"The Post" joins the ranks of great newspaper movies like "The Paper", "Spotlight" and, of course, "All the President's Men".
Spielberg's casting choices, down to the minor characters, are spot-on. (My hometown newspaper is surprised that a movie about the Pentagon Papers is called The Post.) Daniel Ellsberg, a former aide to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, exposed the government's decades-long history of lies about Vietnam by sending the long report known as the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. The ensemble around them is nearly too good, including Carrie Coon, Tracy Letts, Sarah Paulson, Pat Healy, Michael Stuhlbarg, and even Odenkirk's "Mr".
Spielberg has a lot to say about modern times through the lens of 1971, the same year Walt Disney World opened. Richard Nixon is in the White House. But since the war is still on, there is some question as to whether printing the report would be damaging to the US military effort. The Nixon administration sought an injunction against the publication of the Pentagon Papers as a threat to national security, yet as the title of The Post suggests, the focus here isn't on the Times, but on the Washington paper dealing with complex issues at the same time. The Washington Post then picked up the baton.
In "The Post" that scene plays out on the steps of the Supreme Court. It didn't have the papers at first. Bob Odenkirk does particularly fine work as the reporter who tracks down Ellsberg and gets his hands on the papers.
But publishing did not come easily.
Movie fans will enjoy seeing Hanks as Bradlee, the iconic news figure who was previously immortalized by Jason Robards in 1976's "All the President's Men", and Streep's performance is meant to underscore a theme of female empowerment (Graham was also the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company).
At the time of the Pentagon Papers controversy, the Post had just become a publicly traded company, and Graham anxious that the defiant move, putting the newspaper at odds with the federal government, would give investors the jitters. The Post is owned by Katherine Graham (Streep), a D.C. socialite whose grandfather had owned the Post and who inherited the publisher's mantle when her husband, Phillip, committed suicide.
Not surprisingly, both Streep and Hanks are terrific.
Hanks doesn't bring enough gravitas and toughness to the role.
The old-school editor of the Post, Ben Bradlee defends the freedom of the press: "The only way to protect the right to publish is to publish!" In turn, Hanks gave a shot at becoming the editor-in-chief of a high-end magazine by reciting Miranda Priestly's lines in the familiar monotone from The Devil Wears Prada.
All you have to do to be in the running is leave a comment on this blog post telling us what your favorite newspaper of all time is, and why. Additionally, the script by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer was not named among the Writers Guild nominees.
Their newsroom is filled with nice vintage touches - typewriters, rotary phones, copy editors editing with pencils - though not almost enough cigarette smoke.
In today's era of "fake news", The Post has resonated with audiences in a way that few films of 2017 have. When those hot-type letters are arranged and the ink starts flowing and the presses start rumbling, you can feel the "Take That!" smack of speaking truth to power.