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Best Picture Breakdown: Captain Phillips

Best Picture Breakdown: Captain Phillips
Movie Minute

POSTED: Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 12:00pm

UPDATED: Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 12:14pm

         It’s award season in Hollywood and one of the most sought after awards is an Oscar. This year several deserving figures have received nominations. From Leonardo DiCaprio’s nomination for Best Actor, to the team of Gravity receiving a nomination for their achievement in visual effects. While these nominations are great, none are more coveted than that of Best Picture. Just a few years ago the Best Picture category increase from 5 nominations to 10, but was soon changed to where each year up to 10 films can receive a nomination. This year 9 films made the cut; American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf Of Wall Street.


Though it is a moment in history that is still somewhat fresh, Captain Phillips is an entertaining and intense look at the 2009 hijacking of the American cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama.

While shipping cargo off the coast of Africa, Captain Richard Phillips, played by Tom Hanks, and his crew are put to the test when a small group of Somalia pirates board their ship. After negotiations go sour, the pirates take Phillips hostage.

The film starts out several days before the hijacking, providing time for character development. It not only gives us a look at life for Phillips but it also shows us a bit of what drove the pirates to hijack the ship. From there it goes into the events leading up to the actual hijacking.

Pacing the story very well, Director Paul Greengrass does a fantastic job at telling an incredible story, while staying true to the real-life events. There are several directors out there who could have made the film over the top, but that wasn’t the case. He took his time, slowly building upon what the public already knew about the events and used it to his advantage. Another thing Greengrass did really well was cast unknown actors to play the role of the pirates. This created an almost real sense of danger. It would have been less effective if Denzel Washington played the antagonist.

The acting by all involved is great throughout the entire movie, but how everyone acted and how everything was executed in the last 30 minutes of the movie was the most notable. Even when no dialogue was used, the fear and confusion can be felt just from the expression on each actor’s face.

Now this film was extremely good, but one problem I had with it was it missed an opportunity to explain why exactly the pirates took over the ship. The film touches on it by saying it’s because they were left with no other choice. The film could have elaborated and given the audience a look at the motivation of those who have to resort to extreme measures in order to survive Africa.

All in all Captain Phillips is a fantastic movie with minor flaws. It is worth the two hours and 13 minutes of your life.

Though it's a strong film, it's going up against so heavy hitters this year, and unfortunantly I don't think it had the lasting impression on audiences and critics to win Best Picture.

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