Sometimes, I wonder what life would be like if social media existed in previous times of our nation’s history. Whether it be during the ‘90s or even back to the World Wars, the accessibility of public opinions and sources may have severely altered the course of the events that would come to the point of changing the very fabric of what makes us up today. On a certain level, the newspaper industry did this for us and as time went on, they would test the boundaries of the First Amendment in more ways than one. The exposure of the Pentagon Papers in the early ‘70s that would show the unethical and poor choices made by four different administrations as they pertained to the Vietnam conflict is now the subject of Steven Spielberg’s latest film, “The Post”.
Meryl Streep plays Kay Graham, the widow and now first ever female newspaper publisher, for the Washington Post. When the reports leaked by an embedded reporter threaten both legal and ethical ramifications, her editor-in-chief, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) have to make decisions about publishing the story originally broken by The New York Times as their own company goes public. Facing down the White House itself and events that spanned three different decades that even directly name Graham’s longtime friend, Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood) will challenge the both of them to their cores while trying to separate their personal feelings and friendships for what they feel in their collective conscience is right.
This film is both intense and well told with a cast that is nothing short of stellar. It should surprise no one that Spielberg simply does what he does with “The Post,” shooting in a manner that properly puts his cast in a frame that does not need a whole lot of motion to the performances can shine through, and boy do they. Streep is as stellar as she always is as the head of the paper who wants to do right by both her family and her employees, and Hanks is the perfect other side of her that becomes what some will see as the angel on her shoulder or the devil. They drive a cast that includes Alison Brie, Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, Bradley Whitford, and Sarah Paulson to what I can only describe as an acting battle royale where no matter who wins, everyone including the audience wins. Even though the ending here can be logically found even for those that do not know how it all resolves itself, it is still told in the same way that I felt the first time I saw “Argo”. Without the high adrenaline action of an ending, these performances along with a very strong script written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer (who also did “Spotlight”) put me on the edge of my seat as the events all whirl their way to a climax that will have audiences doing the same.
I know I have written this many times this year, but 2017 has been an amazing year for film, and in almost any other year, “The Post” would be one of those films that I would be heralding as a shoe-in for many different awards nominations and perhaps even a few wins. I will be interested as to where the road takes this film, and any awards that it may garner (Meryl Streep, I am talking about you for SURE) will be more than earned.