Movies We Like
In 1950s Los Angeles, three cops with very different styles, try solving a multiple homicide. Along the way, they face off against each other, as well as the corruption that runs rampant in the City of Angels.
The screen adaptation by Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland (Payback), beautifully translates a very complex multi-layered story, based on the crime novel by James Ellroy. The characterization is very strong, the dialogue is razor-sharp, and the plot structure is intricate, but aptly realized. The two men won an Academy Award for their efforts.
Curtis Hanson (Wonder Boys) directs this cop story with bullet precision; pulling great performances out of his actors, across the board. The cinematography by Dante Spinotti and the production design by Jeannine Oppewall, brings vibrant life to the glitz and glitter of Tinseltown of yesteryear.
L.A. Confidential provides three wonderfully developed and complex leads. Kevin Spacey (American Beauty) is sly and witty as “Hollywood Jack” Vincennes. Russell Crowe (Gladiator) is a boilermaker ready to explode as Officer “Bud” White. And fellow Australian, Guy Pearce (Memento) plays Lt. Ed Exley-- the film’s moral backbone with unbreakable resolve. All three characters have a strong arch: Vincennes grows a conscience, White learns to use his head before his hands, and book smart Exley becomes a hero with a gun.
The supporting group of actors, are all top-notch. Kim Basinger (The Door in the Floor) gives perhaps the finest performance of her career, as the “hooker with a heart of gold.” She plays what is normally a stock character, found in many noir stories, with intelligence and grace -- taking home an Oscar for it. British actor, James Cromwell (Babe) is solid as the Irish chief of police who doesn’t mind bending the law to serve his criminal needs. David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck) is wonderfully sleazy as a porn producer and pimp. And as an unscrupulous, backstabbing tabloid publisher, DeVito (TV’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) gives one of the best performances in his long career.
With every department delivering on all cylinders, L.A. Confidential stands out as a timeless, masterfully crafted work of modern cinema.
L.A. Confidential won 2 Oscars: Best Supporting Actress (Kim Bassinger) and Best Adapted Screenplay. It was nominated 7 additional Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director.