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The Post was the big winner at the National Board of Review Awards on Tuesday night in New York City.
The Steven Spielberg-directed film about Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham’s race to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971 took home awards for best film, best actor for Tom Hanks and best actress for Meryl Streep. The film’s timely message about the power of women in leadership roles and the importance of press freedom were among the reasons it was honored.
For Spielberg, the timing of the film wasn’t accidental. Screenwriter Liz Hannah completed a draft a week before the 2016 election, and after Spielberg received the script for producers Amy Pascal and Kristie Macosko Krieger, he kicked production into high gear.
“I sometimes take 10, 12 years for a project to gestate,” Spielberg told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet. “I thought our nation was hearing with new ears and that they would hear the message that our film contained in using history as a big reflector.”
As far as what Spielberg hopes the nation and perhaps the current administration takes away from the movie: “The truth must trump the lie,” he said.
Christiane Amanpour introduced the honor for best film, and the celebrated CNN journalist spoke to the importance of stories about the unsung heroes of the media “at a time when the press is under such unprecedented bludgeoning.”
“Everybody knows that journalists are rushed toward the danger, rushed toward the trouble, not away from it,” she said. “Physical courage and stamina of journalists is something really important and is a basic structure and underpinning of our democracy, but even greater than the physical courage is the mental and intellectual courage to defy a president, to stand up for what’s right, to defy any kind of prior restraint or cease-and-desist orders …The Post reminds us of the battles already fought and the ones that we still face.”
Hanks credited Spielberg, with whom he has worked five times, as the reason he was standing on the stage, and he also thanked the “wonder women” behind the film and renewed resonance it carried in the wake of the 2016 election. “What was perhaps going to be a museum piece about how quaint it was back in 1971 when Katharine Graham had to forcefully remove herself in order to be able to run the newspaper that was in her family, we ended up catching up to some brand of whirlwind that took us quite frankly a little bit by surprise.”
While the film undeniably celebrates the power of women, Streep took a moment during her acceptance speech, after Robert De Niro presented her with the award, to thank the men who have mentored and shaped her career, noting Joseph Papp, Sam Cohn, Mike Nichols, Spielberg and her sixth-grade music teacher.
“I know it’s the year of the woman and everything, but oh, my god, the men,” she said. “Our film, in this very fraught moment, is about the best working situation between a man and a woman where respect and devotion to the work and to the honor of the work is paramount. And honestly, in 40 years of making movies, that’s been my experience almost all the time. And it sure was my experience in The Post.”
But she did take a moment to say: “I think the movie really did meet its moment in time, and time’s up. Let’s go, girls.”
De Niro, in his introduction, went off on President Trump, referring to him as “the jerkoff-in-chief” among other insults.
The two-time Oscar winner brought up president as he discussed the “parallels” between The Post and the current political climate, describing it as “fascinating” to watch the drama that “took place nearly 50 years ago” but still resonates now.
“At the time of that story, Donald Trump was suffering from bone spurs. Today the world is suffering from the real Donald Trump,” De Niro said as he began bashing Trump. “This fucking idiot is president. It’s the Emperor’s New Clothes. The guy is a fucking fool. … Our government today, with the propping of our baby-in-chief — the jerkoff-in-chief, I call him — has put the press under siege, ridiculing it and trying to discredit it through outrageous attacks and lies. And again, just like in 1971, the press is distinguishing itself with brave, exacting journalism.”
Speaking of girl power, Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins took home the Spotlight Award for their work on the film Wonder Woman. (As Hanks joked in his speech, “every single one of the movies that we have talked about tonight have grossed over $800 million. No, I’m sorry, that’s just the one with Gal Gadot.”)
Jordan Peele’s Get Out also took home multiple honors, one for Peele for Best Directorial Debut and one for the film’s ensemble. “I knew this film was resonating when all white people simultaneously stopped bringing up Obama in conversations with me,” Peele said. “This movie became about representation as much as it was about any other form of oppression … We are living in a world that continues to fail to properly acknowledge the systemic racism of this country.”
Angelina Jolie and Loung Ung won the Freedom of Expression Award for their film First They Killed My Father. Timothee Chalamet received Best Breakthrough Performance for Call Me By Your Name, which was presented by his co-star Armie Hammer. Willem Dafoe won Best Supporting Actor for his work in The Florida Project. The writing awards went to Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Disaster Artist and Paul Thomas Anderson for Best Screenplay for Phantom Thread.
Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird took honors for Best Supporting Actress for Laurie Metcalf and Best Director for Gerwig, who came onstage in tears after Late Show host Stephen Colbert introduced her. She said that she first knew she wanted to be a director after an “inspirational aerobics class” and thanked the room for being included in the industry.
“When I first started watching movies, I didn’t know that they were made by people. I genuinely thought that they were handed down from God,” said Gerwig. “I loved making this film. I love movies. I love making movies. I want to thank you for making them and I want to thank you for including me in everything.”
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