The Post (film)

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The Post
The Post (film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Produced by
Written by
Starring
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Janusz Kamiński
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed by 20th Century Fox[1]
Release date
  • December 14, 2017 (2017-12-14) (Newseum)
  • December 22, 2017 (2017-12-22) (United States)
Running time
116 minutes[3]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $50 million[4]
Box office $179.8 million[5]

The Post is a 2017 American historical political thriller film[6][7] directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. It stars Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee, the executive editor of The Washington Post, with Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Carrie Coon, and Matthew Rhys in supporting roles. Set in 1971, The Post depicts the true story of attempts by journalists at The Washington Post to publish the Pentagon Papers, classified documents regarding the 30-year involvement of the United States government in the Vietnam War.

Principal photography began in New York City in May 2017. The film premiered at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on December 14, 2017, and went into limited release in the United States on December 22, 2017. It entered wide release on January 12, 2018, and grossed $179 million worldwide.

The film received positive reviews; critics praised the performances (particularly those of Streep, Hanks, and Odenkirk) and described the references and allusions to the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Donald Trump.[8][9] The Post was chosen by the National Board of Review as the best film of 2017 and was named as one of the top 10 films of the year by Time and the American Film Institute.[10][11][12] The film was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actress (for Streep) at the 90th Academy Awards, and also received six nominations at the 75th Golden Globe Awards: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Actress – Drama (for Streep), Best Actor – Drama (for Hanks), Best Screenplay and Best Original Score.[13]

Plot[edit]

In 1966, during the Vietnam War, State Department military analyst Daniel Ellsberg accompanies United States troops in combat, documenting the progress of U.S. military activities in the region for Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. On the flight home, McNamara expresses to Ellsberg and William Macomber his view. He thinks that the war in Vietnam is hopeless, yet, upon landing, tells the press he has every confidence in the war effort. Ellsberg overhears this and becomes disillusioned. Years later, as a civilian military contractor working for the RAND Corporation, Ellsberg surreptitiously photocopies classified reports documenting the country's decades-long involvement in the conflict in Vietnam, dating back to the Truman administration. Ellsberg then leaks these documents to reporters at The New York Times.

During 1971, newspaper heiress Katharine Graham tries to balance her social life with her responsibility as owner and publisher of The Washington Post, following the deaths of her husband, Phil Graham, and her father, Eugene Meyer. She is troubled over preparations for the newspaper's stock-market launch, a move she recognizes as important for strengthening the paper's economic stability. Graham lacks experience and is frequently overruled by more assertive men who advise or work for her, such as editor-in-chief Ben Bradlee and board member Arthur Parsons.

Secretary McNamara, Graham's longtime friend, confides in her that he is to be the subject of unflattering coverage by The New York Times. The story, another example of the Times' ability to get scoops while The Post languishes, turns out to be an exposé of the government's long-running deception of the American public regarding Vietnam. However, the series is halted by a court injunction against further publication by the Times.

Post assistant editor Ben Bagdikian tracks down former colleague Ellsberg as the source for the leak, who provides him with copies of the same material given to the Times. A hand-picked team of Post reporters sorts through the piles of papers, searching for further headline stories. The lawyers for the Post advise against publishing the material, lest the Nixon administration bring criminal charges against them. Graham talks to McNamara, Bradlee, and trusted Post chairman Fritz Beebe, agonizing over the decision of whether to publish. Bradlee, a close friend of former President John F. Kennedy, tells Graham that their politican friends (including JFK, as shown in the documents) have abused their friendships by lying to their faces, proving that her friendship with McNamara must no longer stop her. The situation is made even more complicated when the Post's lawyers discover that Bagdikian's source is the same as the Times's, possibly putting Graham in contempt of court. If charges are brought against the company, Graham could destroy the newspaper she sees as a family legacy. Alternately, if she were to win any legal challenge, the Post could instead establish itself as an important journalistic institution. She chooses to run the story.

