Black Mass, Spotlight to Debut at Venice

Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger in Scott Cooper's BLACK MASSJohnny Depp as he appears in a trailer for Scott Cooper’s Black Mass

Scott Cooper’s Whitey Bulger flick Black Mass and Tom McCarthy’s Catholic Church abuse scandal film Spotlight will premiere at the Venice Film Festival.

The former will screen on Friday, Sept. 4, according to Variety. Johnny Depp leads Mass as Bulger; Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, and Peter Sarsgaard also star. Trailers are an unreliable gauge of a film’s quality, but Depp looks amiss in them, no? Warner Bros. will give Mass a wide release on Sept. 18 – the same day Captive, Venice opener Everest, and The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials hit nationwide.

Meanwhile, Spotlight, to be distributed by Open Road Films, boasts an ensemble cast that includes Brian d’Arcy James, Maureen Keiller, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, and John Slattery. No footage from this one yet. Spotlight is currently slated for a limited stateside bow – alongside Brooklyn and Trumbo – Nov. 6.

The cast of Tom McCarthy's SPOTLIGHT Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, and Brian d’Arcy James as they appear in Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight (via The Boston Globe)

Mass looks like Depp’s most against-type performance in years; if he’s better than the trailers suggest, he could very well make the best actor race. Cumberbatch may score an afterglow bid for his turn as William “Billy” Bulger – a politician and lawyer who also happens to be Whitey’s brother. A breakout year for Johnson may land her a supporting-actress bid – or maybe help her chances for Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash.

Spotlight, at least from the outset, seems like an obvious choice for a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) motion-picture cast nod. But its potential awards success is a bit tricky to gauge – who stands out? Do the actors get much to chew on? Maybe it’s too controversial? Keaton is a newly anointed nominee who almost won, while Ruffalo picked up his second bid last year. McAdams has been a consistent player for years; maybe it’s her time to shine?

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