The Post (film)

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The Post
The Post (film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySteven Spielberg
Produced by
Written by
Music byJohn Williams
CinematographyJanusz Kamiński
Edited by
Distributed by
Release date
  • December 14, 2017 (2017-12-14) (Newseum)
  • December 22, 2017 (2017-12-22) (United States)
Running time
116 minutes[5]
CountryUnited States
Budget$50 million[6]
Box office$179.8 million[7]

The Post is a 2017 American historical political thriller film[8][9] directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, and written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. It stars Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee, the longtime executive editor of The Washington Post, with Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Carrie Coon, Alison Brie, and Matthew Rhys in supporting roles.

Set in 1971, The Post depicts the true story of attempts by journalists at The Washington Post to publish the infamous Pentagon Papers, a set of classified documents regarding the 20-year involvement of the United States government in the Vietnam War and earlier in French Indochina back to the 1940s.

Principal photography began in New York City in May 2017. The film premiered at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on December 14, 2017, and went into limited release in the United States on December 22, 2017. It entered wide release on January 12, 2018, and grossed $179 million worldwide.

The film received positive reviews; critics praised the performances (particularly Streep, Hanks, and Odenkirk) and the film's references and allusions to the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Donald Trump.[10][11][12] The Post was chosen by the National Board of Review as the best film of 2017 and was named as one of the top 10 films of the year by Time magazine and the American Film Institute.[13][14][15] The Post was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actress (for Streep) at the 90th Academy Awards, and received six nominations at the 75th Golden Globe Awards: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Actress – Drama (for Streep), Best Actor – Drama (for Hanks), Best Screenplay, and Best Original Score.[16]


In 1966, during the Vietnam War, U.S. State Department military analyst Daniel Ellsberg accompanies American troops in combat, documenting military progress for Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. On the flight home, McNamara tells Ellsberg and William B. Macomber that the war is hopeless. Upon landing, however, he tells the congregated media that he has every confidence in the war effort. Ellsberg, overhearing this abrupt turn-about, becomes disillusioned. Years later, as a civilian military contractor/consultant working for the RAND Corporation (a military/defense "think tank"), Ellsberg photocopies hundreds of pages of classified reports documenting the country's decades-long involvement in Vietnam, dating back to the Truman administration. Ellsberg then leaks these documents first to The New York Times, through reporter Neil Sheehan.

In 1971, newspaper heiress Katharine Graham tries to balance a busy social life with her responsibilities as owner and publisher for the past eight years of The Washington Post, following the suicide of her husband, the Post's former publisher, and the death of her father. She nervously prepares for the Post's stock market launch, a move to help financially stabilize the paper. Graham lacks journalistic experience and is frequently overruled by her domineering financial advisers and editors, including editor-in-chief (executive editor) Ben Bradlee and board member Arthur Parsons.

McNamara, a long-time friend, warns Graham that an unflattering story featuring him will be published in The New York Times, another example of the Times' ability to get preemptive "scoops" while the Post languishes behind. The story is an exposé of the American government's long-running deception regarding America's position in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. However, a federal district court injunction halts the Times from publishing further articles on the subject.

Post assistant editor Ben Bagdikian tracks down Ellsberg, a former colleague, as the source for the leak. Ellsberg provides him copies of the same material given previously to the Times. Hand-picked Post reporters pore over mounds of pages, searching for additional headline stories. The Post's attorneys advise against publishing the material, lest the Nixon administration file criminal charges. Graham confers with McNamara, Bradlee, and trusted Post chairman Fritz Beebe, as she agonizes about publishing. Bradlee tells Graham that their politician friends (including John F. Kennedy, as shown in the top-secret documents) abused their friendships by lying to them; her friendship with McNamara must not be a factor in a decision whether to publish. The situation intensifies when the Post's lawyers discover that Bagdikian's source is the same as the Times, possibly putting Graham in contempt of court and potentially destroying the newspaper and her family's ownership and legacy. Alternately, if the legal challenges are overcome in court, the Post could emerge as a significant journalistic institution and increase its reputation. Graham goes ahead and says "let's do it".

The White House retaliates. The Post and Times jointly appear before the Supreme Court to plead their First Amendment constitutional rights. Meanwhile, other major newspapers start publishing on the secret war study in solidarity with the once isolated Post and Times. On June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court's justices, in the case of New York Times Co. v. United States, rule 6–3 in the two newspapers' favor, vindicating Graham's decision to print. Shortly after, President Richard Nixon demands that the Post be barred from the White House. The film ends with a sequence showing the discovery of the Watergate burglary, which was exposed by the Post and ultimately led to Nixon's resignation.



Previous HQ of The Washington Post on 15th Street NW in Washington, D.C..

