Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.
— United States Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, NY Times v United States
The Post is the next in a prestigious line of the drama sub-genre of motion pictures focusing on journalism, a group featuring great films like Citizen Kane, Meet John Doe, The China Syndrome, Call Northside 777, and Zodiac. The Post could be seen as a sequel of sorts to another film classic from this group, the Academy Award-winning 1976 film All the President’s Men. That film, which told the story of The Washington Post coverage of the break-in at the Watergate Hotel that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, co-starred Jason Robards as executive editor Ben Bradlee. The Washington Post is again front and center in The Post, this time with Tom Hanks as Bradlee and Meryl Streep as publisher Katherine Graham (who was an active player in the events in All the President’s Men, but the character did not appear in the film).
With director Steven Spielberg, Streep, and Hanks attached to the film, it’s likely The Post will be a big Oscar contender next March. The Post tells the story of The Washington Post’s decision to disclose The Pentagon Papers over the course of a few weeks in June 1971, an extensive government study that would show that the government had hidden from the public and media the true extent of U.S. activity in the Vietnam War. The decision of the Supreme Court would stifle the media for 15 days before finally providing some guidance on when the government may restrict the press from certain disclosures.
The film features plenty of familiar faces, including Alison Brie as Graham’s daughter Lally Weymouth, Carrie Coon as Meg Greenfield (Post editorial writer and confidante of Graham), David Cross as Post editor Philip Geyelin, Bruce Greenwood as Robert McNamara (President Johnson’s secretary of defense), Tracy Letts as Paul Ignatius (President Johnson’s assistant secretary of defense), Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian (the reporter for The Post at the center of the Pentagon Papers coverage), Michael Stuhlbarg as Post managing editor Eugene Patterson, and Zach Woods as Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who disclosed the Pentagon Papers and was charged with espionage.
Check out this trailer for The Post:
Other actors in the film include Sarah Paulson, Jesse Plemons, Matthew Rhys, and Bradley Whitford.
Steven Spielberg often seems to have his hands in every other film or television production, but he’s somewhat selective in the films he directs. That said, his career as director of major films goes back 43 years, and The Post is his 32nd major directorial effort.
The Post arrives in select theaters December 22, 2017, with general U.S. release January 12, 2018.