Movie: American Gangster
Director/Studio: Ridley Scott / Universal
10 Word Review: Alongside "solid" in the 2007 film yearbook, you'll find this.
Best Thing About It: The squishy morality of the whole thing is pretty interesting throughout. Scott never makes the mistake of denying what a charismatic figure the local drug lord can be, but the more interesting decision is how he employs the standard implosion of the criminal (the part of the movie where Ray Liotta sweats a lot and screams at Lorraine Bracco) and directs it outward. Frank Lucas doesn't destroy himself, he destroys his community. Similarly, Russell Crowe rides the virtuous lawman/shitty human being line.
Worst Thing About It: Well, after all that meticulous upkeep of the film's moral ambiguity, we get an ending where the two movie stars team up to take out the unambiguously bad cops. I understand it's based on a true story, but it's a total letdown, storywise.
Best Performance: Remember how after all that hoo-hah (so to speak) about DeNiro and Pacino facing off in Heat, and then DeNiro just blew Pacino away? It's kinda like that here, only Denzel loses out to Crowe by being the same old boring charmer Denzel he always is (as opposed to acting like a giant Christmas ham like Pacino did). Crowe doesn't win best in show honors by default, though. In fact, for an actor I haven't cared for for a long time, he's delivered two great performances this year, in this movie and 3:10 To
Oscar Prospects: Lots, thanks to the robust box office and the pedigree of the director and stars. Right now, I'm saying it's in line for Picture, Director, and Actor (Washington) nominations, and all the tech nominations that would come with it.