For many cinephiles, any film with either Meryl Streep or Tom Hanks is a must-see. But how about a movie with both stars and directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg? Well, there’s only one film that meets those standards, and that’s the 2017 newspaper flick The Post. It’s one of the many nominated for 2018 Oscars, and you should know a little bit about the movie before you watch the award show Sunday night.
It would be hard for a movie made by those three esteemed Hollywood players to be a dud, and not surprisingly, The Post has received overwhelmingly positive reviews.
It was written by Josh Singer and 32-year-old first-time screenwriter Liz Hannah, who wrote the first draft of the film in 2016. Hannah was unsure if the script would ever leave her computer’s hard drive, but after it found its way into the hands of movie exec Amy Pascal and director Steven Spielberg, they decided it was not only a movie that should be made, but it should be made immediately. So they fast-tracked the production, filming it in the spring of 2017 and releasing it in December of the same year.
So, what is The Post actually about?
Set in the summer of 1971, The Post refers to the Washington Post newspaper and is based on true events. While it’s technically a period piece, a battle between the government and the free press feels very relevant to the current political climate in the U.S. today.
The plot of this political thriller centers on Katharine Graham (played by Streep), the Post‘s publisher, and the newspaper’s executive editor Ben Bradlee (played by Hanks). Together, they must decide whether the Post should defy the government and publish leaked secrets from a Nixon-era Pentagon.
The government documents in question, known as “the Pentagon Papers,” revealed that U.S. officials lied to the American people about aspects of the Vietnam War—including the very damning fact that they knew the war couldn’t be won, but allowed it to continue anyway—as well as the fact that four U.S. presidents had covered it up. If that wasn’t juicy enough, Graham and Bradlee risk imprisonment, after the attorney general accused the newspaper of violating the Espionage Act.
Should you see The Post?
We don’t want to spoil the movie by giving away the whole plot summary of The Post, but we will say that if there’s anyone who can keep an audience hooked throughout a 1 hour and 55 minute film with the tension between Streep and Hank’s characters and the obstacles they must overcome, it’s definitely Spielberg.
The movie is also a feminist one. Graham inherited the publisher role from her husband after he committed suicide. Consequently, she must prove to the newspaper’s all-male board that she is capable of making the right decision as the company is on the brink of going public.
Watch the trailer here:
Still unsure of whether you should see it? If you are a fan of Spotlight or The President’s Men, we think you’re bound to enjoy The Post, too.