"The movie is about something important and it's handled in such a really mature, serious way that to have it being embraced today when there's so much bombast in filmmaking – which I'm also part of – it's a very sweet moment for all of us," Ruffalo told PEOPLE at the Spotlight and Ketel One Vodka Golden Globes celebration in Beverly Hills on Friday.
The film depicts the work by The Boston Globe's team of investigative journalists who helped unveil the 2001 child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.
"The other thing that's amazing about the movie is that it's really a celebration of journalism and the power of it," Ruffalo explained. "I think it reawakens us. It reawakens our appreciation of it."
The 48-year-old added that he thinks the so-called reawakening also extends beyond the movie theater.
"I also think that we're in a kind of a special time of our priorities and our values kind of aligning to being more compassionate," he said. "To see our communities as part of ourselves. I really feel like that's kind of the time we're living in."
While neither Ruffalo nor any of his costars received individual acting nominations at the Globes, the film is up for best motion picture, drama. Spotlight is also nominated for the ensemble award at the Screen Actors Guild Award.
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The actor calls his work in the film the "tail end" of a new portion of his career where he chose more serious projects.
"Now I'm focusing on my kids," he explains. "I've spent the last six months just being with my family."
And family is important to the star.
He says of his children: "[It's] just really like getting into them and really being able to be there and support them and validate them and just be part of their lives for this really small period of time before they're off into the world."
Reporting by SCOTT HUVER