There are lots of reasons to think of Tom Hanks in conjunction to this year's Academy Awards season. The obvious one is the nomination of "Captain Phillips" as Best Picture, in which he plays the lead role as the captain of a ship in jeopardy. But some fans may also think of him when watching "Gravity," a very contemporary story of astronauts lost in space. Over the years, Hanks has appeared in many films that were nominated for or won Oscars. In 1995, it was Hanks who was a risk for being unable to return to earth in the award-winning "Apollo 13."
Unlike "Gravity," "Apollo 13" is based on a true story. In it, Hanks plays Jim Lovell, an astronaut assigned to Apollo 13, which is to take him and his crew to the moon. Just as he was a respected leader in "Captain Phillips," the same traits are evident in his leadership of the men of Apollo 13. These men are Fred Haise (played by Bill Paxton) and Jack Swigert (played by Kevin Bacon). While in space, their ship suffers internal damage, and they must find a way to safely return to earth. At NASA, the unflappable Gene Kranz (played by Ed Harris) and his team work hard to help them find a way to come home.
"Apollo 13" is very well-directed by Ron Howard. The scenes in space feel very real as we see the astronauts floating around. One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is when the ship first launches, which also feels very authentic.
The cast of the movie is excellent. Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon are all very good. They provide the audience with astronauts who are real on the one hand, the good guys next door, but on the other hand smart, adventurous, and heroic. Another great performance is by Kathleen Quinlan, who plays Jim's loyal, but strong-willed wife. She is very worried about her husband, and she is determined to protect herself, her family, and the families of the other astronauts from exploitation. Quinlan's performance earned an Oscar nomination.
"Apollo 13" ranks among Ron Howard's best films.