Honorary Degree: Doctor of Humane Letters
Tom McCarthy is a prolific, highly acclaimed director, screenwriter, and actor whose most recent film, Spotlight—the 2016 Oscar winner for Best Picture—recounts The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation that uncovered the Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse scandal.
McCarthy, who was nominated for Best Director and won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay with co-writer Josh Singer, earned critical praise for his unadorned, unsensational storytelling approach.
That journalistic style of filmmaking perfectly suited the raw emotion of the subject matter, and the movie prompted renewed appreciation for a kind of local investigative journalism that has all but disappeared from the American media landscape.
Spotlight was nominated for six Oscars in all and earned a barrage of critics awards and guild nominations; the screenplay alone won top honors from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Writers Guild of America, and the National Film Society of Film Critics, plus a Critics’ Choice Award and an Independent Spirit Award.
McCarthy began his career as a working actor until he burst onto the filmmaking scene with his critically acclaimed first feature, The Station Agent. The 2003 feature premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was awarded the Audience Award and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. The film was also awarded the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay and won two Independent Spirit Awards. The National Board of Review named it third on their list of the 10 best films of the year.
He followed up that success with The Visitor, a 2007 film that earned him the Independent Spirit Award for Best Director, the Grand Special Prize at the Deauville (France) Film Festival, and a Writers Guild Award nomination for
Best Original Screenplay. Two years later, he shared story credit on the 2009 hit animated feature Up, for which he received his first of three Oscar nominations.
McCarthy grew up in the small suburban community of New Providence, New Jersey, where he wrestled on the high school team, an experience he drew upon to write and direct the 2011 movie Win Win.
In addition to writing and directing, McCarthy continues his career as an actor. He made his screen debut in the 1992 film Crossing the Bridge and went on to appear in such films as Flags of Our Fathers, Syriana, Good Night and Good Luck, Year of the Dog, Meet the Parents, All the King’s Men, Duplicity, 2012, and The Lovely Bones. He was also featured in the final season of HBO’s widely praised crime series The Wire.
McCarthy earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama.