Tuesday, February 15, 2011

30 Days of Oscar Day 19: L.A. Confidential

Movie: L.A. Confidential
Year: 1998
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Supporting Actress (Kim Basinger), Sound, Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction, Adapted Screenplay
Wins/Snubs:  Kim Basinger deservedly took the win, though in a remarkably thin year.  Adapted Screenplay won too, again on a year that seemed to be all for them, oh and Titanic.

**Some spoilers**
I saw this when the movie first came out, but every time I went to watch it again I got distracted or decided I already knew everything about it.  So I decided it was time to revisit this.  For a movie with this many big names, it's odd that all of them, EXCEPT the Oscar winner, still have pretty amazing careers.  I'm also surprised NONE of the men got nominated, though they got a SAG Ensemble nomination.  But Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, Danny Devito, James Cromwell, David Strathairn, are really a group of actors that can't be beat, and I suppose none of them stand out from the crowd or really create a supporting character with a great distinction, they're all so wrapped up in the complexities of the story that it's hard to single one performance above the rest.  Also, since so many of them don't survive the end of the movie (usually a requirement for a leading man - Braveheart being an obvious exception) none get the obvious leading vs supporting role.

However, it's really the story that shines.  A web of corruption in L.A. police department back in the 1950s all being exposed by a single crime that weaves together the film industry, the porn/escort industry and the mob.  You can't beat the complexity of the story - it really must be experienced from start to finish, individual scenes just bleed into one another and few completely stand alone.  However, it's also not hard to understand and most things come down to money and power.  Capturing the feel of the 50's is part of where all the technical awards must have come from - the look of the movie, the color, costumes, make-up, and sweeping views of LA all provide a strong atmosphere to give it an other-worldly feel that doesn't make for a scary movie, but rather a thriller.  And honestly, the soundtrack brings you into that world almost as much as the clothes and makeup.   Kevin Spacey's my favorite character.  Watching his obsession with the TV industry and then realizing he's also a cop who is supposed to be doing good things, just at the moment it's all taken away gets me every time.  Still a 5 of 5 stars/lambs kind of film.


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Poor Kim. I don't love this movie, though I do like it, and her performance probably wouldn't make my top 5 but I always wish her career went better than it did.

Castor said...

Glad you loved this film Jess! One of my very favorite of all-time. Dark, old fashioned and intricate, it's a great story that is wonderfully captured on film.

cinemasights said...

It took me a while to get into the story, but once I did it was a fascinating picture weaved with the best kind of twists and turns.

Perhaps the only time I've really liked a Russel Crowe performance. And Guy Pearce is amazing in this film. Then again, he's amazing in everything.

Jess said...

Andrew - you're totally right, I don't know what happened to her career, she was doing a pretty great job in the 90s but it just fell off.

Castor - I love that it feels dark, and there are some scenes are night, but they infuse the LA-ness of it all by having lots of lights and bright color saturated scenes.

James - I think you guys said it really well on the recent LAMBcast - Guy Pearce needs to do more great work!