Why ‘Captain Phillips’ should win the Best Picture Oscar

February 27

A quick look at this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Picture…

Synopsis: Based on the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, this high-seas adventure pits the captain (Tom Hanks) of an American freighter against a crew of desperate Somali pirates.

Total nominations: 6 (Picture, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing)

Directed by: Paul Greengrass (one previous nomination)

Starring: Tom Hanks (five-time Best Actor nominee; two-time winner), Barkhad Abdi (nominated for Best Supporting Actor; first nomination)


Tom Hanks, center, in a scene from “Captain Phillips.” (AP Photo/Sony – Columbia Pictures)

Why it should win: A thinking man’s thriller, “Captian Phillips” manages to reveal the fundamental humanity of its Third-World villains, whose desperate circumstances are shown to be, in some ways, a by-product of Western prosperity.

Why it won’t win: The heroism on display here — both Phillips’s stoic variety and the more conventional derring-do of the Navy Seals who rescue him — is tempered by the movie’s somewhat astringent aftertaste, making “Captain Phillips” an unconventional Hollywood action film.

Ann Hornaday’s review: 4 stars

“The result is a study in movement and action that is as purely cinematic as ‘Gravity,’ a film that may be more far-reaching in its location and visuals, but portrays isolation, dire straits and the wages of manifest destiny with similar white-knuckled intensity.”

Box office as of Feb. 24: $107 million domestic, $217 million worldwide

Related Reading:

‘Captain Phillips’ and Hollywood’s — and audiences’ — embrace of fact-based dramas

Why ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ should win the Best Picture Oscars

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Michael O’Sullivan has worked since 1993 at The Washington Post, where he covers art, film and other forms of popular — and unpopular — culture.
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