Tom Hanks is the Jimmy Stewart We Deserve

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Title: Bridge of Spies

Rating: 4 Stars

Let’s see now…

  • Director: Steven Spielberg, check
  • Screenplay: Coen brothers, check
  • Starring: Tom Hanks, check
  • Setting: Historical dram, check

Is there anyway that this movie couldn’t have gotten a best movie Oscar nomination?

The story, for those of you who don’t know it, is about the spy exchange of Rudolf Abel, a Soviet spy captured by the Americans, and Gary Francis Powers, a U-2 pilot shot down and captured by the Soviets. This exchange, on the American side, was brokered by a lawyer named Jim Donovan (Tom Hanks). I don’t really know much of the history except that the exchange did take place. I’m guessing that many liberties were taken with the actual details.

It was an exceedingly well done movie. It was beautifully shot. You really felt like you were in the 1950’s US and Germany.  Tom Hanks absolutely nails the decent, honorable everyman dedicated to doing the right thing no matter what obstacles are thrown his way (this might be his most Jimmy Stewart movie yet). Mark Rylance (who was unspeakably awesome as Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall) does an finely crafted portrayal of Rudolph Abel.

I see that the music score received an Oscar nomination as well, which considering that it had the subtlety of a sledgehammer both saddened me and did not surprise me.

Several characters throughout the movie acquire colds. There was a lot of sniffling going around. I really hope that this was some subtle expression of the interconnectedness of the various characters, be they American, German, or Russian; and not a statement of this being a ‘Cold’ war. If the latter, then someone needs to be taken out and punched in the head.

Just as an aside, this movie pretty seriously failed the Bechdel test. The only female characters that I remember are secretaries, cleaning ladies, the anguished German girlfriend of a captured American student, and Hank’s wife, whose main role seems to be to discourage Hanks from performing his everyday man actions of quiet heroism.  IMDB seems to back me up on this.

So, a well made movie. However, if not directed by Steven Spielberg and not starring Tom Hanks, I see no way that this ever gets the best picture Oscar nomination.

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