Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks…… I’m not sure there has been a more iconic and prestigious Director/Actress/Actor combination in recent Oscars history. The Post follows the first female publisher of an American newspaper Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) and editor Ben Bradley (Tom Hanks) as they partake in a battle between government and press aiming to expose government secrets that have been long-buried. It’s a newsroom drama dealing with an unprecedented event in the history of the press similar to 2016 Best Picture winner Spotlight which I do believe is a better film than this entry. This is one of the best ensemble casts of the year where everyone from Streep to Michael Stuhlbarg to Bruce Greenwood play their parts incredibly well and lend their talents to this compelling story. I do feel like the timely content of this story lends itself to getting a best picture nomination however I don’t feel it should win the award.
The movie starts out in a very intriguing manner, it kicks off with a very rapid pace and there’s an immediate sense of dramatic tension that had me instantly hooked. But over the next 45 minutes to an hour my level of engagement with the plot was slowly dropping, and not due to any fault on the actors or actresses parts. The first half of the film feels a little bloated and has a number of sequences of downtime where the pace dropped and I couldn’t remain invested in the story as much. There are certain subplots that spark moments of intrigue but as a whole the main plot is slowly building and nothing entirely engaging is going down. Around the half way point though the drama begins to intensify, the pacing quickens and I found myself thoroughly enjoying every moment right up until the credits roll. A lot of the details from earlier scenes begin to play a part, there are some tense moments here and there and I loved it right through to the end.
I may compare this film to or refer to Spotlight a few times in this review though I’m not doing so in a negative manner. They both feature similar themes with very different plots and they also share the same writer in Josh Singer who has done a fantastic job on both projects.
I mentioned that this movie boasts an incredible ensemble cast similar to how Spotlight featured one of the best ensemble casts of its year but there are still two standout roles above the rest. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks are undoubtedly masters of their craft and they prove that here just as well as they have a number of times in their careers. Their performances go hand-in-hand in this film and both somehow manage to disappear into their roles and have you locked in to their characters. They deliver their dialogue so damn well and so naturally it really is a spectacle just watches these two interact on screen. It has become a given now that the academy will nominate Streep year after year regardless of whether she was one of the best of that year but this is absolutely one of the best performances of the year. The way she depicts Graham’s emotional tension in a number of scenes is bar none some of her best work. Supporting performances from Bob Odenkirk, Michael Stuhlbarg and Bruce Greenwood among others are great and they all have their moments to shine.
I would be remiss not to mention the score from John Williams which is unsurprisingly incredible. When he’s not composing the score in a galaxy far far away he is lending his talents elsewhere and his style fits very well within this story. It is such a memorable component of a number of scenes that when it kicks in you instantly recognise it as one of his pieces of music and it just works. I’m surprised he didn’t get a nomination for this score but at least he is still in the running for his work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).
So in the end I do feel that The Post is very much deserving of its best picture nomination as so many components from the performances, to the score, the directing, and in part the writing are well executed. If the first half of the film was more engaging and consistent as the latter half I would have liked this a lot more but I still believe this is a very good movie worth checking out. That being said, if you aren’t a fan of newsroom dramas then obviously this probably won’t be your cup of tea.