Based on the incredible true story is a phrase so often affixed to a hearty Oscar contender, and Craig Gillespie’s upcoming maritime thriller The Finest Hours is no different. As a matter of fact, in bumping Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book into April of next year, Disney steered Gillespie’s feature into the thick of awards season.
It’s by no means the only thriller of its kind competing for Oscar glory, though, with Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea also eyeing Academy recognition, though rather than coming face-to-face with a sperm whale of colossal size, The Finest Hours reads like a more focused, real-life thriller, charting the phenomenal bravery of the North Eastern coast guard in 1952.
It was here that a fierce storm hit New England and ripped the SS Pendleton into two, scattering its crew into the bitter-cold waters of the North Atlantic. Battling hypothermia and the storm itself, it was the unyielding valour displayed by the coast guard – led by Chris Pine’s Captain Bernie Webber – that lent a flickering sense of hope to those trapped in the wreckage of the sinking ship.
Joining Pine on the high seas are Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, and Holliday Grainger, while the ensemble is rounded out by Eric Bana, Graham McTavish, Kyle Gallner, Rachel Brosnahan, Josh Stewart, Abraham Benrubi, John Ortiz, and Beau Knapp.
The Finest Hours will dock in theaters on January 29.
On February 18, 1952, a massive nor’easter struck New England, pummeling towns along the Eastern seaboard and wreaking havoc on the ships caught in its deadly path, including the SS Pendleton, a T-2 oil tanker bound for Boston, which was literally ripped in half, trapping more than 30 sailors inside its rapidly-sinking stern. As the senior officer on board, first assistant engineer Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) soon realizes it is up to him to take charge of the frightened crew and inspire the men to set aside their differences and work together to ride out one of the worst storms to ever hit the East Coast. Meanwhile, as word of the disaster reaches the U.S. Coast Guard station in Chatham, Massachusetts, Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana) orders a daring operation to rescue the stranded men. Despite overwhelming odds, four men, led by Coast Guard Captain Bernie Webber (Chris Pine), set out in a wooden lifeboat with an ill-equipped engine and little, if any, means of navigation, facing frigid temperatures, 60-foot high waves and hurricane-force winds.