In October 2016, Amy Pascal won a bid for the rights to the screenplay The Post, written by Liz Hannah.[17] In February 2017, Steven Spielberg had halted pre-production on The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara with The Weinstein Company after a casting setback, and consequently opened his schedule to other potential films to direct.[6] The following month, it was announced that Spielberg was in negotiations to direct and produce the film, with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in talks for the roles of Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee, respectively.[18] The Post is the first time that Spielberg, Streep, and Hanks had all worked together on a film.[19][20]

Spielberg read the screenplay and decided to direct the film as soon as possible, saying that "when I read the first draft of the script, this wasn't something that could wait three years or two years — this was a story I felt we needed to tell today."[21] Spielberg worked on The Post while post-production work continued on the visual-effects-heavy Ready Player One, a situation familiar to him from concurrently producing, in the early 1990s, Jurassic Park and Schindler's List.[22] Josh Singer was hired to re-write the screenplay ten weeks before filming.[23]

As filming commenced, a number of New York Times figures who were associated with the Pentagon Papers case—among them James Greenfield, James Goodale, Allan M. Siegal, and Max Frankel—objected to the film's production due to the script's lack of emphasis on the Times' role in breaking the story.[24] Goodale, who was at the time the Times's in-house counsel, later called the film "a good movie but bad history."[25]


The film began principal photography in New York on May 30, 2017.[26] On June 6, 2017, it was announced that the project, retitled The Papers, would also star Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Jesse Plemons, Matthew Rhys, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bradley Whitford, and Zach Woods.[27] On August 25, 2017, the film's title reverted to The Post.[28] Spielberg finished the final cut of the film on November 6, 2017, with the final sound mix also completed along with the musical score a week later, on November 13.[29]

Costume design[edit]

Writing for The New York Times, Manohla Dargis indicated some high points in the costume design used in the film stating, "The costume designer Ann Roth subtly brightens Katharine, taking her from leaden gray to free-flowing gold."[30]


When Steven first approached me about [The Post], we talked about Kay Graham and Ben Bradlee and what opportunities the film might present for me. When I've thought about it, I've never been in a newsroom – you know, with the clattering of a thousand typewriters in those days... Now no one's using them, it's all silent. But it must have been quite a noisy environment, really – everyone running back and forth. So I thought, "Well, how are you gonna get any music in a newsroom?"

John Williams on composing the score

The score for the film was written by John Williams; it is his 28th collaboration with Spielberg.[31] The music is a combination of traditional orchestral instrumentation and what Williams has called "very light, computerised electronic effects."[32] Williams was originally attached to write the music for Spielberg's Ready Player One, but, because both films had similar post-production schedules, Williams chose to work on The Post, while Alan Silvestri composed for Ready Player One.[32] Spielberg has said that The Post was a rare instance in which he went to the recording sessions "having not heard a note" in advance.[33]

Recording began on October 30, 2017 in Los Angeles.[34] The soundtrack was released digitally by Sony Classical Records on December 22, 2017 and in physical form on January 12, 2018.[35]

The Post (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Film score by
ReleasedDecember 22, 2017 (2017-12-22) (digital)
January 12, 2018 (2018-01-12) (physical)
LabelSony Classical
ProducerJohn Williams
John Williams chronology
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The Post (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Track listing[edit]

1."The Papers"3:56
2."The Presses Roll"5:01
3."Nixon's Order"1:47
4."The Oak Room, 1971"1:46
5."Setting the Type"2:34
6."Mother and Daughter"3:23
7."Scanning the Papers"2:23
8."Two Martini Lunch"2:34
9."Deciding to Publish"5:42
10."The Court's Decision and End Credits"11:04
Total length:40:10


The Post premiered at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on December 14, 2017.[10] It began a limited theatrical release in the United States on December 22, 2017, and a wide release on January 12, 2018.[36] The film is distributed internationally through Amblin Partners' distribution agreements with Universal Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, and Entertainment One.[37] The film was released by Reliance in India.[38] Tom Hanks said he would not be interested in appearing at a potential White House screening for President Donald Trump.[39]


The first official image from The Post was released on October 31, 2017.[40] The trailer for The Post premiered exclusively on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, on November 7, 2017,[41] and the film's poster, designed by BLT Communications, was released the next day.[42][43] The first TV spot, titled "Uncover the Truth", was released on November 21, 2017.[44][45]

Home media[edit]

The Post was released on Digital HD on April 3 and on Blu-ray/DVD April 17, 2018 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.


