Ahead of the Academy Awards, Jonathan Freedland celebrates Steven Spielberg’s timely tale of press freedom
For a man who is the world’s most successful film-maker, Steven Spielberg has a remarkably thin record at the Oscars. Of course, this points to the perennial Spielberg debate: is his accomplishment chiefly commercial, measured in box-office receipts, rather than artistic? Are his films bankable and crowdpleasing rather than great? Among those who take the former view, the fact that a director first nominated by the Academy 40 years ago – for Close Encounters of the Third Kind – has only won the best picture prize once (for Schindler’s List), is a critical piece of evidence. Sure, he has been nominated often and been named best director twice (for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan), but in a career as long and lucrative as his, those look like relatively slim pickings.
In truth, that 19-year winless streak is unlikely to end on 4 March. The Post is a 150-1 outsider to scoop the big prize. And while no one would have betted against the film being nominated, there is next to no buzz about it winning. In making the case for Get Out – on at 16-1 – Peter Bradshaw wrote that best picture is “a category that sadly often only rewards middlebrow-prestigious classiness” and the unkind would say The Post fits that description perfectly. Still, few would wager that it will vindicate Bradshaw by coming in first.
Why The Post should win the 2018 best picture Oscar