The name Steven Spielberg has long been synonymous with quality filmmaking, and the reliable trend continues with the auteur's latest Oscar-bound endeavor, The Post. Tapping into the nation's current political climate, where the standing presidential administration has emphatically combated contemporary news reporting, Spielberg circles back in U.S. history to an eerily familiar time when Nixon sought to silence the media. And with Hollywood entrenched firmly on the opposite side of our President, some believe The Post could actually steal a Best Picture win at the Academy Awards as a clear statement of their dissatisfaction with his policies and public statements. But only time will tell how tall the The Post truly stands against the greatest cinematic achievements of all-time.
In 1971 a Washington Post reporter receives over 3,000 pages of a classified U.S. study regarding the nation's complete involvement in the Vietnam War. Fiery editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) tries to convince the Post's owner, Kay Graham (Meryl Streep), to publish the documents, which contain information spanning four presidential administrations and detailing their incessant lying to the public and even congress throughout the duration of the war. Yet, as Graham is caught in the middle of trying to sell her newspaper and demands from the United States Attorney General not to publish the classified material, she's forced to balance her financial well-being and journalistic integrity surrounding an entire war based off of lies and misinformation.
Spielberg's The Post captures a pivotal moment in U.S. history with sharp vision and an unusual conciseness that leaves you longing for more. As far as iconic films regarding news journalism, such as All the President's Men and Spotlight, Spielberg's effort comes close to their grandeur but not quite close enough. His direction is on point, per usual, yet The Post's third act cruises by in a stepping-stone sequence intended to briskly conclude the film. This flat finale is also painted with cheap sentiment, illustrated by the courthouse scene where Streep's character exits through a crowd solely of women appearing absolutely inspired by her courageous decisions, merely serving as a lazily crafted symbol of her female empowerment. However, tacky elements have became a frequent staple in Spielberg's work, something that sadly puts a blemish on his always superb abilities as a filmmaker and visionary. And as far as performances go, Streep and Hanks, an absolute powerhouse of a pairing, provide exceptional turns that don't quite stack up to the pinnacles of their careers, but are certainly worthy of the Oscar praises that they've garnered. The Post flows naturally and comes and goes with immense ease, once again proving that Spielberg is a timeless filmmaker capable of delivering highly respectable work at every turn.