The Post Review: Steven Spielberg’s Award-Worthy Middle Finger to the Trump Administration.
Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Meryl Streep team up for The Post, a docudrama about the Washington Post’s decision to release the Pentagon Papers to the public. The film follows Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep), the first female publisher at the Washington Post, who must put her career on the line to reveal the truth. Katharine along with her editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) quickly discover a massive government cover-up has been on-going for over three decades. The information that Graham and her team uncover leads to one of the most significant battles of free speech to occur between the government and the press in US History.
The Post is a movie that America needs right now. The subjects that this film tackles are very much a reflection of what is going on right now. The story of Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee is an essential reminder that journalists matter and that their jobs are important. Great journalists report the facts and make tough decisions. They go against the odds and fight for what is right. The Post makes you proud of the hard work that journalists do and will make you proud of having a free press and those who have risked their careers and lives to report the truth.
Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep working together in a film is a powerful combination. I am not saying anything new when I note that these are two of the best actors in the business, but their performances here are top-notch. Hanks’ portrayal of Bradlee is committed and electrifying. He owns the screen whenever he is on it and you can feel the personal struggle that the real Ben Bradlee must have faced in Hanks performance. Meryl Streep is terrific, but again, that is what we come to expect from Meryl Streep. I will say, however, that I don’t feel like this is one of Streep’s best performances. She sits on the sidelines for a good portion of the film while the rest journalists do a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of gathering the facts. Streep does get her time to shine through especially during the scene involving a critical decision that is made via phone. This scene, in particular, is where she earns her nomination for Best Actress at both the Golden Globes as well as the Academy Awards.
There are a lot of people in this film besides Hanks and Streep who deserve some recognition for their performances including Bradley Whitford, Tracy Letts, and Sarah Paulson. The standout, however, amongst the supporting cast is Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian. Bagdikian was the reporter who pretty much took the biggest risks to get the papers into the hands of Graham and Bradlee. Odenkirk has a lot of great scenes and you can see how dedicated he was making sure that Ben Bagdikian was shown as someone who not only had a lot of pride in his work but in a lot of ways was a real hero of this story since he was the one who obtained most of the information that eventually got released. He was a committed team member of Bradlee’s staff, and Odenkirk embraced the material and nailed the role.
Liz Hannah and Josh Singer’s script is engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking. It shows the importance of great journalism and is an inside look at what goes on in a newsroom complete with the struggles that editors and producers face when they aren’t being taken seriously due to their paper’s size and reputation. Hannah and Singer did their homework on all of the events leading up to the release of the papers. The attention to detail is superb, and at times it feels like you are watching the reveal events unfold in front of your very eyes rather than watching a recreation.
Steven Spielberg has always been passionate about making movies that are based on real events. Films like Saving Private Ryan, Munich, Schindler’s List, and Amistad are all remarkable films, and The Post ranks right up there with them. Spielberg knows how to recreate actual events and show them in an interesting and captivating way. He is a master filmmaker, and this is just another impressive example as to why Spielberg is hailed as such a powerhouse filmmaker. The scenes where he captures the journalists trying to sort the pages of the Pentagon Papers are intense and exciting. His close-up shots of the printing press should earn Spielberg a nomination alone. The way he captures the printing of newspapers is so incredibly fascinating to watch. I can’t remember the last time that I was so fixated on watching something being printed.
The Post is the best film about journalism since All the Presidents Men. It is timely and important. It proves that history sadly does repeat itself and speaks very loudly to what is currently going on in America. The Post is an eye-opening reminder about the importance of freedom of the press. Award-worthy direction combined with at least three award-worthy performances by Hanks, Streep, and Odenkirk make The Post, not only one of the most important films of the year but one of the year’s must-see films. The Post is Steven Spielberg’s creative middle finger to the Trump Administration and a love letter to great journalists everywhere.
Scott ‘Movie Man’ Menzel’s rating for The Post is a 9 out of 10