If you were to tell me that Steven Spielberg is directing a new flick that’s coming out around Oscar season that has a plot about the Pentagon Papers and has an ensemble cast that includes the likes of Oscar winners Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, there’s no way that can’t be a bad idea. The Post does seem to come out where our President is currently ruining our country with idiotic agenda, but it would feel like the type of film that some need today.
Katharine Graham (Streep) is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper — The Washington Post. With help from editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks), Graham races to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets surrounding the Vietnam War that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. Together, they must overcome their differences as they risk their careers — and very freedom — to help bring long-buried truths to light.
I’m a Spielberg fanatic, and that’s enough for me to be anticipating for The Post. The fact that he worked on this right after his next film Ready Player One shows that he was very passionate about making this film right now. If that’s not enough, the National Board of Review chose this as the best film of 2017. That’s setting high standards for many people. With the combination of my favorite director, talented stars, and a tense true story, will this be another hit on their hands? For me, it’s close enough to say it wasn’t great. The Post does end up being underwhelming because of whose involved with this. However, it’s for anybody that loves their investigating journalism.
Though I’m really not the one who cares about politics because it’s hard to tell what side to be on, the film’s screenplay by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, the Oscar-winning co-screenwriter of Spotlight, does what it takes to liberty to get to the point across. This was at a time where it was leading up to the Watergate scandal and both newspapers are competing against each other to see who can publish the documents first to the public. It was also a time where releasing these documents could be a troubling end for everything a part of it. The term to describe the news media “fake news” has gone around with the President doing nothing at running the country, and it was just to show that everything that the public says isn’t true at all. There’s a message that’s a little obvious that’s played out for everyone to see the connections between 1971 and now.
Hanks, in his fifth collaboration with Spielberg, is a force to be reasoned with every time he appears on the screen. Ben Bradlee knows everything about working in this business to realize what has to happen with this discovery.
And while I’m not that high on Streep because of the unnecessary nominations she gets every time, this is one of the best performances she’s given in the past few years. Kay Graham believes she wants to do the responsible thing with her position about the papers since she’s in that time where she’s a female publisher and president of the Post and she’s being downgraded by the men in this industry. Since she takes over after her father died, he left her the Post. You shouldn’t be surprised if she does get another Oscar nomination because she’s just Streep.
Besides the talents of Hanks and Streep, respectively, the ensemble overall is huge with Bob Odenkirk (fantastic as journalist Ben Bagdikian), Bruce Greenwood, Carrie Coon, Matthew Rhys, Bradley Whitford, etc. But some recognizable stars don’t get to shine that much like Sarah Paulson, Alison Brie or Michael Stuhlbarg, who are kind of wasted.
The story itself meanders in the first half, making it a little uneven trying to set the rest of the film up. Though Spielberg isn’t a stranger to tackling films that are based on historical stories (Lincoln, Schindler’s List), for some reason, it didn’t live up to all expectations.
While I wanted this to be great because it was in Spielberg’s hand, this is fascinating to watch. You do know what happens at the end of the movie, but it’s what who behind it that makes it well-done. It’s really much so a companion piece to All the President’s Men in the way it ended. This will get nominated for Best Picture, Streep for Best Actress, and Williams for Best Original Score (good score, by the way). Will it get a screenplay nom? There’s a lot of competition in that category, so I’m not sure. But if the relevant topics of this type get you talking, then you will be intrigued by The Post that’s well-acted and professionally told.
The Post is definitely a timely story to be told in today’s political climate. Though it’s not one of Spielberg’s best because of how the story was presented, it’s still solid and informative.