… and I was pleasantly surprised by how not-boring it was.
This is the first year I actively tried to see every Best Picture nominee in theaters. I don’t have the time, interest, or money to see every single nominee for every category, but the Best Picture is the only one I really care about anyway, because it’s the easiest to determine my opinion on. This is the last film I had to see before I had seen every Best Picture nominee, and as such, tomorrow, my rankings and predictions for the Best Picture will come out at 12 P.M. So, if you want to know what I think of that, remember to come back. I will also be live-tweeting during the Awards, so follow me @tiedtoyourapron on twitter.
Ok, The Post. I like journalism films. There’s something that we all inherently enjoy about watching people investigate stuff. It’s kind of like watching a film about a scientist making some huge discovery, except we kind of just take it for granted that there are going to be journalists investigating stuff. However, a lot of films about journalism have this problem where their script is incredibly tight, all the lines are poignant, and everything that the characters are talking about is interesting, but, in terms of actual filmmaking, there isn’t much going on. Even films that I really like have this problem, like Spotlight or All the President’s Men. Some films don’t have that problem, and are excellently made as well as written, like Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole. The Post kind of has the opposite of this problem, all the filmmaking is really great, but the script is relatively weak.
This film has such amazing cinematography. I’m going to be honest here, I haven’t seen a Spielberg movie since The Adventures of Tin Tin, so if this is something he’s been doing recently, then my apologies, but the way Spielberg and his DP Janusz Kaminski shot this thing is excellent. There are so many moving shots in this film that throughout the film, that was mainly what I was looking at. My only real flaw with it is something that is typical of Spielberg films, where he occasionally just shines a light right into the camera. That’s fine for, like, an outdoors scene, but when you’re doing it just to do it, it gets kind of annoying. But that’s it, really, I thought that this was a terrific looking movie. Also, the makeup work was very well done. I only recognized David Cross because of his voice. In a year where Shape of Water didn’t come out, I would say that this deserved Best Makeup. And also, in a year where Blade Runner 2049 didn’t come out, I’d probably say this deserved Best Cinematography.
When I say that the script is relatively weak, I’m really just talking about the way they handled Meryl Streep’s character and plotline. What I think the writers of this film were trying to do is distinguish it from your typical newspaper film by having half the plot focus on the company and business aspect of the events happening. In All the President’s Men, you don’t need scenes of investors going over how crazy it would be to run the story, you just need someone to say “Hey, if we run this story, we will be shut down!” and you can infer why. This point of this film, though, is to see The Washington Post’s decision on whether or not to run it. And while I think that idea has potential, ultimately, I think they wrote Streep’s character in a way, where a lot of the things she does feel really forced. They’re trying to give her character an arc, by trying to write this as a film where her character deals with being this woman in a predominantly male position, and also with her late husband having had committed suicide, and with her trying to take what was once a family run business make it public. It’s a lot of stuff to deal with in a single film, but really only half of the thing focuses on her. The other half is focused on the real meat of the story, which is obviously the journalism side of the story. It feels like a film where they have focus put on too many things, and the really character-focused one doesn’t get enough time to prosper. And it really is to the film’s detriment, because the most boring scenes in the film are those of her talking to her kids, or in meetings with her share-holders. I would say that they should have either made a film focused mainly on the reporting side of things, or just made a biopic about Streep’s character, but if they did the former, it would feel like a trite rehash of better films, and if they did the latter, it would feel like another Meryl Streep Oscar vehicle.
Some people may say something to the effect of “They’re trying to make the story accurate to real life,” and I would say that doesn’t make the film any better. The best movies based on true stories are heavily fabricated anyway, like The Social Network, or Andrei Rublev. However, in the context of this film, I get that Spielberg and Co. wanted to make a film that has very big parallels to the current state of affairs between the media and the government. However, I don’t think timing should be a factor your perception of the quality of a film. All the President’s Men was not a great film in 1976 because Watergate was still fresh on the public’s mind, it was a great film in 1976 because it’s script and the events of the film are timelessly effective. You can go back and watch this film, and no matter where you are from or how old you are, you will probably find that film to be fascinating. If you watched this film, and you lived in, like, Sweden, you probably wouldn’t think it was all that great, because without the context of being an American citizen who lives in the current climate, you would likely not have as much appreciation of what a film is trying to do, unless you followed American politics.
But, I mean, yeah, I liked it.
Thank you, and remember kids, come back tomorrow to see my Oscar rankings and predictions.
Also, check out the latest episode of my podcast.