Thursday, December 15, 2016

Effective Collaboration Between Director and Star Made 'Sully' a Worthwhile, Moving Biopic

Sully (also subtitled Miracle on the Hudson) is a biographical drama film based on the autobiography Highest Duty.  It’s about the real-life story of commercial pilot Captain Chesley “Sulley” Sullenberger (played by Tom Hanks) who pulled off making an astounding emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River after it struck a flock of geese, saving the lives of all its passengers.  Initially lauded as a national hero, investigations soon implied that the accident was likely due to pilot error.  With his career and reputation threatened, Sully had to prove that his account of the events was true, and that he had made the right calls during the incident.  On top of this, he also had to struggle with PTSD.

First and foremost, Tom Hanks once again delivered a superb performance in this movie.  It’s something expected from an actor of his caliber, really.  Even in the bad films he’s in, you can count on his performance to be a redeeming quality for that film (like the Robert Langdon movies).  But, of course, his presence as a brilliant actor on a film is much more appreciated if the said film is actually good, as it gives him more positives to work with and feed on.  Such is the case with Sully.

On a lesser degree – but a nonetheless notable one – Aaron Eckhart also delivers a great performance as First Officer Jeffrey Skilles, Sully’s co-pilot.
Meanwhile, the direction from legendary director Clint Eastwood is masterful.   I like the non-chronological storytelling approach he used in the movie – shifting among the events during the investigation, the events of the flight in question and its eventual water landing and aftermath, his PTSD hallucinations, and flashbacks to Sully’s days – producing a profound effect on its dramatic flow.  Overall, Eastwood did a fantastic job in telling this extraordinary story in a fittingly riveting manner, avoiding the lure of excessive romanticization, while at the same time, pay tribute to the heroism and character of its subject person.

Message-wise, I don’t think Sully is a relevantly “must-watch” biopic as Snowden is.  But as far as overall crafting of a movie goes, it’s definitely the best biopic I’ve seen this year, as it efficiently utilized the strengths of the reliably stellar talents that collaborated on it (especially Hanks and Eastwood) to make a worthwhile, moving film about a remarkable individual.

Thus, it’s only right that this movie is enjoying Oscar nomination buzz for Best Picture, Director (for Eastwood), Actor (for Hanks), and Supporting Actor (Eckhart).

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