(R, 128 minutes, Universal): Critically acclaimed dramatization of the Boston Globe’s Pultizer Prize-winning investigation of child abuse within the Catholic Church. Nominated for six Oscars, including best picture, best supporting actor (Mark Ruffalo), best supporting actress (Rachel McAdams) and best director (Tom McCarthy). McCarthy has created a world that is utterly, convincingly immersive, down to the last granular detail. It’s not a stretch to suggest that “Spotlight” is the finest newspaper movie of its era, joining “Citizen Kane” and “All the President’s Men” in the pantheon of classics of the genre. Consistent with that pared-down ethos, McCarthy has made “Spotlight” an ensemble piece rather than a showy star vehicle.
For all of its modesty and dedication to process, “Spotlight” winds up being a startlingly emotional experience, and not just for filmgoers with intimate knowledge of the culture it depicts . The look and tone of “Spotlight” may initially feel like an affectionate throwback to the stripped-down aesthetic of the 1970s, but there’s genuine moral force behind McCarthy’s method. His integrity as a filmmaker not only echoes the shared sensibility of the journalists he admires, but it also allows pain, betrayal and sadness to surface organically, without facile manipulation. The film’s resolute gaze invites viewers to share McCarthy’s high regard for daily journalism, his alarm at its possible obsolescence and his wariness of tribal loyalties and institutional deference.
Contains some crude language, including sexual references. Extras: “Uncovering the Truth: A Spotlight Team Roundtable,” “Spotlight: A Look Inside,” “The State of Journalism.” Washington Post
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‘The Good Dinosaur’
(PG, 93 minutes, Disney): Pixar’s latest animated family adventure, about the friendship between a boy and a dinosaur, will be recognized as one of the year’s best animated films. It won’t compete with the profound delights of “Inside Out” as a best picture Oscar contender, but this young boy’s adventure film will hypnotize grade school audiences with its sheer imagination and joy in filmmaking. The film’s technical wizardry, bewitching colors, innovative premise and vivid, deftly sketched individuals should touch their parents as well. The ingenious script asks what would have happened if extinction never hit the dinos. Set in a vast Yellowstone-like terrain recalling the American West, it follows the familiar premise of a likable animal forced to make an epic journey on its own.
Contains action sequences, depictions of death and perilous situations. Extras: “Sanjay’s Super Team” theatrical short; “True Lies About Dinosaurs” featurette; “The Filmmakers’ Journey,” in which director Peter Sohn and his fellow filmmakers talk about the challenging, inspiring, and unexpectedly emotional experience of making “The Good Dinosaur”; “Every Part of the Dinosaur” animation featurette; “Following the T-Rex Trail”; commentary by director Sohn, story supervisor Kelsey Mann, supervising animator Mike Venturini, director of photography/lighting Sharon Calahan, and supervising technical director Sanjay Bakshi; “Dino Bites” montage of original animated pieces produced to promote “The Good Dinosaur”; “Hide and Seek” short animated clip produced to promote “The Good Dinosaur”; deleted scenes. Minneapolis Star Tribune
‘Secret in Their Eyes’
(PG-13, 111 minutes, Universal): Remake of 2009 Oscar-winning Argentinian thriller boasts a big-name cast (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts), but garnered tepid reviews. What’s peculiar is that the new film has almost nothing to do with the original movie, which was just as much a love story as a crime thriller. While the Argentine version was dazzling and sleep-inducing by turns, the American version just plods along, offering a series of respectable scenes that could never bore or excite anybody. It would be easy to write off “Secret in Their Eyes” as a standard-issue thriller, but for two performances, which are hardly routine. The noteworthy performances belong to Roberts, as a criminal investigator, and Kidman, as an ambitious lawyer. Both effectively develop their characters over a 13-year span. Ejiofor, playing an FBI investigator who is convinced he has cracked an unsolved murder, is a commanding presence in many films, including “12 Years a Slave,” but adopts a frazzled, jumpy quality that doesn’t wear well over the course of almost two hours.
Contains discussions about disturbing violence, strong language and some sexual references. Extras: “Adapting the Story for Today’s World,” “Julia Roberts Discusses Her Most Challenging Role,” commentary with director-screenwriter Billy Ray and producer Mark Johnson. San Francisco Chronicle
Also out Feb. 23
- “The Girl in the Book”
- “The Graduate”
- “Kung Fu Trailers of Fury”
- “My All American”
- “Racing Extinction”
- “The Summer of Sangaile”
- “Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! Season 1 Part 1”
- “Fargo (Year Two)”
- “Shaun the Sheep: Season 2”
- “Shaun the Sheep: Sheep on the Loose”