“Magnolia” – 1997. Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

With Melora Walters, Tom Cruise, Melinda Dillon, John C. Reilly, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ricky Jay, William H. Macy, Alfred Molina, with Jason Robards and Julianne Moore, and Phillip Baker Hall

“As the good book says: we may be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us.”

Nothing is a matter of chance – there is no such thing as luck. Paul Thomas Anderson who is undoubtedly the most important filmmaker of our generation takes us through a journey of crisscrossing lives in LA. There are ten major characters that are all linked together through one man – Earl Partridge (Jason Robards) who is a big wig television producer who is dying. He produces a game show (name?) “What Do Kids Know?” hosted by Jimmy Gator (Phillip Baker Hall) who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Jimmy’s wife Rose (Melinda Dillon) is supportive of him, loves him but can’t help but wonder about why their daughter Claudia (Melora Waters) is addicted to drugs and refuses to see them. Claudia starts a strange and odd romance with a police officer Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly).

There is a young child prodigy on the game show, Stanley (Jeremy Blackman), who is a direct reflection of the child prodigy thirty years ago, “Quiz Kid” Donnie Smith (who is played as an adult by William H. Macy). Earl Partridge’s caretaker is Phil Parma (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) who takes care of Earl while his wife Linda (Julianne Moore) drinks and swallows prescription drugs. Earl’s last wish is for Phil to get a hold of Earl’s estranged son, the egotistical motivational speaker who teaches men to “Seduce and Destroy” women – Frank T.J. Mackey (Tom Cruise).

If you followed this so far, it just gets even more unbelievably complicated from here with secondary characters that branch from the main ones. Alfred Molina comes back from his second PTA outing as Solomon Solomon – one of two brothers who run an electronics store that employs Donnie Smith because Solomon feels sorry for him. Tarantino alum Michael Bowen plays the struggling actor who’s Stanley’s father who is using his kid for the money he’ll earn. Frequent PTA and David Mamet player Ricky Jay acts as narrator and as Burt Ramsey, the director of “What Do Kids Know?” Luis Guzman is back in his comedic relief form as an Adult on the game show panel playing against the Kids. Henry Gibson is a philosophical drunk man who drinks at the same bar Donnie Smith does – the two muse together in a hostile relationship. And of course – Robert Downey, Sr. shows up as an operator in the control room of “What Do Kids Know?” and Thomas Jane has a two second cameo as a young Jimmy Gator.

This film is built upon it’s screenplay like every other Anderson film (since I don’t care at all for “Punch Drunk Love” I don’t acknowledge it as a PTA film) – but a great screenplay isn’t enough for an Anderson film. The original music by Aimee Mann is unbelievable which adds to the authenticity and remarkable showing of this film. Her music was the central foundation of this film – her music inspired Anderson to create the character of Claudia, and all the other characters were branched off from her. His usages of two Supertramp songs are just perfect – he’s ranked with Scorsese and Zach Snyder for his usage of popular music in film.

This film deals with the universal feelings of the absorbent emotional pain of loneliness and abandonment. After the prologue of Ricky Jay narrating three random events that at a quick glance all seem like a matter of chance – they are anything but. The film opens with Aimee Man covering Three Dog Night’s “One” and we are hurried and rushed through quick chaotic character introductions. What this film leaves us with is the signature plethora of beautiful long shots that Anderson is so well known for.

But, what truly makes this film absolutely wonderful is the exceptional cast of actors that bare their souls to us.

Jason Robards as Earl Partridge: Robards is a wonderful actor who seems to go overlooked even though he won two back to back Best Supporting Actor Oscars. He is unbelievably wonderful in this film. He’s an old lonely man who is bitter and left rambling about life, about “the goddamn regret”.

Melora Waters as Claudia: In an odd way Claudia is the bedrock of this film. You can totally see how Anderson wrote her first and how the other characters branched from her. She gives a painfully heartbreaking performance in the film. She’s amazing and you can’t help but think that she’s the alter ego to Aimee Man.

