Film Comment’s Essential Cinema: “Captain Phillips”

The 71st Annual Golden Globes will take place this Sunday night from the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. Among the top contenders vying for awards attention is Paul Greengrass's Captain Phillips, nominated in four of the top categories (Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Director, Best Actor - Tom Hanks and Best Supporting Actor - Barkhad Abdi). Nominations from the Screen Actors Guild (ceremony to take place January 18), Producers Guild of America (January 19), Directors Guild of America (January 25), and Writers Guild of America (February 1) have also recently recognized Captain Phillips as one of the best of the year. The film, which had its World Premiere as the Opening Night selection of the 51st New York Film Festival in September, is based on the true story of Richard Phillips, a respected freight ship captain who was confronted by Somali pirates in the spring of 2009 aboard the MV Maersk Alabama (the ship was taken hostage from April 8-12).

Captain Phillips was one of the 15 films selected for Film Comment's Essential Cinema series, which debuted in the November/December 2013 issue of Film Comment magazine. Writing on the film, Jonathan Romney discussed the storytelling's filmic nature:

Once the crisis kicks in, we're carried along not just by the momentum of events, but by the precision with which they're depicted. Greengrass is scrupulous about making us confident that we're watching a reconstruction of known events in a known order. His actualism is nothing if not immersive—Christopher Rouse's whiplash editing, Barry Ackroyd's camera pelting down corridors and ladders or rocking with the sea, the dramatic enclosure that kicks in when Phillips is taken captive and the action cuts to the claustrophobically enclosed capsule of a lifeboat.

Captain Phillips arrives on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, January 21. The 86th annual Academy Award nominations, which the film is expected to receieve several of, will be announced on Thursday, January 16.

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