Spotlight is often regarded as one of the best films in the last decade and the Best Picture winner of 2016. The film is the harrowing real-life story of the Boston Globe’s investigation into the many abuses committed by members of the Catholic Church in the city of Boston.
The movie boasts a stellar cast and tackles the intense a serious and grounded way without being sensational. It is a look at the power of investigative journalism and how it can make a genuine change in the world. If you are looking for more powerful stories that touch on similar subject matters, here are some movies to check out similar to Spotlight.
Truman Capote is not a journalistic writer, however, his exploration of a famous murder case brought him into the world of non-fiction. Phillip Seymour Hoffman stars as Capote, the high-class and flamboyant author who visited a small-town which was the site of a gruesome murder. There, he speaks with the townspeople and the criminals in order to write his novel In Cold Blood.
The movie is a fascinating look at how Capote blurred the lines between fact and fiction. Like Spotlight, it deals with subject matter that the community would rather not address but are unable to escape.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman appears on this list again in the brilliant small drama Doubt. Hoffman plays the new priest of a Catholic school in the 1950s while Meryl Streep plays a senior nun whose suspicions of him boil over into an explosive feud.
Like Spotlight, this film touches on the abuses within the Catholic Church, though set in a time when these were even less talked about. The film keeps the audience guessing as to the truth of the accusations while the incredibly talented cast delivers powerful performances.
8 Shattered Glass
Spotlight is very much a film about the brilliance and talent of dedicated journalists. Shattered Glass is another interesting look inside this world though one that deals with the darker side of journalism.
Hayden Christensen stars in this true story as Stephen Glass, a young reporter who rose through the ranks of Washington journalism while fabricating nearly every story he wrote. The film is a thrilling look at the fall of this writer and his colleagues’ efforts to expose him.
7 Erin Brockovich
Despite that Boston Globe is a powerful entity itself, there is a sense of an underdog story to Spotlight. As these reporters attempt to expose the truth of these heinous crimes, they are met with opposition from powerful people.
Erin Brockovich has a similar and entertaining “David vs. Goliath” story. The film stars Julia Roberts as a strong-willed single mother working at a law office who becomes heavily involved in a class-action lawsuit against a power company that is polluting the community’s water supply. It is a fun, inspiring and thrilling legal drama with a great performance from Roberts.
6 State Of Play
While Spotlight keeps things grounded in its telling of this incredible true story, there is a thriller aspect to the film. However, if you’re looking for a film about investigative journalism that embraces the thrills even more, State of Play is an excellent choice.
Ben Affleck stars as an up-and-coming congressman whose affair goes public when his mistress dies. The congressman’s friend, a reporter (Russell Crowe), begins digging deeper into her death and finds there is more to this story than meets the eye.
5 The Insider
While the main focus of Spotlight is the journalists who investigated the story, the film also does a powerful job highlighting the courage and struggle of the victims who came forward. Michael Mann’s The Insider is another investigative journalism film, but it centers around the whistleblower who kicks off the story.
Russell Crowe plays a research chemist who decides to go on 60 Minutes to expose the truth about Big Tobacco. The thrilling true story also stars Al Pacino as 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman. It is a powerful and intense drama about the power of speaking out.
The tireless work of the characters in Spotlight is also reflected in David Fincher’s thriller masterpiece Zodiac. The film explores the infamous Zodiac killings by focusing on the police and reporters who spent years investigating the still-unsolved murders.
Though the scenes of the killings are hauntingly recreated, the film spends most of its time on the investigation. It is a meticulous true-crime story that presents the mountain of evidence, suggests interesting conclusions yet still leaves that sense of mystery.
3 The Post
Steven Spielberg recruited the immense talents of Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks to tell another true story which also serves as a celebration of skilled and truthful journalism. Set in the 1970s, The Post deals with the Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, a classified document that revealed the shocking government secrets behind the Vietnam War.
Streep is excellent as Kay Graham, the paper’s first female publisher while Hanks is great as legendary editor Ben Bradlee (whose son appears in Spotlight). It is a complex and entertaining film that comments on the modern relationship between the government and the press.
2 The Report
Though it does not deal with investigation of a journalistic sense, The Report feels in a similar vein to Spotlight in its true story of exposing a dark truth to the world. Adam Driver stars as a government worker who is assigned to look into the U.S. military’s use of torture of detained prisoners.
The movie is another exploration of the tireless research and digging that goes into uncovering a truth that many people would prefer stays hidden. The movie is a taut and engrossing procedural with a great lead performance by Driver.
1 All The President’s Men
Though Spotlight could challenge the title, many people view All the President’s Men to be the quintessential film about investigative journalism – and it’s hard to argue with that. The film stars Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, respectively. Together, these two Washington Post reporters’ investigation into the Watergate scandal brought down President Richard Nixon.
Like Spotlight, this film avoids being too sensational with the real events, trusting that the incredible true story is thrilling enough. The two leads are outstanding and the film is a stirring reminder of the power of the press.