The White House retaliates, and in short order the Post and Times appear together before the Supreme Court to plead their First Amendment argument for the right to publish the material. Meanwhile, newspapers across the country pick up the story in solidarity with the Post and Times. The court rules 6–3 in the newspapers' favor, vindicating Graham's decision. A short while after, Nixon demands that the Post be barred from the White House. Just days before the first anniversary of the court’s ruling, security guard Frank Wills discovers a break-in in progress at the Watergate complex.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In October 2016, Amy Pascal won a bid for the rights to the screenplay The Post, written by Liz Hannah.[14] In February 2017, Steven Spielberg had halted pre-production on The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara after a casting setback, and consequently opened his schedule to other potential films to direct.[4] The following month, it was announced that Spielberg was in negotiations to direct and produce the film, with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in talks for the roles of Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee, respectively.[15] The Post is the first time that Spielberg, Streep, and Hanks had all worked together on a film.[16][17]

Spielberg read the screenplay and decided to direct the film as soon as possible, citing that "when I read the first draft of the script, this wasn't something that could wait three years or two years — this was a story I felt we needed to tell today."[18] Spielberg worked on The Post while post-production work continued on the visual-effects-heavy Ready Player One, a situation familiar to him from concurrently producing, in the early 1990s, Jurassic Park and Schindler's List.[19] Josh Singer was hired to re-write the screenplay ten weeks before filming.[20]

As filming commenced, a number of New York Times figures who were associated with the Pentagon Papers case—among them James Greenfield, James Goodale, Allan Siegal, and Max Frankel—objected to the film's production due to the script's lack of emphasis on the Times' role in breaking the story.[21] Goodale, who was at the time the Times's in-house counsel, later called the film "a good movie but bad history."[22]

Filming[edit]

The film began principal photography in New York on May 30, 2017.[23] On June 6, 2017, it was announced that the project, retitled The Papers, would also star Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Jesse Plemons, Matthew Rhys, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bradley Whitford, and Zach Woods.[24] On August 25, 2017, the film's title reverted to The Post.[25] Spielberg finished the final cut of the film on November 6, 2017, with the final sound mix also completed along with the musical score a week later, on November 13.[26]

Costume design[edit]

Writing for The New York Times, Manogla Dargis indicated some high points in the costume design used in the film stating, "The costume designer Ann Roth subtly brightens Katharine, taking her from leaden gray to free-flowing gold.".[27]

Music[edit]

When Steven first approached me about [The Post], we talked about Kay Graham and Ben Bradlee and what opportunities the film might present for me. When I've thought about it, I've never been in a newsroom – you know, with the clattering of a thousand typewriters in those days... Now no one's using them, it's all silent. But it must have been quite a noisy environment, really – everyone running back and forth. So I thought, "Well, how are you gonna get any music in a newsroom?"

John Williams on composing the score

The score for the film was written by John Williams; it is his 28th collaboration with Spielberg.[28] The music is a combination of traditional orchestral instrumentation and what Williams has called "very light, computerised electronic effects."[29] Williams was originally attached to write the music for Spielberg's Ready Player One, but, because both films had similar post-production schedules, Williams chose to work on The Post, while Alan Silvestri composed for Ready Player One.[29] Spielberg has said that The Post was a rare instance in which he went to the recording sessions "having not heard a note" in advance.[30]

Recording began on October 30, 2017 in Los Angeles.[31] The soundtrack was released digitally by Sony Classical Records on December 22, 2017 and in physical form on January 12, 2018.[32]

The Post (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Film score by John Williams
Released December 22, 2017 (2017-12-22) (digital)
January 12, 2018 (2018-01-12) (physical)
Genre Soundtrack
Length 40:10
Label Sony Classical
Producer John Williams
John Williams chronology
Star Wars:
The Last Jedi

(2017)String Module Error: Match not found2017
The Post
(2017)

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleLength
1."The Papers"3:56
2."The Presses Roll"5:01
3."Nixon's Order"1:47
4."The Oak Room, 1971"1:46
5."Setting the Type"2:34
6."Mother and Daughter"3:23
7."Scanning the Papers"2:23
8."Two Martini Lunch"2:34
9."Deciding to Publish"5:42
10."The Court's Decision and End Credits"11:04
Total length:40:10

Release[edit]

The Post premiered at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on December 14, 2017.[33] It began a limited theatrical release in the United States on December 22, 2017, and a wide release on January 12, 2018.[34] The film is distributed internationally through Amblin Partners' distribution agreements with Universal Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, and Entertainment One Films.[35] The film was released by Reliance in India.[36] Tom Hanks has expressed no interest in appearing at a potential White House screening for Donald Trump.[37]

Marketing[edit]

The first official image from The Post was released on October 31, 2017.[38] The trailer for The Post premiered exclusively on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, on November 7, 2017,[39] and the film's poster, designed by BLT Communications, was released the next day.[40][41] The first TV spot, titled "Uncover the Truth", was released on November 21, 2017.[42][43]

Home media[edit]

The Post was released on Digital HD on April 3 and on Blu-ray/DVD April 17 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The Post grossed $81.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $97.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $179.8 million, against a production budget of $50 million.[5]

