Will Debate Over 'Captain Phillips' Story Sink Its Oscar Hopes?

We've seen this story before come Oscar season.

A film based on actual events hits theaters, generates glowing reviews and then critics complain that the movie doesn't mirror reality.

Consider A Beautiful Mind, the Ron Howard feature on troubled genius John Nash. That 2001 film accumulated serious Oscar buzz until news spread that the screen version of Nash differed from the real person in significant ways. Mind survived the backlash and won the Best Picture Oscar that year.

Now, a new movie starring Tom Hanks is getting heat from the people who lived through the ordeal depicted in the film.

Captain Phillips, which earned a respectable $25 million over the weekend, is based on the 2009 kidnapping of a U.S. captain (played by Hanks) by Somali pirates. The film boasts a 94 percent "fresh" rating at Rottentomatoes.com, a major film review aggregate site, and many critics say the film and/or Hanks should be nominated for an Oscar.

The crew members who endured the kidnapping argue the movie unfairly portrays the title figure as a hero.

Phillips wasn’t the big leader like he is in the movie,” says one crew member, who, for legal reasons, spoke with The Post anonymously. He worked very closely with Phillips on the Maersk Alabama and was alarmed by his behavior from the beginning.

The crew members allege Phillips led them into dangerous waters, insisted they go through with a fire drill when pirates were approaching the craft and generally acted in a way that didn't keep them safe.

The fight off screen will continue for some time. Crew members are suing the boating company behind the mission and reporters will likely listen when they want to correct what they see as inaccuracies in the film.

Meanwhile, the team behind Captain Phillips must hope its sturdy box office take and positive reviews will help it find safe harbor when Oscar voting begins.


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