Box office[edit]

The Post grossed $81.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $97.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $179.8 million, against a production budget of $50 million.[7]

During The Post's limited opening weekend, December 22 to 24, it grossed $526,011 (and a total of $762,057 over the four-day Christmas weekend) from nine theaters. The following weekend, the film grossed $561,080 for a per-theater average of $62,342, one of the highest of 2017.[46] The film had its wide release alongside the openings of The Commuter, Paddington 2 and Proud Mary, and was projected to gross around $20 million from 2,819 theaters over the weekend.[47] It made $5.9 million on its first day and $18.6 million over the weekend (and a four-day MLK weekend total of $23.4 million), finishing second at the box office behind holdover Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.[48] 66% of its opening weekend audience was over the age of 35.[49] It dropped 37% the following weekend to $12.2 million, finishing 4th behind Jumanji and newcomers 12 Strong and Den of Thieves.[50] It dropped to 5th in its third week of wide release, grossing $8.9 million.[51]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 88% based on 398 reviews, with an average rating of 7.91/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Post's period setting belies its bitingly timely themes, brought compellingly to life by director Steven Spielberg and an outstanding ensemble cast."[52] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 83 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[53] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale,[48][54] while PostTrak reported 63% of audience members gave the film a "definite recommend".[49]

Alonso Duralde of TheWrap praised the acting and Spielberg's direction, though he noted the script was too on-the-nose at times, saying, "The Post passes the trickiest tests of a historical drama: it makes us understand that decisions validated by the lens of history were difficult ones to make in the moment, and it generates suspense over how all the pieces fell into place to make those decisions come to fruition."[55] David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film an A– and wrote: "Nobody needs to be reminded that history tends to go in circles, but The Post is so vital because it captures the ecstasy of trying to break the chain and bend things towards justice; defending the fundamental tenets of the Constitution hasn't been this much fun since Hamilton."[56]

Chris Nashawaty, writing for Entertainment Weekly, gave the film a positive review, but also compared it with previous journalism films such as All the President's Men stating, "Spielberg makes these crucial days in American history easy to follow. But if you look at The Post next to something like All the President's Men, you see the difference between having a story passively explained to you and actively helping to untangle it. That's a small quibble with an urgent and impeccably acted film. But it's also the difference between a very good movie and a great one."[57]

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times awarded the film an NYT Critic's Pick with a strong acknowledgment of Spielberg as director saying, "Mostly, (the Post decision to publish) went down fast, a pace that Mr. Spielberg conveys with accelerated rhythms, flying feet, racing cameras and an enjoyably loose approach to the material. With his virtuosic, veteran crew, Mr. Spielberg paints the scene vividly and with daubs of beauty; most notably, he creates distinct visual realms for the story's two main overlapping, at times colliding, worlds. Katharine reigns over one; at first she's all but entombed in her darkly lighted, wood-paneled empire. Ben rules the other, overseeing the talking and typing warriors of the glaring, noisily freewheeling newsroom".[30]

Matt Bobkin, writing for Exclaim!, gave the film a 6 out of 10 score, saying the film "has all the makings of an awards season hit, but is too calculated to reflect today's ragged, tenuous sociopolitical climate."

Matt Zoller Seitz of reflected on the film nearly two years after its release, noting that due to the film's accessibility and Spielberg's invisible style of direction, critics underrated the film and tended to take its story literally such as by fact-checking historical details, in spite of the film being a "coded commentary" and doubling "as a stealth portrait of the media’s responsibility in the age of Trump, and in any age."[58]

Bob Woodward, a Washington Post journalist who reported on the Watergate scandal, expressed that the film is a "masterpiece".[59]

Portrayal of The New York Times[edit]

The film downplays the original role that The New York Times had in breaking the Pentagon Papers and emphasizes The Washington Post's subsequent involvement.[60][61] In an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review, former New York Times associates James Greenfield, who coordinated the Pentagon Papers project as the Times foreign editor; James Goodale, the Times' general counsel at the time; and Max Frankel, the Times' Washington bureau chief when the Papers were published, criticized the film's more minor portrayal of the paper.[62] The New York Times had not only published the Pentagon Papers before The Washington Post, but had also set the stage for the major legal battle between the press and the United States government.[60] The newspaper also won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its contributions.

The 1972 Pulitzer jury of journalists noted in their recommendation not only the significance of Daniel Ellsberg's Pentagon Papers leak, but also that of Times reporters Neil Sheehan, Hedrick Smith, Fox Butterfield and E. W. Kenworthy, and stated that their effort was "a combination of investigative reporting, analysis, research, and writing — all of which added to a distinctly meritorious public service, not only for readers of The Times but also for an entire nation."[61] Goodale noted in an article for The Daily Beast that the Times published the Papers after Ellsberg had leaked them to Sheehan, and further stated that the film "creates a false impression that the Post was a major player in such publication. It's as though Hollywood had made a movie about the Times' triumphant role in Watergate."[25] On PBS NewsHour, Goodale further said, "Although a producer has artistic license, I think it should be limited in a situation such as this, so that the public comes away with an understanding of what the true facts are in this case . . . And I think that if you're doing a movie now, when [President Donald] Trump is picking on the press for 'fake news', you want to be authentic. You don't want to be in any way fake."[63]


