This is another one of those defining cinematic moments. I remember seeing this film with my father in fall of 1997 and, for once, not really knowing a thing about it. I knew it was a period piece, that it had Kevin Spacey and Kim Basinger in it, and that was about it.

I had no idea what I was in for.

Based on James Ellroy’s sprawling novel of the same name, it tackles corruption and crime in 1950s Los Angeles through the eyes of three very different police officers. What amazes me most about this film is the adaptation. I read the novel about ten years ago, and that story has four or five times the amount of key characters and takes place over the course of seven or eight years. Director Curtis Hanson, with Brian Helgeland, co-wrote the screenplay that pares down the story immensely without ever letting up on the gas.

Titanic is truly a cinematic achievement and a marvel, and I love that film a whole lot. But I have always felt cheated that the big boat swept away all the awards from this film in 1997. Basinger did get a Best Supporting Actress statue, as well as the aforementioned pair for writing.

The interlaced storylines are executed perfectly, and it’s great to watch Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce’s stars rise.

This used to be my #2. The current #2 used to be my #1. What is it?

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