The Clash: ‘Spotlight’ vs. ‘The Revenant’

BY GAVIN ROWLEY

Of the best picture nominations at the Oscars this year, there was a single film that stood head and shoulders above the rest for its ambition, beauty and cinematic achievement. And for reasons I don’t understand, that film lost.

“The Revenant” was hands down a better film than “Spotlight.” Do not think that I am here bashing “Spotlight,” it was a great movie with wonderful writing and fantastic performances by the entire cast. “The Revenant” was a cinematic masterpiece.

“Spotlight” told a great story, but that is kind of where the problem lies. One of the basic rules of film making is “show, don’t tell.” “The Revenant” showed the audience a horrifying and captivating story of survival. Compared to the endless dialogue of “Spotlight,” “The Revenant” relied entirely on the actions of the characters to move the story forward. In “Spotlight,” every single scene in the film was a conversation between the characters. Though brilliantly written conversations, the film needed more than dialogue.

The performances in both films were amazing. The cast of “Spotlight” put their hearts into the very sensitive story. Leonardo DiCaprio was undisputedly amazing and even managed to finally grab his Oscar. But one of the reasons “The Revenant” was a better film is that it did not have to rely on the actors’ performances to be great. The cinematography and editing speaks for itself. On the opposite end of that spectrum, the success of “Spotlight” rested entirely on the acting of its cast. Luckily, every tiny performance was captivating and emotional. But if the performances had not been that good, the film would have been nearly unwatchable. So while the performances of both films elevated them to an Oscar worthy status, only “The Revenant” would have been able to stand on its own without the great performances.

Honestly, “Spotlight” had a better screenplay, and its story was not only good, but it was important. That is probably why it won in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. he Oscars are a celebration of film as a medium and an art form. “The Revenant” is an ambitious reach at what mainstream film can do, forgoing the convention of artificial lighting. The crew shooting in inhospitable conditions with nothing but natural lighting (that means sunlight and fire). The final product was a pinnacle of what film can achieve, a beautiful story and a masterwork of photography. Because of this, “The Revenant” was without a doubt, the best picture.

BY JACOB WARING

“Spotlight,” a movie about the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation with the Catholic Church’s allegations of sexual abuse is worthy of being awarded “Best Picture” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

You know one movie that does not? “The Revenant!”

You see, “Spotlight” is a much more challenging movie to film because they had to visually show the journalists finding evidence, the obstacles they encounter and actually doing right by the victims.

Plus, demonizing a religious organization without coming off patronizing but realistic. In order to do that, you would need the right actors, director and editors to make a film of this nature work.

There is much that could have gone wrong. It could have been over directed to where the performances by those involved could have been hindered.

Plus, they had an all-star ensemble that shone not because of individual performances, but because they all worked as one unit. The cast built off of each other, like a team should.

“The Revenant” was riveting, exceptionally action packed when warranted and cinematically artful. Yet, the movie works only for its individual parts and not for the sum of its pieces.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu is basically artsy to the point where it is jarring thus pulling one out of the immersive reality presented by the movie. Leonardo DiCaprio was handed a role any actor could have done.

The movie falls apart if you subtract Iñárritu’s directing and cinematography. Editing was what allowed DiCaprio to nab the “Best Actor” award, not his usual acting chops.

While the story of “Spotlight” and its natural flow were seamless, “The Revenant” felt staged to where it felt like Iñárritu was showcasing what he can film rather than being fully committed to telling the story.

If “The Revenant” was done awfully, it would have still been watchable. That is not saying much because it is like people driving by a brutal car crash. You do not want to look but you are unable to stop watching things unfold as you drive by.

If “Spotlight” was not watchable, it would have failed. Not even a rental from Redbox would be viable. The film is interconnected to the point thst every aspect of the movie’s creation has to be nearly perfect or else it falters greatly.

“Spotlight” is a challenging subject matter that is challenging to film. “The Revenant” was something anyone can film to various degrees of mediocrity.

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