Award Date of ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards February 5, 2018 Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated [64]
Best Actor Tom Hanks Nominated
Best Director Steven Spielberg Nominated
Best Time Capsule The Post Nominated
Readers' Choice Poll The Post Nominated
Academy Awards March 4, 2018 Best Picture Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger Nominated [66]
Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists January 9, 2018 Best Ensemble Cast – Casting Director Ellen Lewis Nominated [68]
Best Woman Screenwriter Liz Hannah and Josh Singer Nominated
American Cinema Editors January 26, 2018 Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic Michael Kahn and Sarah Broshar Nominated [69]
American Film Institute January 5, 2018 Top Ten Films of the Year The Post Won [70]
Art Directors Guild January 27, 2018 Excellence in Production Design for a Period Film Rick Carter Nominated [71]
Casting Society of America January 18, 2018 Big Budget – Drama Rori Bergman, Karlee Fomalont, Ellen Lewis and Kate Sprance Nominated [72]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 11, 2018 Best Acting Ensemble The cast of The Post Nominated [73]
Best Actor Tom Hanks Nominated
Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Director Steven Spielberg Nominated
Best Editing Michael Kahn and Sarah Broshar Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Liz Hannah and Josh Singer Nominated
Best Picture The Post Nominated
Best Score John Williams Nominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association December 13, 2017 Best Film The Post 2nd Place [74]
Best Director Steven Spielberg 4th Place
Best Actor Tom Hanks 5th Place
Best Actress Meryl Streep 5th Place
Detroit Film Critics Society December 7, 2017 Best Ensemble The cast of The Post Won [75]
Best Screenplay Liz Hannah and Josh Singer Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle December 23, 2017 Best Cinematography Janusz Kamiński Nominated [76]
Georgia Film Critics Association January 12, 2018 Best Production Design Rick Carter, Kim Jennings and Deborah Jensen Nominated [78]
Best Original Score John Williams Nominated
Best Ensemble The cast of The Post Nominated
Golden Globe Awards January 7, 2018 Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Tom Hanks Nominated [79]
Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Director Steven Spielberg Nominated
Best Motion Picture – Drama The Post Nominated
Best Original Score John Williams Nominated
Best Screenplay Liz Hannah and Josh Singer Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society January 6, 2018 Best Director Steven Spielberg Nominated [80]
Best Original Screenplay Liz Hannah and Josh Singer Nominated
Best Picture The Post Nominated
Best Score John Williams Nominated
Humanitas Prize February 16, 2018 Feature – Drama Liz Hannah and Josh Singer Nominated [81]
IndieWire Critics Poll December 19, 2017 Best Picture The Post 10th Place [82]
National Board of Review January 4, 2018 Best Actor Tom Hanks Won [83]
Best Actress Meryl Streep Won
Best Film The Post Won
National Society of Film Critics January 6, 2018 Best Supporting Actor Michael Stuhlbarg 2nd Place[a] [85]
New York Film Critics Online December 10, 2017 Top 10 Films The Post Won [86]
Online Film Critics Society December 28, 2017 Best Ensemble The cast of The Post Nominated [87]
Producers Guild of America Awards January 20, 2018 Best Theatrical Motion Picture Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger Nominated [89]
San Diego Film Critics Society December 11, 2017 Best Editing Michael Kahn and Sarah Broshar Nominated [90]
Best Ensemble The cast of The Post Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle December 10, 2017 Best Editing Michael Kahn Nominated [91]
Saturn Awards June 27, 2018 Best Thriller Film The Post Nominated [92]
Seattle Film Critics Society December 18, 2017 Best Picture of the Year The Post Nominated [93]
Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Ensemble The cast of The Post Nominated
St. Louis Film Critics Association December 17, 2017 Best Actor Tom Hanks Nominated [94]
Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Director Steven Spielberg Nominated
Best Editing Michael Kahn and Sarah Broshar Nominated
Best Original Score John Williams Nominated
Best Picture The Post Runner-up
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association December 8, 2017 Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated [95]
Best Ensemble The cast of The Post Nominated
Best Portrayal of Washington D.C. The Post Won
Women Film Critics Circle December 17, 2017 Karen Morley Award The Post Nominated [96]
Writers Guild of America Awards February 11, 2018 Paul Selvin Award Liz Hannah and Josh Singer Won [98]


  1. ^ Also nominated for Call Me by Your Name and The Shape of Water

See also[edit]


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  3. ^ McNary, Dave (November 1, 2017). "Participant Media Hires Girl Rising Co-Founder Holly Gordon". Variety. Los Angeles, California. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  4. ^ "Past Releases: The Post". Mister Smith Entertainment. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
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  44. ^ The Post | "Uncover the Truth" TV Commercial | 20th Century FOX. YouTube. November 21, 2017. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
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