The 90th Annual Academy Awards are less than two weeks away, and there's a Steven Spielberg film starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in the running for Best Picture, which means that there's a pretty good chance it'll be taking home that little gold statue.
The Post is what jaded film critics would call "Oscar bait" -- a movie made by some of the most revered people in the industry that relates directly to the social and political climate of the times. It's an action-free drama that's designed for close-ups and monologues.
The movie has gotten generally positive reviews, though there's an underlying grumble among Hollywood pundits that it's only because Spielberg can do no wrong. Still, there's no denying that the movie struck a chord with American audiences, who have been compelled to re-examine the Watergate scandal as the U.S. government grapples with the realization that a foreign government meddled in the 2016 election. The movie was considered to be a direct response to Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign, looking for evidence of collusion with the Russian government.
This year, there are nine nominees in the category of Best Picture at the Oscars. The highly esteemed list features films that one would expect to see there, though perhaps none more predictable than The Post. Still, that doesn't mean Spielberg's latest brainchild shouldn't be considered with the same thoughtful analysis as Jordan Peele's breakout film Get Out, or Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name.
Before you write it off as the vanilla ice cream on this year's Oscar menu, here's a rundown of why The Post belongs in the category of Best Picture.
In December of 2017, Steven Spielberg told The Hollywood Reporter, "I realized this was the only year to make this film." He couldn't ignore the parallel between the Nixon administration and the Trump administration, especially as the investigation into Russian collusion was first mounting.
Tom Hanks, who stars as Ben Bradlee, shared a similar sentiment with the outlet. He said the story still resonated with Americans because it was a fundamental attack on the rights we're promised as citizens. “You can’t do that and still have the United States of America... I think the current administration and their like-minded allies are waging a guerrilla war on the First Amendment.”
For supporters and detractors of President Trump alike, the investigation into Russian meddling has been front and center in the news cycle for the past year, meaning that this story is relevant one way or another.
In order to meet the demands of that timeliness, The Post was put together in just nine months. Compared to many feature length productions, that's the blink of an eye.
Producer Kristie Macosko Krieger explained to The Hollywood Reporter that the haste came primarily from Spielberg himself. “If I can't make it this year, I'm not making it," he reportedly told her.
The story of the Washington Post's investigation into the Watergate scandal has already been told in 1976's All the President's Men. However, the newspaper's publisher, Katharine Graham, didn't appear in the movie at all.
Streep, along with others who worked on the film, saw The Post as a chance to revisit the narrative while giving fair acknowledgement to Graham. Streep gets plenty of screentime as the iconic publisher.
In December, Spielberg admitted to reporters from The Hollywood Reporter that he didn't originally want to make The Post. He read the script when he was already in the middle of working on his film adaptation of Ready Player One, which is now due in theaters on March 30.
Spielberg says that ultimately he couldn't resist the current political parallels to the story. He also noted that Ben Bradlee was his long time neighbor in East Hampton, and he wanted a chance to portray the journalist on the big screen.
The Post stirred up a lot of controversy when it was banned briefly in Lebanon. In January, it became the first movie in the nation's history to have it's ban overturned.
Going to watch @thepost tomorrow AT LAST! Super excited! The movie was momentarily banned in #Lebanon, PM Hariri ended up revoking the ban, so feels good to be able to watch it here and make a choice ourselves, rather than the GOV telling us what to do/think.— Luna Safwan (@LunaSafwan) January 27, 2018
The film was outlawed because Spielberg has been on a "boycott Israel" list ever since his 1993 film Schindler's List. However, fans on social media demanded to see the film, and the Prime Minister was forced to request the ban be lifted. The film helped raised a historic outcry from the people of Lebanon.
Anna Bradlee wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, discussing how the movie reflected her grandfather and how she thought he would have reacted to the movie.
"While parts of Hanks' performance were quite different than the Grandpa I knew, there were certain scenes that were stunningly accurate and left me full of emotions," she wrote.
Long before The Post was in production, Tom Hanks met Katharine Graham the day before she died in July of 2001. He recounted the meeting in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, explaining that they were eating lunch at the same table at a movie conference in Idaho.
Hanks said that Graham was "incredibly sharp, just filled with personality. Curious. Interested."
Graham was 84. She didn't get the chance to see herself portrayed on the big screen.