Captain Phillips (2013)
86th Academy Awards 2014
Nominated for 6 awards.
Nominated for Best Picture (Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca), Best Supporting Actor (Barkhad Abdi), Best Film Editing (Christopher Rouse), Best Sound Editing (Oliver Tarney), Best Sound Mixing (Chris Burdon, Chris Munro, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Billy Ray).
Watched March 20, 2014.
There is some kind of magic between director and actor that sometimes happens. When it does, the pair becomes inseparable, and the movie becomes something that is hard to forget. Captain Phillips is one of those films, and the combination of director Paul Greengrass and actor Tom Hanks is a match made in heaven.
Tom Hanks is your typical go to guy to play a relatable hero who the audience feels safe with. From Apollo 13 to Castaway, he has had some amazing roles and some amazing performances. His role as Captain Richard Phillips is somewhat different, but that is certainly not a bad thing.
The screenplay is based off of a true story. Captain Richard Phillips is a merchant captain whose assignments often take him far away from home. He is a quiet man who takes to leadership well, following regulations and gently but sternly insisting that his crew does the same. He is captaining a large container ship, the Maersk Alabama. There is no fraternizing with the crew. He is there to work, and once he receives an email about increased pirate activity off the coast of Somalia, he runs safety drills to the chagrin of everyone on board.
The Maersk Alabama became the first cargo ship in two hundred years to be hijacked by pirates. Phillips is calm and collected, showing heroics in his leadership skills and his cool head, despite the fact that he is just an ordinary man. He becomes a tour guide of sorts to the Somali pirates, and in trying to get the pirates off the ship and to keep his crew safe, he is kidnapped and finds himself on a lifeboat with four Somalis with guns and short tempers. The Somali captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi) is young and often finds himself being influenced by Phillips’ logic (and obvious leadership), but the muscle of the crew, Najee (Faysall Ahmed) is much more free with the trigger finger and much less likely to listen to anyone but his own addrenalin.
The performances in this film are all top notch, but Tom Hanks towers above them. His last scene will stay with me for a long time. I would definitely consider his lack of a nomination an upset, and Abdi’s nomination a surprise. For someone with no acting experience he had a stellar performance, but with no disrespect meant, I don’t necessarily think he deserved a nomination. Despite these opinions, there were no weak links in the film. It is a tense roller coaster from the beginning. There is very little time spent on back stories, but the audience gets to know enough about these men as the film progresses to understand their simplest traits. Phillips is a family man who is good at his job. Muse is in a deadly, competitive environment where the emphasis is on money and not on family.
The editing on this film was seamless. The pace has its peaks and valleys, but once they are in the lifeboat it just continues to quicken. Despite minimal gunfire, the terror is rampant, and when Phillips puts his own safety at risk just to write a note to his family, the crescendo seems never ending. If I can rave about anything in this film it would be the pace. It never lets up. The story never stops. The director never lost control of his film and juiced everything he could out of every minute of screen time.
What an incredible nomination that received no awards.
I’m basically gushing about this film. If you haven’t seen it already, you need to.