Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Sully - 1 nomination
Sound Mixing - Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
Surely you already know the story of Chelsey "Sully" Sullenberger who heroically landed a plane in the Hudson to save all of the passengers on board after birds flew into and knocked out several of its engines. This film dramatizes that landing and the investigation that took place in its aftermath by the National Travel Safety Board. The story shows officials' suspicions that the landing was actually a result of pilot error. It's an intense film and the best part of the movie was when they showed what transpired in the cockpit while the emergency was taking place. Tom Hanks was on everyone's "will be nominated for Lead Actor" list. I wouldn't have been surprised to see it on a possible Best Picture list.
But here's the part that you only find out when you do a little research on your own. The bulk of the story focuses on what feels like a witch hunt to prove that the pilots were at fault. The dramatic hearings squarely depict seemingly disappointed NTSB officials who, upon realizing that there was no pilot error, must begrudgingly admit that he is innocent of the charges. This never happened. There was indeed an NTSB investigation as is required of all flights that have disastrous or near-disastrous endings. By all accounts, the report that the NTSB issued following the investigation praised Sully for saving the passengers and crew. And the simulations that are depicted in the film to demonstrate pilot error? Well, in real life, they only predicted an ability to get to another airport in about half of the attempts.
I know I say this with at least one film every year. Narrative movies are not documentaries. Filmmakers have no obligation to show you the events as they occurred. They have no obligation to do research, to show a balanced view of the actual story, or to deliver anything other than entertainment. (I say this now and well in advance of my forthcoming review of "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi," which will surely be more controversial.) To take biographic films as gospel of real life events is an error in judgement.
So, while I enjoyed the film and the sound mixing is terribly well done, I am glad that this film didn't become the official narrative of the amazing Sully Sullenberger. The truth of his story will always be more impressive and more heroic than this film could ever depict.