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Press vs Prez: The Post a slam-dunk for informed viewers

With+director+Steven+Spielberg%2C+composer+John+Williams%2C+and+Hollywood+veterans+Tom+Hanks+and+Meryl+Streep%2C+The+Post+is+in+the+running+for+the+Academy+Award+for+Best+Picture.
With director Steven Spielberg, composer John Williams, and Hollywood veterans Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, The Post is in the running for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

With director Steven Spielberg, composer John Williams, and Hollywood veterans Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, The Post is in the running for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Amblin Entertainment

Amblin Entertainment

With director Steven Spielberg, composer John Williams, and Hollywood veterans Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, The Post is in the running for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Brynne Herzfeld, Co-Editor-In-Chief

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The Post rolled off the presses and into theaters on Jan. 12, packed with Hollywood talent and helmed by director Steven Spielberg. Set in 1971, The Post takes viewers back to the beginning of the Washington Post, when it was still considered a small family newspaper, placed in the hands of Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) upon her husband’s suicide. While Graham tries to assert herself in a male-dominated industry, the Post’s executive editor, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) grapples with the consequences of potentially publishing top secret Pentagon files, revealing a Vietnam cover-up spanning four presidential administrations, from Eisenhower to Nixon. The Post is exciting and eye-opening, but understanding the historical context and journalistic ethics brings the experience to another level.


The strongest aspect of The Post is its cast, especially Hanks and Streep. Initially, Hanks’ performance is more attention grabbing than Streep’s because the central conflict focuses on obtaining and publishing the Pentagon Papers, but the strong female lead comes into her own in the second half of the film as she becomes more involved in the files’ publication and asserts herself in the overwhelmingly masculine environment. With a well-developed character arc, Streep delivers a performance netting her a Best Actress nomination for the 2018 Academy Awards.

The Post also examines the increasingly distrustful relationship between the media and the government from an inside perspective: Graham is close friends with former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, the man who ordered a study of the US status in Vietnam, which became the Pentagon Papers. Bradlee and Graham butt heads over Graham’s reluctance to ask McNamara about the Pentagon Papers, and she in turn challenges Bradlee about his close relationship with the Kennedy family. As an extra bonus, audience members familiar with the movie All the President’s Men, about the Washington Post reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal, will appreciate The Post’s nods to its 1976 predecessor. While compelling, the movie requires close attention and background knowledge of the journalism industry to fully enjoy it. The Post is not a casual movie; every scene must be carefully followed to understand the events.

With its talented cast and careful attention to historical detail, The Post earns its Best Picture and Best Actress Oscar nominations. Hanks and Streep are masterful leads, and its tributes to All the President’s Men are well appreciated by its fans. However, the experience is enhanced by a working knowledge of the film’s subject matter, and while still enjoyable for a casual viewer, the full significance may not be as evident. Nevertheless, The Post is a masterful movie, well worth the ticket price.

 

Verdict: 9/10

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Press vs Prez: The Post a slam-dunk for informed viewers