Crew members on Capt. Richard Phillips' ship say he was less than heroic during the pirate attack. (The Washington Post)

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

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