The Post is delivered by the Hollywood dream team. Between them, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep boast 41 Academy Award nominations and eight wins. This is not to mention legendary long-term Spielberg collaborator, composer John Williams, who has an astonishing 50 nominations and five wins. Factor in a real-life story with topical resonances and it is almost impossible to imagine it won’t play a big part come Oscar night. Yet The Post is not stuffy awards-season fodder; instead, it promises a fast-paced, tense, gripping drama, courtesy of cinema’s greatest storyteller.
Co-written by another Oscar winner, Josh Singer (Spotlight), it tells the story of The Washington Post’s battle with the Nixon administration over publishing confidential papers that reveal the level of involvement of the US in Vietnam. It’s a David vs. Goliath tale of governmental cover-up, whistleblowing, journalistic intrigue and huge, defining decisions – but always relayed in distinctly human terms, through the prism of two people: The Post’s executive editor, Ben Bradlee (Hanks), and publisher, Kay Graham (Streep). Astonishingly, this is the first time Hanks and Streep have shared screen time.
Now on his fifth film with Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, Bridge Of Spies), Hanks is a master at playing ordinary men under extraordinary duress, and Bradlee fits that mould perfectly. He’s a driven man struggling to enhance the reputation of the local paper, risking everything for integrity and the truth.
It is a little-known fact that Streep has worked with Spielberg before — she provided the voice of the blue fairy in A.I. Artificial Intelligence — but this is the collaboration we’ve been waiting for. This is peak Streep. Graham was a housewife who became the first US female publisher, fighting her way through a male-dominated world. The decisions she makes will have consequences, not only for the paper’s staff, but also for the shape of history. It’s the kind of moral dilemma Streep was born to play.
Go beyond the leads and the supporting cast reads like a Who’s Who of quality, essential American television: Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), Matthew Rhys (The Americans), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing), Carrie Coon (Fargo), and Alison Brie (Mad Men, GLOW). If nothing else, it proves that Spielberg binge-watches like the rest of us.
As with all Spielberg films, The Post demands to be seen on the big screen. It is timely and urgent, but also promises to be for the ages. This is a powerful, persuasive reminder that power lies not with faceless bureaucracy, but with the people – an idea that will never go out of fashion.