Tom Cruise as Frank T.J. Mackey: In an already impressive career Tom Cruise is the one who steals this film with a career best performance. He will never, ever be able to top his performance in this film. His character is so filled with absolute bullshit he actually believes it. The scene he shares with Jason Robards is one of the finest moments in cinema history.

Phillip Baker Hall as Jimmy Gator: This is by far my favorite character from the film. He’s this well liked and very distinguished man, but on the inside he’s hollow and heinous. I remember being in High School and seeing this film, and seeing Phillip Baker Hall and was amazed at what a terrific actor he really is.

John C. Reilly as Officer Jim Kurring: I know I’ve said this before, and of course I’ll say it again: remember when John C. Reilly was a good actor?

Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Phil Parma: This was the first film when I realized what an awe inspiring actor Hoffman really is. He’s pathetic and weak in this film – but in a way he’s the bridge that closes a lot of gaps. While watching this film, I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be his character with events that unfold.

William H. Macy as “Quiz Kid” Donnie Smith: Wow. Remember when William H. Macy was a good actor?

Julianne Moore as Linda Partridge: It’s almost as if she’s plays the daughter of her “Boogie Nights” character. Moore is at her best when she’s selfish, an addict and fucking insane. People talk about how they can’t believe Leonardo DiCaprio hasn’t won an Oscar yet – fuck that – Julianne Moore should get a Lifetime Achievement Oscar now.

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Jeremy Blackman as Stanley: Undoubtedly the weakest link in the cast – but he’s still pretty amazing for a child actor.

Melinda Dillon as Rose Gator: I’ve never felt so bad for someone in my entire life. Jesus…

There is a scene in this film that I had never, ever seen before. Most people give “Almost Famous” credit for a scene of this style. They are idiots. I can talk about this film for days. But I won’t – I’ll leave you with this:

“Boogie Nights” – 1997. Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

With Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Don Cheadle, Luis Guzman, John C. Reilly, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ricky Jay, Heather Graham, Thomas Jane, Alfred Molina with Robert Ridgley with Robert Downey, Sr. and Phillip Baker Hall.

Everybody has one special thing.

“Boogie Nights is the story of Eddie Adams, a young boy trying to find it place in life. The one thing that Eddie has that sets him apart from the rest of the boys is his enormous cock. Enter the world of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights”. You’ve all seen it, and if you haven’t I feel bad for you.

The film opens with a tremendously amazing opening long shot of the wonderful cast of characters in this film. The one continuous shot that Anderson creates here is a marvel of filmmaking (yes I am have seen “I am Cuba” and I know that’s where Anderson got the opening of his film from). With this long introduction we start outside the club “Boogie Nights” and carefully watch as legendary porn king Jack Horner (Reynolds) and his girlfriend Amber (Moore) enter. Through the bowels of the club, we are introduced to every important central character of the film.

Once things settle inside the club, Jack sees Eddie – and it’s love at first sight. They quickly form a bond that blossoms into a wonderful partnership. This is a simple generic “coming of age story” (GOD I HATE THAT TERM!) but it is so deeply complex. It’s this interweaving cast of characters that become so invested with the film and other characters and especially us, the audience.

Paul Thomas Anderson is the next Martin Scorsese.

PTA delivers us such an amazing feat – he doesn’t only show us the ups and downs of the characters, their births and redemptions, but also makes a complex story that is the film the prefaces “Magnolia” and shows us that this is the film “Crash” wanted to be.

The screenplay is unreal; it’s one of the best I’ve seen/read. But without a cast of excellent actors to match your excellent screenplay – you’re left holding the bag. Let me slightly digress:

Burt Reynolds – This is undoubtedly Reynolds’ finest performance. He is truly on fire in this film. The way his character flows, and commands our attention – we can’t take our eyes off of him, and his wonderful creamy hair and beard. Way to fuck up the rebirth of your career by punching PTA and publicly degrading the film – oh…but you got an Oscar Nomination for it. You were amazing in “Magnolia”…oh…wait.

