Movie: Captain Phillips
What it’s up for: Supporting Actor, Best Picture, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
I purposefully avoided knowing anything about the real story of Captain Phillips before going to see the film. I only knew that he was still alive. I’m not sure how different the movie would come across to someone who knows the story well, but I’d imagine that either way, it is a gripping tale.
Tom Hanks is one of the greats, hands down. What struck me about him particularly in Captain Phillips, though, was that he sincerely seemed like your average, blue-collar, working man. From the very beginning of the movie, his dialogue didn’t seem scripted. It came naturally. I’m sure that part of this had to do with the fantastic script that he was given, but it’s hard to imagine anyone doing it better. There were definitely some sort of politics in play for him to not get a Best Actor nomination.
Not to be ignored is supporting actor Barkhad Abdi, who plays Muse, the captain of the pirates. He says more significant things with his eyes in many parts of the film than he does with his mouth. You see his character change as things go from good to bad for him and his crew. Again, he benefits from a great script but he also adds to it with some great acting through body language.
The screenplay is fantastic because it is simple but effective. It allowed for some significant character development for a lot of the minor roles as well as the major characters. That combined with virtually flawless film editing. sound editing and mixing, and cinematography let you SEE what the words don’t say, while keeping the dialogue short and sweet. There are subtle nuances and connections throughout the film achieved by a combination of these factors. From the simplicity of the opening credits to the unspoken realization that one of the pirates is around the same age as Phillip’s own son, there are things that you realize or figure out throughout the story that bring depth and life to an already emotional and tense story line.
My absolute favorite things about this movie are the character development and the last five minutes. The character development of the minor characters is almost more important than the main characters. By the end of the film, you feel things for the pirates because of who they’ve become right in front of you. You get to see where they come from and the circumstances that led to the hostile takeover of the ship. (Whether or not that description is accurate is not something that I think is significant in this context. For the film adaptation of actual events, the background information is creative and vital to how the audience is meant to view the pirates.) I really appreciated the fact that the story didn’t just focus on the pirates as the “bad guys” who had no depth. The development of some of the tanker’s crew members brings more depth to how the events play out as well. You get to see how vulnerable this giant tanker was to one skiff and how little there was to help the crew members defend themselves. These satellite characters around Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi help develop the importance of what’s happening and amplify the actions of these two men.
The last five minutes of the film are breathtaking. I don’t want to spoil it so I won’t go into too much detail. The use of score, editing, cinematography, and acting all play a significant role in how powerful this moment is. It’s hard to describe, actually. It was during this five minutes, though, that Tom Hanks proved his ultimate worth as an actor. It’s what started Oscar buzz for him around this film. The more I read about it, the more I am impressed by it. What a shame. Matthew McConaughey is the black sheep on that list of best actors. He’d better impress me for me to be convinced that he should be there instead of Tom Hanks.
Supporting actor: Doubtful
Best picture: Possible but I would be surprised if it did
Film editing: Not sure yet. I’m guessing it’s in the top two though.
Sound mixing: Possible
Sound editing: Doubtful
Writing (Adapted screenplay): Doubtful