Captain Phillips is a film directed by Paul Greengrass, with a screenplay by Billy Ray. The film tells the true-life story of the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama container ship off the coast of Somalia. The film focuses on Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) and his courageous journey while taken hostage by Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi) and his group of pirates.
Captain Phillips is a pulse-pounding thriller, but I honestly did not expect anything less from Paul Greengrass—he directed both United 93 and The Bourne Ultimatum, two well-made, award-nominated thrillers. The filmmaking style in this movie is quite similar to that of United 93, and here, Greengrass has created another instant classic in cinematic history. Each scene throughout this film is forceful in every way, and this terrifying tale receives a committed, marvelous exploration from Paul Greengrass.
Another factor of Captain Phillips that warrants its place in my Top 10 is the superb acting performances, including remarkable performances from seasoned veteran Tom Hanks and from rookie Barkhad Abdi. As Captain Richard Phillips, Tom Hanks brings his years of dramatic acting to the screen, and the result is something magical, even for a man with so many award-winning performances. With every passing moment, you truly feel both the fear and composure of Hanks’s character, and his display of acting greatness fully immerses you into the hijacking in a way that will keep you on the edge of your seat—it sure did for me.
Even with a dazzling performance from Tom Hanks, the greatest part of this film was Barkhad Abdi’s portrayal of the real-life Abduwali Muse, the leader of the Somali pirates. If you are not aware of Abdi’s story, he moved from Somalia to Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his family in 1999, and before auditioning for the film, he worked as a limousine driver. Before the film, Abdi had absolutely zero acting experience, and that fact alone would make anyone fawn over his performance in Captain Phillips. His character is menacing, yet weak at the same time, and Abdi delineates this character with such poise and refinement. Abdi is considered a serious contender for the Oscar this season, especially after winning for Best Supporting Actor at the BAFTAs.
The film takes you on a wild ride, and I did not see another film in 2013 that put me more on edge. It received six Academy Award nominations, which is definitely deserved, but I was surprised that neither Tom Hanks nor Paul Greengrass were nominated because this film is one of the highlights of each of their storied careers. Captain Phillips is rated PG-13 for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use.
Captain Phillips trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3ASoBrFGlc
Academy Award nominations for Captain Phillips:
Best Picture (Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, and Michael De Luca, Producers)
Best Supporting Actor (Barkhad Abdi)
Best Film Editing (Christopher Rouse)
Best Sound Editing (Oliver Tarney)
Best Sound Mixing (Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, and Chris Munro)
Best Adapted Screenplay (Billy Ray)
Previous movies on the countdown of the Top 15 Films of the Year:
13. Fruitvale Station
14. The Place Beyond the Pines
15. Dallas Buyers Club