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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

February 19, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Oscar countdown: ‘Captain Phillips’

Our alphabetical march through the Best Picture nominees continues today with “Captain Phillips,” the gripping drama about a U.S. container ship hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. Like many of the nominees in this category (six out of nine), “Captain Phillips” is based on a true story — and on a memoir written by Captain Richard Phillips, the character played in the movie by Tom Hanks. Many Oscar watchers, myself included, were shocked that Hanks didn’t turn up in the Best Actor category; this performance, particularly the movie’s final act, stands among the finest of his career.

Still in theaters? No, but it’ll turn up at the Lincoln Square in Bellevue as part of next week’s Oscar Week screenings. Or you can watch it on the small screen, via streaming or DVD.

Total U.S. box office: $106 million (fourth among the nine Best Picture contenders)

Total Oscar nominations: Six, for best picture, supporting actor (Barkhad Abdi), adapted screenplay, film editing, sound mixing and sound editing.

Best chance for a win: “Captain Phillips” looks likely to go home empty-handed in the major categories, but could well score in sound or film editing.

Odds of this movie creating some fabulous Oscar-night weirdness: Well, it’d be fun if Captain Phillips himself showed up, and perhaps he might. (He doesn’t look much like Tom Hanks.) And it’d be a kick if Barkhad Abdi won supporting actor — he’s a native of Somali who moved to Minneapolis with his family as a teenager (learning English from “Seinfeld” episodes) and, at the time of his “Captain Phillips” audition, was a limo driver who’d never acted before. Now he’s walking red carpets and winning awards (he took the BAFTA for supporting actor last weekend). Not sure I’d bet on him, though; Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”) seems to have the award sewn up.

Fun fact: Greengrass, in his usual fashion, worked meticulously to make sure that the film was accurate, but apparently he didn’t catch everything. Phillips, watching the film in his hometown in Vermont, noted that “at the opening of the movie when it shows me going to work on a four-lane highway, everyone was laughing. We don’t have four-lane highways in Vermont.”

930353 - Captain Phillips

He shoulda been a contender: Tom Hanks in “Captain Phillips” (photo copyright 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.)

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