Mark Wahlberg – People don’t give Marky Mark enough credit. When I was younger I thought he was the worst actor I’ve ever seen – but the joke of the matter is, that his character is a joke. He is just such a bimbo. I think Wahlberg getting nominated for “The Departed” might have been a slight make-up nomination.

Julianne Moore – Never in my life have I seen such a desperate character. All she wants is to love and be loved. She has a vacuum in her heart, and she tries to fill it with everything she possibly can. She is so amazing in the film – this is when I fell in love with her.

John C. Reilly – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Remember when he used to be a great actor?

William H. Macy – Another solid performance by one of the greatest character actors of the 1990’s.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman – The birth of an acting legend. It’s such a painful scene when Scottie professes his love to Dirk. It breaks what little is left of my heart.

Heather Graham – What happened to you? Your ass used to be beautiful.

Luis Guzman – This guy is almost as cool as Danny Trejo.

Don Cheadle – The scene that always sticks with me from the film is when he’s offered the chance to take that bag of bloody money during the botched robbery. Cheadle is covered in blood, his hands still in the air, everyone’s dead. Would you take that money?

Thomas Jane – In his small and vital role, he puts on a fucking clinic. What an amazing actor he is.

Alfred Molina – His part in the film is one of the most fucked up, stomach turning situations any character in film history has ever been in. That scene made me love “Sister Christian”.

Phillip Baker Hall – My AIM screen name all throughout high school was Floyd Gulondi (a misspelling of his last name in the film). That’s how much I loved his character.

Robert Ridgely – The Colonel…’nough said.

Robery Downey, Sr. – How fucking awesome for PTA to put RDS in his film. It’s so joyous to me when a younger filmmaker pays such a tribute to the filmmakers before him who inspired him. Rock on.

Ricky Jay – He’s awesome in everything he’s in. Way to get in with PTA and Mamet. I like his magic too.

Don’t you just love watching characters hitting rock bottom? I do. Watching the amazing cross cutting between Dirk Diggler jerking off for a guy in his truck for $10 – and watching Roller Girl (Heather Graham) getting nearly raped by a d-bag jock she went to high school with while Jack Horner sits and watches – Jesus Christ, it’s a lot to take in. Watching humans at their lowest form is such a humbling experience.

This film is very important to me.

This film is nothing less than poetic, marking the most poetic film that I have ever seen. All the characters are brought together in the beginning in a wonderful long shot – they’re all happy and living the disco dream – and in the end, they are all brought together once again in an incredibly amazing long shot – and once again, they’re happy, they are together. It just puts a smile on my face. God I love this film.

Rating: 10/10

PS: I bought this on Blu-Ray because I didn’t own the DVD and I thought that it would look really slick – you know the whole color schemes, the cinematography and what not. I did own the two disc special edition DVD when it came out WAY back in the day. It was the first film I ever watched with director’s commentary. While I was at college, I left it at my then girlfriend’s apartment. Needless to say we broke up after she flew to Ireland to have sex with this Italian pharmacist she met. No, I’m not making this up. It’s actually a pretty funny story now looking back, but when it was happening it was like a movie. But anyway she’s happily living in California working for the Producers Guild of America dating some rich guy and I’m still here in Chicago still paying off my credit card debt from that little deceptive twat. Anywho – I was disappointed with the Blu-Ray of “Boogie Nights”, I could tell that it was Blu-Ray but wasn’t that great. No need to make the jump for “Boogie Nights”.

Top 25 1/2 Performances of the Decade

I intended on making a list of Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress (I did start with Supporting Actor). But I thought it would be better to lump them all into one solid and concrete list. I’m sure there is going to be much disagreement. So, let me know what you guys think.

25. – Richard Gere as Billy Flynn in “Chicago”

I honestly think Gere gets a bad rap – he’s an extremely talented actor who began the second act of his career with “Chicago”. They found the most unbelievable actor to sing and dance – and he knocked it out of the park. Gere supports this film on his shoulders and completely holds it together. His performances in this film paved the way for his roles in “The Hoax”, “I’m Not There”, and “Brooklyn’s Finest”. And what’s with “rom-coms”? Can people stop fucking saying that? It’s so annoying.

