Release Year: 2008
Director: Ron Howard
Writers: Peter Morgan (screenplay – based on his 2006 play Frost/Nixon)
Starring: Michael Sheen, Frank Langhella, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Matthew Macfadyen, Rebecca Hall, Toby Jones, Andy Milder, Patty MCormack
Rating: Nominated for 5 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Frank Langhella), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing. Nominated for 5 Golden Globes: Best Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Actor – Drama (Frank Langhella), Best Screenplay, Best Original Score.
The dramatic story of the famous post-Watergate television interview between flamboyant talkshow host David Frost (Michael Sheen) and pormer U.S. president Richard Nixon (Frank Langhella).
The Watergate scandal not only cost Richard Nixon the presidency, it also changed American politics indefinitely and cast long shadows that last to this day. Therefore it remains a subject that fascinates. Ron Howard’s (Apollo 13, 1995) adaptation of Peter Morgan’s play tackles this complex historical event through a small lens, focussing on a small event that not only encapsulated the larger event but also proved important for the legacy of both parties involved. The womanizing and shallow talkshow host Frost stakes his reputation and fortune on earning his wings as a serious interviewer, while the disgraced president eyes an opportunity to influence his legacy. It proves a battle of intellects and only won can win. Langhella earned a Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Nixon, a very good performance if only a passable impression. Sheen, on the other hand, nails David Frost, having a natural talent for imitation. That is not to say that he merely sounds like Frost, he is very good throughout and both actors are best when they play off of each other. Around them is an excellent cast of supporting actors, especially Sam Rockwell (The Way Way Back, 2013) as one of Frost’s researchers with an axe to grind against Nixon and Bacon (Mystic River, 2003) is his opposite as the clean-cut Nixon ally. Platt (The Three Musketeers, 1993) is, as also, highly entertaining. The story is slow and builds to an intense climax, yet never achieves greatness despite good work allround. Recommended to fans of political or journalistic dramas.
The midnight phone call between Frost and Nixon never actually happened. Writer Peter Morgan got his inspiration from a number of well-known such late night calls from Nixon to cabinet members during Watergate.
Picture Copyright: UIP