It would have needed a director like Spielberg (or may be even Ridley Scott) to have this film rushed through production as fast as it did. And perhaps, only him would have been able to ensemble such a talented cast and crew. Despite the speedy turnover, the film never looked - and felt - liked a rush job, and that is a testament to Spielberg's skill, experience and talent. However, does that make him a Best Director contender? In the same vein as Scott, they both did what few could do but the final product though polished and competent, somehow still lacked the excitement of the other potential Best Picture films.
The film very efficiently showed how - and why - Katherine Graham made the decision to publish the Pentagon papers. The turmoils and emotional struggle added layers to both the narrative and Graham as a character, and even though we - the audience - obviously knows how it ends, Spielberg still managed to engage the audience with Streep capably selling the character. And like almost all Spielberg films, one is unable to resist rooting for the protagonist despite the hackneyed schmaltzy of it all. But that is what we love about a Spielberg film - the undeniable feel-goodness of it all.
Streep had a very challenging role here mainly because Graham was a character - and person - that may be difficult to relate to. She belonged to the upper class and most times experienced #FirstWorldProblems, but what Spielberg, and writers Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, together with Streep managed to do was create a persona that felt real. Graham had a voice that was sincere and never patronising, and with Streep, a body language and facial expression that exuded sincerity and humanity. In addition, Streep was a strong embodiment of the present times of gender equality and the #MeToo/#TimesUp movement.
Hanks role was easier and so consequently less showy. However, a lesser actor may have made Ben Bradlee more abrasive, but Hanks imbued in him a likability that made him a co-lead to support even as he led the charge to what many had thought was a wrong move.
Furthermore, Streep and Hanks had great chemistry and it was evident early on when Spielberg framed them both together engaged in a one-take banter. That was an exciting moment.
Also kudos to the rest of the cast, with shout outs to Odenkirk, Letts, Rhys and Whitford. Unfortunately the ladies, Coon and Paulson, did not have juicy roles to fill other than being part of the feminist/#MeToo voice of the film.
Janusz Kaminski lensed the film and did a great job reflecting the 70s. John Williams provided the score and it was beautifully apt - very Williams-esque - but not entirely memorable.
The Post is an important film of our times. Solidly well-acted and capably directed. In another year, it might have been a front-runner for almost all categories, but this year, with the embarrassment of riches that we have, it might just be an also-ran. Nonetheless, it should be watched.