During The Post's limited opening weekend, December 22 to 24, it grossed $526,011 (and a total of $762,057 over the four-day Christmas weekend) from nine theaters. The following weekend, the film grossed $561,080 for a per-theater average of $62,342, one of the highest of 2017.[44] The film had its wide release alongside the openings of The Commuter, Paddington 2 and Proud Mary, and was projected to gross around $20 million from 2,819 theaters over the weekend.[45] It made $5.9 million on its first day and $18.6 million over the weekend (and a four-day MLK weekend total of $23.4 million), finishing second at the box office behind holdover Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.[46] 66% of its opening weekend audience was over the age of 35.[47] It dropped 37% the following weekend to $12.2 million, finishing 4th behind Jumanji and newcomers 12 Strong and Den of Thieves.[48] It dropped to 5th in its third week of wide release, grossing $8.9 million.[49]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 87% based on 339 reviews, with an average rating of 7.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Post's period setting belies its bitingly timely themes, brought compellingly to life by director Steven Spielberg and an outstanding ensemble cast."[50] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 83 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[51] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale,[46][52] while PostTrak reported 63% of audience members gave the film a "definite recommend".[47]

Alonso Duralde of TheWrap praised the acting and Spielberg's direction, though noted the script as being too on-the-nose at times, saying, "The Post passes the trickiest tests of a historical drama: It makes us understand that decisions that have been validated by the lens of history were difficult ones to make in the moment, and it generates suspense over how all the pieces fell into place to make those decisions come to fruition."[53] David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film an A– and wrote: "Nobody needs to be reminded that history tends to go in circles, but The Post is so vital because it captures the ecstasy of trying to break the chain and bend things towards justice; defending the fundamental tenets of the Constitution hasn't been this much fun since Hamilton."[54]

Chris Nashawaty, writing for Entertainment Weekly, gave the film a positive review, but also compared it with previous journalism films such as All the President's Men and stating: "Spielberg makes these crucial days in American history easy to follow. But if you look at The Post next to something like All the President's Men, you see the difference between having a story passively explained to you and actively helping to untangle it. That's a small quibble with an urgent and impeccably acted film. But it's also the difference between a very good movie and a great one."[55]

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times awarded the film an NYT Critic's Pick with a strong acknowledgment of Spielberg as director stating, "Mostly, (the Post decision to publish) went down fast, a pace that Mr. Spielberg conveys with accelerated rhythms, flying feet, racing cameras and an enjoyably loose approach to the material. With his virtuosic, veteran crew, Mr. Spielberg paints the scene vividly and with daubs of beauty; most notably, he creates distinct visual realms for the story's two main overlapping, at times colliding worlds. Katharine reigns over one; at first she's all but entombed in her darkly lighted, wood-paneled empire. Ben rules the other, overseeing the talking and typing warriors of the glaring, noisily freewheeling newsroom".[27]

Matt Bobkin, writing for Exclaim!, gave the film a 6 out of 10 score, saying the film "has all the makings of an awards season hit, but is too calculated to reflect today's ragged, tenuous sociopolitical climate."

Portrayal of The New York Times[edit]

The film downplays the original role that The New York Times had in breaking the Pentagon Papers and emphasizes The Washington Post's subsequent involvement.[56][57] In an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review, former New York Times associates James Greenfield, who coordinated the Pentagon Papers project as the Times foreign editor; James Goodale, theTimes general counsel at the time; and Max Frankel, the Times' Washington bureau chief when the Papers were published, criticized the film's more minor portrayal of the paper.[58] The New York Times had not only published the Pentagon Papers before The Washington Post, but had also set the stage for the major legal battle between the press and the United States government.[56] The newspaper also won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its contributions. The 1972 Pulitzer jury of journalists noted in their recommendation not only the significance of Daniel Ellsberg's Pentagon Papers leak, but also that of Times reporters Neil Sheehan, Hedrick Smith, Fox Butterfield and E. W. Kenworthy, and stated that their effort was "a combination of investigative reporting, analysis, research, and writing — all of which added to a distinctly meritorious public service, not only for readers of The Times but also for an entire nation."[57] Goodale noted in an article for The Daily Beast that the Times published the Papers after Ellsberg had leaked them to Sheehan, and further stated that the film "creates a false impression that the Post was a major player in such publication. It's as though Hollywood had made a movie about the Times' triumphant role in Watergate."[22] On PBS NewsHour, Goodale further said, "Although a producer has artistic license, I think it should be limited in a situation such as this, so that the public comes away with an understanding of what the true facts are in this case . . . And I think that if you're doing a movie now, when [President Donald] Trump is picking on the press for 'fake news', you want to be authentic. You don't want to be in any way fake."[59]

