5 Reasons Why “Captain Phillips” Was The Most Accomplished Film Of 2013

By Langston Teijeiro

Hello, fellow cinephiles. I hope that you are settled in after “12 Years a Slave” won the big award and “Gravity” became the big winner (7 Academy Awards). As we are preparing for another fall season, I figured it would be beneficial to take a trip back down memory lane as I explain why Paul Greengrass’ masterpiece (Bloody Sunday, United 93, The Bourne Supremacy, etc.) known as “Captain Phillips” was truly the biggest triumph of 2013. 

Though there are many more, here are 5 reasons why:

1) What Was Written:  As a screenwriter, I understand what it takes to make a film work behind the camera. Screenwriter Billy Ray’s approach was to adapt Richard Phillips’ memoir to an entertaining, thrilling, and thought provoking Docu-Drama. The script was a multi-layered examination of the 2009 event, rather than a dull lecture. This film was written with grace from beginning to end, making an intense, informative, and jaw dropping roller-coaster ride. Billy Ray’s writing efforts won him the Writer’s Guild of America Award in 2013, as well as an Academy Award nomination in 2014 for Best Adapted Screenplay. Well deserved, Mr. Ray…Well deserved.

2) What Wasn’t WrittenHave you ever heard the phrase: A screenplay is merely a blueprint? Well, it’s true. Nobody understands this concept better than masterful director, Paul Greengrass. With a resume that ranges from the critical acclaim of “United 93” to the commercial success of “The Bourne Supremacy”, Paul Greengrass’ approach to storytelling is recognized. Much of Captain Phillips was improvised, including the iconic line that first time actor, Barkhad Abdi, ad-libbed in, which is present in arguably the most iconic and powerful scene of the entire film. However, despite the power of that famous scene, the improvisation that captured my attention the most was the captivating ending in the infirmary on the ship.

 3) Technically, The Film Should Not Have Succeeded:  When one looks at the trailer for this film, it can be concluded that “Captain Phillips” is a typical, Hollywood propaganda piece meant to sell tickets and entertainment to jaded audiences. However, thanks to Scott Rudin, Kevin Spacey, Dana Brunetti, and Michael De Luca, this film is a golden treasure that embarks and captivates, rather than merely entertains.

 4) Launched Careers: It’s always a beautiful thing to see a pack of newcomers from Minnesota shine on a big screen and, at times, steal the show from a Two-Time Academy Award Winner. However, there is one Somali from Minnesota who completely nailed his performance. Barkhad Abdi shines in this epic with no prior acting experience. His menacing demeanor, facial expressions, and impeccable body language earned him an Academy Award Nomination, Golden Globe Nomination, Screen Actor’s Guild Nomination, and a British Academy Award win for Best Supporting Actor! Who is the captain now?

 5) Solidified Careers: What more can an artist do after they make history and pass their prime? Oh yeah, reach a second career peak. Throughout the film, Tom Hanks maintains a reserved, composed, and calm demeanor as the lead performer. However, in the third act in the lifeboat, Phillips’ composure runs out, and as the pirates are executed in a brilliant fashion, Hanks delivers in a way that no other actor could have. The ending in the infirmary shows Hanks’ prowess as an actor and he shows all of the reservation, composure, and calm being channeled through shock, distortion of speech, tears, and trauma. It’s the perfect examination of the human brain after it experiences a traumatizing occurrence which, in my opinion, equates to Hanks’ finest work to date.

With Henry Jackman’s score, Barry Ackroyd’s lighting, Greengrass’ brilliant ability to engage a story, and plenty of other technical challenges this film had to endure (Shooting in tight spaces, filming on the ocean, etc.),“Captain Phillips” diligently executes cinematic structures and formulas. However, it rebels in every way possible, making this film the greatest cinematic accomplishment of 2013.

Now all we can do is sit back, watch the news, and predict what story Paul Greengrass will grace us with next.

Langston Teijeiro is a 24 year old screenwriter based out of New York City and Los Angeles. He is currently in the process of planning his first directorial debut (Which he wrote himself) and should begin shooting Summer 2015. He was born and raised in Miami, FL, and graduated from Florida International University in August 2012.”

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