Snapshots - #35: Marshall, American Made, The Glass Castle

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The movies…
Marshall (♦♦♦♦): Black lawyer Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) is entrusted by the NCAAP to defend a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) in Greenwich, CT, who has been accused of rape by his white employer. As Marshall is not allowed by the judge as legal counsel because he doesn't hold a CT license, he engages, reluctantly on both sides, the service of Jewish insurance lawyer Sam Friedman (Josh Gad), whom, with Marshall's help, will have to acquire criminal defense experience in a matter of months. But as the case is tried in court, it becomes evident that it is anything but cut and dry. Powerfully acted by Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, and Sterling K. Brown in the leading roles, Marshall treads a fine line between inspiring legal thriller and drama. On both counts it delivers in spades. Based on a true story, with race and bigotry fueling public opinion, before the apogee of the Civil Rights Movement, this accused black man is doomed from the start. A full century…

Spotlight (♦♦♦♦)

In the city of Boston, 53% of the population is Roman Catholic. In 2002, Spotlight, an investigative team with the Boston Globe uncovered the sex abuse to minors by 87 Catholic priests in the city of Boston alone, and the cover up by the highest Catholic authority in the archdiocese, Cardinal Law. The team got about 1,000 surviving victims on record dating back to the 1960s.

Wow, Spotlight is easily atop 2015's best movies for several reasons. It has a dynamic pace despite its grim topic, with a solid direction, tight editing, and smart screenplay. The scope of the story has been compared to All the President's Men, and I agree, but I also think that the feel and the storytelling resemble that movie as well.

Spotlight probably would have been just another movie without its superb ensemble cast. Michael Keaton (the original Batman) in the leading role as editor Walter "Robbie" Robinson steered the investigative team in the right direction, acted as the voice in the head for local personalities who had helped cover up the scandal for years, and ultimately had to face his own (if unintended) responsibility in the continuation of the abuse.

Liev Schrieber as Marty Baron, the head editor who put the Spotlight team on the story impressed me as well. This is the second outstanding performance by him I've seen this year; he previously starred as Boris Spassky in Pawn Sacrifice opposite Tobey Maguire, to great effect. It is a travesty that Schreiber is not a mega star; hopefully his leading role as Ray Donovan will help him attract juicier roles.

Mark Ruffalo starred as journalist Mike Rezendes, in a meatier role than the ones he typically gets (e.g. The Incredible Hulk, Marvel's The Avengers, or Now You See Me); Rachel McAdams starred as journalist Sasha Pfeiffer in yet another serious role after being the idealistic (and misguided) lawyer in A Most Wanted Man. John Slattery, Stanley Tucci as lawyer Garabedian, and Billy Cudrup starring as a victim, completed the ensemble.

Comments

  1. Wow, so many good movies in the Best Picture category. I am heading over to my friend's house in couple hours to watch the Oscars.

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    1. Yes, Judy, Spotlight was not only very good but important as well.
      Have fun tonight!

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    2. What a surprised that it took Best Picture!

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    3. I wasn't surprised at all. That's exactly the kind of movies that win awards. :-)

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  2. I've heard and read such good things about this movie and I am a big Michael Keaton fan. Haven't seen it yet, but I definitely will.

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    1. It was very good not only due to Michael Keaton but the whole ensemble cast. They showed great chemistry together.

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  3. Nice review Carmen. I found the film sedate but powerful. And was thrilled it won Best Picture. I worked at a newspaper for many years so I think: Hooray for journalism! such a big win. It's not often this happens.

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    1. Thanks, Susan. Spotlight deserved every bit that award.

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