Trailer Tuesday: Captain Phillips

Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies.

You can tell the summer’s over when the Oscar-bait trailers start showing up more regularly.  While it’s not the first trailer of the pre-awards season, this one seems destined for discussion come January.  Take a look, and read on for my thoughts below:

Captain Phillips tells the true story of the captain of the cargo ship, Maersk Alabama, who was captured by Somali pirates back in 2009.  It’s one of two biopics Tom Hanks is starring in the 2nd half of this year, though Captain Phillips seems a long way from the charming and funny trailer for Saving Mr. Banks.  Add this to the recent run of films based on recent news stories, typically featuring American soldiers, or in this case sailors, in heroic moments, often directed by popular action-drama directors.

Last year it was Zero Dark Thirty by Kathryn Bigelow, this year’s version comes from Paul Greengrass.  Greengrass seems to be bringing his typical handheld, jumpy style of filming and editing, which worked so well in The Bourne Ultimatum and United 93, but which was highly distracting in The Bourne Supremacy.  Greengrass brought a documentary-style sense of immediacy to United 93, which was thrilling and heartbreaking without ever feeling manipulative given the short span of time between 9/11 and the film.  I hope he can bring those same sensibilities to Captain Phillips.

As for Hanks, this looks to be a big year.  He’s had a bit of an off streak lately, far from his highs in the 90’s.  I think at this point his only fear (assuming he cares at all about awards) is the Academy voters splitting their votes between this and Saving Mr. Banks.

But there’s more to the story than just its award chances, even if that will be all people talk about once it’s released.  The real events of 2009 captivated news viewers all over the world, and it will be interesting to see how they can adapt Captain Phillips’ autobiography into a narrative that will work on the big screen.  The story of the pirate attack on Phillips’ ship consisted of a bout of amateur hijacking at its beginning and precise, professional violence at its conclusion.  All of that is well known by everyone who watched the footage on TV for four days.  The film will sink or swim on how it depicts Phillips’ four days as a hostage aboard that tiny lifeboat with his kidnappers.  It’s always a tough balancing act between keeping up the drama of a standoff and making events feel forced or overly dramatic in order to serve the story.  And of course there’s the question of how it will depict the Somali pirates.  We’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.

What do you think?  Are you interested in seeing Captain Phillips?  Are you a fan of Greengrass’s directing style?  What would you guess the odds are of Hanks scoring an Oscar nomination this year?  Let me know in the comments!

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