101 Greatest Screenplays of the 21st Century (*so far)

Everything about the project was daunting—grim subject, massive scope, painstaking research. But after resisting overtures for months, Tom McCarthy signed on to direct a movie detailing how the Boston Globe’s investigative team spent six months uncovering a pedophile-priest scandal. McCarthy enlisted Josh Singer to write the script, and once Singer delineated the trajectory of the investigation, the duo talked to key real-life figures. That process persuaded McCarthy to cowrite. Pillorying the Catholic Church was never the focus. Rather, the aim was demonstrating the importance of serious journalism—and dramatizing the pressures of that work. In Spotlight, an impassioned reporter pleads with his bosses to publish ASAP, lest more children suffer; an experienced editor confesses that he missed a chance to pursue the story years earlier; and everyone on the reporting team recognizes that if they get even one detail wrong, the credibility of their whole investigation evaporates. Singer and McCarthy won the 2016 Writers Guild Award for Original Screenplay for Spotlight.

READ: Tom McCarthy and co-writer Josh Singer script a tribute to the journalistic process with Spotlight.