits that add up to something truly extraordinary.’ We were probably guilty of geeking out on all the little details. When you see that, you appreciate all their efforts that much more,” he said.
Listen to the full fourteen-minute talk below.