Accolades[edit]

Award Date of ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards February 5, 2018 Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated [60]
[61]
Best Actor Tom Hanks Nominated
Best Director Steven Spielberg Nominated
Best Time Capsule The Post Nominated
Readers' Choice Poll The Post Nominated
Academy Awards March 4, 2018 Best Picture Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger Nominated [62]
[63]
Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists January 9, 2018 Best Ensemble Cast – Casting Director Ellen Lewis Nominated [64]
Best Woman Screenwriter Liz Hannah and Josh Singer Nominated
American Cinema Editors January 26, 2018 Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic Michael Kahn and Sarah Broshar Nominated [65]
American Film Institute January 5, 2018 Top Ten Films of the Year The Post Won [66]
Art Directors Guild January 27, 2018 Excellence in Production Design for a Period Film Rick Carter Nominated [67]
Casting Society of America January 18, 2018 Big Budget – Drama Rori Bergman, Karlee Fomalont, Ellen Lewis and Kate Sprance Nominated [68]
Cinema For Peace Awards February 19, 2018 Most Valuable Film of the Year The Post Won [69]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 11, 2018 Best Acting Ensemble The cast of The Post Nominated [70]
Best Actor Tom Hanks Nominated
Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Director Steven Spielberg Nominated
Best Editing Michael Kahn and Sarah Broshar Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Liz Hannah and Josh Singer Nominated
Best Picture The Post Nominated
Best Score John Williams Nominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association December 13, 2017 Best Film The Post 2nd Place [71]
Best Director Steven Spielberg 4th Place
Best Actor Tom Hanks 5th Place
Best Actress Meryl Streep 5th Place
Detroit Film Critics Society December 7, 2017 Best Ensemble The cast of The Post Won [72]
Best Screenplay Liz Hannah and Josh Singer Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle December 23, 2017 Best Cinematography Janusz Kamiński Nominated [73]
[74]
Georgia Film Critics Association January 12, 2018 Best Production Design Rick Carter, Kim Jennings and Deborah Jensen Nominated [75]
Best Original Score John Williams Nominated
Best Ensemble The cast of The Post Nominated
Gold Derby Awards February 1, 2018 Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated [76]
Golden Globe Awards January 7, 2018 Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Tom Hanks Nominated [77]
Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Director Steven Spielberg Nominated
Best Motion Picture – Drama The Post Nominated
Best Original Score John Williams Nominated
Best Screenplay Liz Hannah and Josh Singer Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society January 6, 2018 Best Director Steven Spielberg Nominated [78]
Best Original Screenplay Liz Hannah and Josh Singer Nominated
Best Picture The Post Nominated
Best Score John Williams Nominated
Humanitas Prize February 16, 2018 Feature – Drama Liz Hannah and Josh Singer Nominated [79]
IndieWire Critics Poll December 19, 2017 Best Picture The Post 10th Place [80]
National Board of Review January 4, 2018 Best Actor Tom Hanks Won [81]
[82]
Best Actress Meryl Streep Won
Best Film The Post Won
National Society of Film Critics January 6, 2018 Best Supporting Actor Michael Stuhlbarg 2nd Place[a] [83]
New York Film Critics Online December 10, 2017 Top 10 Films The Post Won [84]
Online Film Critics Society December 28, 2017 Best Ensemble The cast of The Post Nominated [85]
[86]
Producers Guild of America Awards January 20, 2018 Best Theatrical Motion Picture Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger Nominated [87]
San Diego Film Critics Society December 11, 2017 Best Editing Michael Kahn and Sarah Broshar Nominated [88]
Best Ensemble The cast of The Post Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle December 10, 2017 Best Editing Michael Kahn Nominated [89]
Saturn Awards June 27, 2018 Best Thriller Film The Post Nominated [90]
Seattle Film Critics Society December 18, 2017 Best Picture of the Year The Post Nominated [91]
Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Ensemble The cast of The Post Nominated
St. Louis Film Critics Association December 17, 2017 Best Actor Tom Hanks Nominated [92]
Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Director Steven Spielberg Nominated
Best Editing Michael Kahn and Sarah Broshar Nominated
Best Original Score John Williams Nominated
Best Picture The Post Runner-up
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association December 8, 2017 Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated [93]
Best Ensemble The cast of The Post Nominated
Best Portrayal of Washington D.C. The Post Won
Women Film Critics Circle December 17, 2017 Karen Morley Award The Post Nominated [94]
[95]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Also nominated for Call Me by Your Name and The Shape of Water

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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