Personal Score: 10/10
There have been many great films set in the City of Angels: Chinatown, Mulholland Drive, The Player. But the film that sits atop that prestigious mountain of excellence is L.A. Confidential, a mesmerizing film that peels back the glitz and glamour of '50s L.A. to reveal the seedy, filthy muck of criminals, drugs, prostitution, and murder that lied beneath it all.
What makes L.A. Confidential so brilliant is that while it has a great plot, it isn't reliant on it. This is a character film, and Los Angelas is perhaps the central character. It is a film about crime in L.A., about how it is done and how it is fought against. Each character is portrayed with such subtlety, each scene crafted with such precision, that one truly can't help but admire it.
Kevin Spacey is outstanding as Jack Vincennes, a Hollywood cop who consults on a popular t.v. show. Guy Pearce is equally great as Ed Exley, a by the numbers detective who lusts after promotion and recognition, even if that means enduring the hatred of his fellow officers. Russell Crowe is a man on fire as Bud White, a man who dishes out hard justice even if he must bend the law to do so. Kim Basinger, who most deservedly won Best Supporting Actress, is amazing as Lynn Bracken, a Veronica Lake look-alike who slinks across the screen like the Hollywood sirens of old, and yet could stand very distinctly beside them.
I could go on and on with the actors, because there are many and each are outstanding. The plot I'll leave you to discover on your own. It is a brilliantly twisted tale where nothing is as it seems as danger lurks around every corner.
L.A. Confidential is a modern masterpiece that was unfortunately robbed of Best Picture by a certain James Cameron cash cow about a certain sinking ship. You may or may not have heard of it. Make no mistake, this was the best film of that year and one of the best of the '90s, and it should not be missed.