Spielberg crafts arguably the best ensemble of 2017.
RATING: ★★★ 1/2 (out of four stars)
Steven Spielberg is at an interesting point in his career. Throughout his years in the director’s chair, he’s told stories that involve aliens, sharks, and dinosaurs. In the past several years, he’s made a handful of period piece dramatic films based on true stories. (Personally speaking, I think this is where he should stay for the rest of his filmmaking career.) The Post is Spielberg at his top form, and you can tell that he made this movie for an important reason and not just for the money. While The Post isn’t perfect, it’s still one of the best movies of 2017 and comes at an important time when freedom of the press in the US is under the microscope.
The Post tells the story of the Pentagon Papers, which detailed years of military cover-ups by several presidential administrations during the Vietnam War, being leaked to the press. The overall story of The Post is pretty straightforward, but there are numerous layers and stories within stories in the film that correlate with today’s current events. The movie follows the tough position publisher Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) found herself in when faced with the decision to publish the controversial papers in The Washington Post. Graham was the first female news publisher in history, which heightened the amount of pressure on her in that time period. Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) is the hard-nosed editor of The Washington Post, and once he gets his hands on the classified documents, he pushes to have them published as soon as possible. Once again, Hanks and Streep deliver Oscar-worthy performances and share some of the best scenes in this 2017 release. Not only are these powerhouse actors as good as you would expect, but the supporting cast and ensemble as a whole also were phenomenal. But out of all the supporting cast members, Bob Odenkirk is the standout as Ben Bagdikian, who essentially discovers the source holding the Pentagon Papers.
For the most part, the pacing in The Post is fantastic and doesn’t lose you throughout its under-two-hour run time. The first 30 minutes or so are kind of slow in terms of setting, but when the second act starts, the movie hooks you and doesn’t let go until the credits roll. Technically speaking, The Post nails cinematography, costume design, and original score. The dolly-tracking shots in the offices and unique overhead shots give a stylish perspective throughout the film. The costume design is also very authentic and worthy of an Oscar Nomination. The same goes for the subtle, yet effective, original score. The Post feels like a combination of Spotlight and Zodiac, with Spielberg’s concise vision and more memorable performances from the lead actors. All of these great films are, yes, great for different reasons, but The Post is the most important when it comes to timing.
Oscar season is in full force, and The Post is not one that you should miss. Spielberg does a great job making the audience realize how substantial the decision was to publish the stories from the classified documents and how the actions taken back then are eerily comparable to everything going on right now, which reinforces the belief that The Post was, in fact, the most important movie released in 2017.
It’s also worth noting (and being astounded by) how Spielberg and his team made this movie in just six months. That in itself is so impressive and demonstrates the passion behind this project from the talent, producers, and director to get this movie on the fast track and out to the public during a critical time. It’s also another reason to see The Post in theaters, which arrives in theaters everywhere (including Nashville) this Friday.