Despite COVID-19 changing just about everything in the world in 2020, it was a pleasant surprise to see how many strong Christmas Day movie releases still happened this year. News of the World, a Western drama starring Tom Hanks, made its December 25 release date in theaters, and was given an early on-demand release last week. That means you can stay in your pajamas, not have to sneak a bunch of food into the theater (who does that?), and watch this exceptional movie from the comfort of your own home, right here on Sling!
Adapted from the 2016 novel of the same namy by Paulette Jiles, News of the World tells the story of a young girl (Helena Zengel) who is taken by the Kiowa people. Captain Kyle Kidd (Hanks), a former Confederate Infantry soldier who travels town-to-town reading the news for the illiterate, discovers her alone in the woods. With the Bureau of Indian Affairs representative away, he attempts to return her to her family himself, embarking on a long journey across Texas in hopes of reaching her relatives in San Antonio.
I can sense your thoughts already: “I hate Westerns!” Well guess what, so do I! But that didn’t deter me from properly enjoying this cowboy blockbuster. What makes it special is its modern-day storytelling techniques and strong performances from both Hanks and newcomer Zengel. This is not a typical Western focused on gun fights and men. Rather, News of the World is a story of two unlikely partners who must come together to survive - and only one knows how to fire a gun.
I’m starting to think there’s not a role in the world that Tom Hanks can’t play. But even as he’s grown older and expanded his vast resume, I’m convinced News of the World is his best role in roughly the last five years. In recent films like Greyhound (2020) and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019), I found Hanks’s presence quite distracting, ruining my suspension of disbelief. But whether it’s his acting or the engulfing cinematography, I had no issues here.
Equally impressive was Zengel’s performance. The 12-year-old (yes, 12!) hails from Berlin, Germany, and News of the World is her first American role. I won’t be surprised if there are more Hollywood gigs in her future. Her young age is astounding, even to Hanks himself, who said that calling her just a child actor isn’t giving her enough credit. So if you have any doubts about the quality of the cast, you can put them to rest.
News of the World is bound to be nominated for plenty of awards this season, and it's even in the race for the 2021 Best Picture Oscar. It’s already received critical acclaim, including an impressive 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. And best of all, it’s now available as an early-to-on-demand rental right now on Sling.
News of the World is available to rent for a one-time purchase of $19.99. You can even rent it without a sling subscription using the link below!