Starring: Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, David Strathaim, Simon Baker (his first film)
Director: Curtis Hanson
Summary: Detectives clash while investigating political corruption
Other Nominations: Director, Supporting Actress (Basinger)*, Adapted Screenplay*, Original Dramatic Score, Sound, Art Direction, Cinematography, Film Editing
While it does nothing all that new and covers ground that other great film noirs have, it was fresh for the time period and the execution is so good that it’s still a real joy to watch. Everything here feels so vibrant and alive, moving quickly with a lean and mean screenplay that trimmed what was a focus on eight characters in the source novel to just three, with great results. While the story is solid, it really is the three main characters arcs that carry the story along with the strong performances from those playing them (and really the performances of everyone involved). Basinger was the only one who got a nomination (and she won), which surprises me considering 1) Spacey is excellent and should have gotten a Supporting Actor nom, and 2) Basinger’s relatively small role compared to other members of the cast, although she’s perfect in it. Finally, the score feels nearly identical to Chinatown’s but hey, no need to fix what’s not broke for a noir set in Los Angeles. If you like noirs, this is a great one.