THE POST (2017) – My rating: 9/10

The Post is a political thriller directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. Set in the early 1970s, The Post depicts the true story of the journalists from The Washington Post and their attempts to publish and expose the Pentagon Papers, classified documents regarding undisclosed information about the involvement of the United States government in the Vietnam War. It was a very long war with no real theme which cost us a great many men. We the people have always wanted to know why. Still unsure of the logic behind this senseless war, only one thing is certain…

In 1965 , State Dept. military analyst Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) accompanies U.S. troops in combat to document progress of U.S. military activities in the Vietnam region for Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood). On the return flight, McNamara expresses to Ellsberg and President Lyndon Johnson his view that the war in Vietnam is hopeless. Years later, now working for a civilian military contractor, Ellsberg surreptitiously photocopies classified reports documenting the progress of the ongoing Vietnam War, dating back to the Truman administration. He leaks these documents, which detail more than 20 years of clandestine U.S. activities and frank admissions that the war has been going poorly, to reporters at The New York Times.

Heiress Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep), who succeeded her father as owner of the Washington Post, and whose husband committed suicide, is conflicted over preparations for the newspaper’s IPO, a move she recognizes as important to strengthening the paper, but fears losing family control. She lacks confidence in her ability as a woman to lead the organization, frequently “overruled” by more assertive men who advise or work for her, such as editor in chief Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and board member Arthur Parsons (Bradley Whitford).

Bradlee notices Times’ investigative reporter Neil Sheehan’s lack of publication, as of late and concludes he’s on to something big. Bradlee tries to find out what it is but does not. Meanwhile, McNamara, who is Katherine’s long term friend, confides in her that he is about to be the subject of unflattering coverage by the New York Times that will include long term public deception. However, the series is halted by a count injunction.

Washington Post assistant editor Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) tracks down Ellsberg as the source for the leak, who provides Bagdikian with copies of the same material given to the Times. A small team of Post reporters sort through the disorganized papers, trying to piece together parts of the larger story. The Post’s lawyers become aware of the project and advise against publishing the material, lest the Nixon administration bring criminal charges against them.

Graham fields the input and advice of the men around her, including McNamara, Bradlee, and trusted Post chairman Fritz Beebe (Tracy Letts), agonizing over the decision of whether to publish. If the legal fallout goes badly, she could destroy the newspaper she sees as a family legacy, but if they are successful, it could instead establish it as an important journalistic institution. She chooses to run the story.

The results of this story is well known but I decided not to post any more of the story for those who don’t know. At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, the film received six nominations: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Actress – Drama for Streep, Best Actor – Drama for Hanks, Best Screenplay and Best Original Score. The Post is an intense film and is well acted.

[THE POST received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and Best Actress (Meryl Streep)]

 

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