Expertly crafted adaptation, by writer-director Curtis Hanson and co-writer Brian Helgeland, of James Ellroy's densely plotted crime novel about police corruption in 1950s Los Angeles. Cynical, morally complex, and hugely entertaining with a film noir style that is the best of the genre since "Chinatown." The performances are uniformly excellent: Russell Crowe is the brutish detective, Bud White; Guy Pearce is the righteous, self-serving Ed Exley; Kevin Spacey is the jaunty Jack Vincennes, who is the technical advisor of a Dragent-style TV show; Kim Basinger is the sultry femme fatale Lynn Bracken; Danny DeVito is the smug tabloid newspaper editor; James Cromwell is the corrupt police Capt. Dudley Smith. As the story unfolds it comprises organized crime, heroin, prostitution, pornography, political corruption, tabloid journalism, and institutional racism in great detail. Amazingly, the filmmakers pare away the extraneous plotting and characters of the novel without sacrificing any of the complexity. The ending lacks the sting of the book but its just as satisfying. A modern classic, this is one of the greatest screen adaptations. Hanson and Helgeland won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Basinger won for Best Supporting Actress. The atmospheric production design is by Jeannine Oppewall; evocative cinematography by Dante Spinotti; dour music score by Jerry Goldsmith. With David Strathairn, Ron Rifkin, Graham Beckel, Paul Guilfoyle, Matt McCoy. It became only the second movie to sweep the four major critics awards for best film. Selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.