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My Favorite Moments in the Best Picture Nominees: The Post

This has become an annual tradition the day before the Oscars. In order move away all the subjectivity and negativity that happens when figuring out what should win and what’s going to win, I use the day before the ceremony to get away from all of that stuff and celebrate the films that are nominated for Best Picture.

We take this day to look at them as masterworks of cinema and not as films competing for a trophy. All of that other stuff — the analysis, the opinions — that’s all done with. Today, we take a minute, we stop, and we appreciate the films themselves. I count down my five favorite moments (or elements) of each of them.

When you take away all the awards, all the competition, and all the arbitrary decisions about what film is better than the others, what we’re left with is great cinema. That’s what we’re celebrating.

Our next nominee is The Post.

 

5. The feminist undercurrent

I know this rubbed some people the wrong way, but I think this was an important element to the story that needed to be there for this film to be properly told. Sure, it’s about the Washington Post and how they not only went from a family paper to a major paper, kept freedom of the press in tact and set the stage for Watergate, but also it’s about a woman who works in a male dominated industry and doing something incredibly heroic that women (and everyone, really) could look up to. The monologue from Sarah Paulson really puts that into perspective. Sure, the imagery of Meryl in the male dominated board rooms and coming down the steps of the Supreme Court surrounded by all women can seem a bit heavy handed, but the reality is — it was a big deal and means a lot for women. And I appreciate that the film did try to showcase that alongside the journalistic importance of the story.

4. Long takes

For all the faults I have with Spielberg lately, he still does certain things incredibly well, which is — if you have Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, let them act. This lunch scene starts with a single take that lasts over three minutes. Spielberg leaves the camera alone for the most part and lets the two of them do their thing uninterrupted. And I love that he did. I want more movies to do this. So many movies now are getting faster and faster paced, with no room to breathe or sit with things, and no room for shots and performances to develop. And he just lets this scene go on and lets these two pros just act. This is straight out of the 40s, and I love it.

3. Lemonade

This little subplot, if you wanna call it that, is amazing. All the reporters converge on Bradlee’s house to go over the Papers, and outside his daughter is selling lemonade. Pretty soon, she comes inside and is offering to the reporters. And after a while, in the background of Jesse Plemons’ character’s introduction, we see the girl bring her sign inside. And then they up the price to 50 cents. There’s the great line of, “Who wants lemonade?” and Carrie Coon says, “Does it have vodka in it?” The whole thing is a nice comedic undercurrent to the journalism, and the ultimate payoff comes when the little girl walks into the kitchen later on with a stack of money that she’s made off of just these people. Amazing.

2. This sequence

And then to continue with this thread — I love this entire sequence. Journalists being journalists. They’re doing this all on the fly, and they’re getting all the information, coming up with stories, having one of the reporters type it up for tomorrow’s front page, all the while trying to figure out the legality of it all… it’s brilliant. I love everything about it. (Unrelated, but imagine Aaron Sorkin getting a crack at this exact sequence.) This is the centerpiece of the movie, both literally and figuratively. And it culminates in that phone call with Meryl where she says, “Let’s go… let’s publish.” It’s great.

1. Journalism

I love movies about journalism. Especially old school journalism. On typewriters, with everyone in the same newsroom, moving all around, having four conversations at once, moving into one office from the other, ink stains everywhere, reading the actual papers and not having the internet… the presses. There’s a great moment where the presses run and you see the entire newsroom shake. I love that. It reminds you of the elbow grease that goes into real reporting, and reminds you of just how important this dying industry is. It also makes me want to go back and watch All the President’s Men, which is always a good thing.

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