• by Wes Singleton

The Post, A

Rated PG-13, 110 minutes

Steven Spielberg's new film "The Post" is a relevant, superbly acted political thriller in the vein of "All the President's Men." That may be due in part to the fact that the two films have a similar theme - Richard Nixon - though "The Post" is about much, much more.

A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country's first female newspaper publisher, Katharine Graham (Streep) of The Washington Post, and its hard-driving editor, Ben Bradlee (Hanks), to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government in publishing the Pentagon Papers.

Absorbing, lean and powerful, "The Post" is directed by Spielberg and co-written by Liz Hannah and "Spotlight's" Josh Singer, it's also the best film for Spielberg, Streep and Hanks in years, but it's a tight, absorbing look at American culture and journalism. Of course, there are a host of other issues at stake here: executive power, gender roles and free speech, all of which are as pertinent now as they were then, and if you think that this doesn't apply to our current president, then I would suggest a repeat viewing.

Spielberg brings with him with usual first-rate production team, including cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, who carefully brings to light America in the 1970's, as well as his to go composer, Oscar-winner John Williams, whose music here helps perfectly underscore the film's themes. The sets - including a fantastic Washington Post office - are also well done.

The large cast, headed by Oscar-winners Streep and Hanks, all shine, though some have more to do than others. First, about the leads: the more memorable is Streep, who gives her one of her best performances in years, mainly because it's so restrained, to the point that in the early stages you wonder if she will ever come to life, but she does so marvelously in those final scenes (two scenes in particular come to mind), where she takes control of the film, nailing the part and most certainly another Oscar nomination. Hanks is also great as Bradlee and his idealistic Jimmy Stewart-esque persona is a great addition and contrast to Streep's low-key demeanor.

Of the large supporting players, there are three standouts: "Better Call Saul's" Bob Odenkirk as a key Post player in this saga; "West Wing's" Bradley Whitford as an opposing Post board member, and "Star Trek's" Bruce Greenwood, as former defense secretary Robert McNamara. There are many others - perhaps too many and one of the film's few flaws, and such great actors as Emmy-winner Sarah Paulson, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jesse Plemons, Alison Brie and Carrie Coon have little impact on the proceedings.

"The Post's" sublime direction from Spielberg is more impressive given it was done on the post-production of his 2018 film, the action-thriller "Ready Player One" and the fact this was shot in a mere 30 days. "The Post" comes together as a tight, thought-provoking thriller, and the best part is its ending, which is where another aforementioned film picks up.

I'm usually hesitant at giving superlatives like "best in a decade" to films, but I will say, "The Post" is one of the year's best films, and expect to see much more it come Oscar time. Add this to your list of must-see films.

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