24. – Anne Hathaway as Kym in “Rachel Getting Married”

I didn’t see this film until about a couple of months ago. I don’t know why I strayed away from it for so long. I’ve always had this love for Jonathan Demme (even though I think “Silence of the Lambs” is grossly overrated and “Manhunter” is a far superior film). The way Hathaway breaks out of her typecast and breaks our hearts is wonderfully painful to watch. A quick note: I love the movie a lot, but the part I find most distracting (no, it’s not the wedding montage, I liked that part) is the actor who plays the best man of the wedding is like this shitty hybrid of George Clooney and Kevin Spacey. Weird.

23. – Ray Liotta as Henry Oak in “Narc”

Ray Liotta has made a whirlwind of shit. He’s always enjoyable for me, even if he is walking through his role in “Wild Hogs”. I can’t help but always be captivated by him, I think he’s an incredible actor and has this way of commanding your attention. His performance in “Narc” is just fantastic. He plays the clichéd rage induced cop who’s seeking the killer of his partner. Liotta gained about 40 pounds for his role – and what adds to the gaining of weight, is the realism of the flashback sequences where Liotta’s character appears fit and trim. If you haven’t seen this film, do so soon.

22. – Robert Downey, Jr. as Paul Avery in “Zodiac”

This seems like an easy sell, Downey, Jr. playing an alcoholic, drug addicted and charming beat reporter. But this was really the first role that he got to sink his teeth into since he’s troubled past. With his past experience with drugs and alcohol I feel as if Downey, Jr. could really play this character that spirals out of control to full authenticity.

21. – Mickey Rourke as Randy the Ram in “The Wrestler”

This is one of the best performances I have ever seen. What keeps this from getting higher on my list is the fact that I’m not sure how much actual “acting” Rourke does. I think he took elements of his personal life and mimicked them to Randy the Ram’s life. I know some people disagree, but I think that Penn’s winning his second Oscar for “Milk” was the correct performance to reward. Without “The Wrestler” Rourke would have fallen back to Eric Roberts land.

20. – Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb in “Requiem for a Dream”

The fact that Burstyn lost to Julia Roberts makes me sick. I like Julia Roberts, she’s cute, funny, and has an amazing sparkle in her eye. That being said: she’s not an Oscar winning actress (although more so than Bullock or Berry). Ellen Burstyn gives the performance of her career in this film. This film may be the roughy of all roughies – and due to her performance this film will stay in my mind forever.

19. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Jack Slavin in “The Ballad of Jack and Rose”

Day-Lewis gives a remarkable performance in his most flawed film. He balances inner rage and compassionate love for his daughter Rose. You find yourself loathing his character due to his selfishness and incest riddled relationship with his daughter – yet you find it in your heart to forgive him, and to understand his true love for Rose.

18. – Paul Newman as Jack Rooney in “Road to Perdition”

Newman should have won a Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in this film. I felt that Cooper winning was his make-up Oscar for not even being nominated for “American Beauty”. I feel that Newman gives one of his most subtle performances in this film. He’s the loving father figure to Tom Hanks, but has to chose between his own son (Daniel Craig) and Tom Hanks. One of the most heartbreaking scenes ever filmed is when Tom Hanks finally catches up with Newman.

17. – Daniel Craig as James Bond in “Casino Royal”

This is how you reboot a franchise! I am a James Bond super freak and I own them all. I’ve had a liking for each individual Bond (even George Lazenby). I’ve felt that the producers have always gotten it right for 007. I remember being pissed when they signed Craig, I was a strong supporter of Clive Owen (who I still think would have been a great Bond – check out ANY BMW Films add on Youtube and you’ll see my point). Daniel Craig gives us the perfect James Bond. He’s a stone cold killer. The way James Bond should be.

16. – Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho”

I want to be Patrick Bateman (well…not the homicidal serial killer part). But deep down inside, don’t we all have an element of ourselves that is Patrick Bateman? Don’t we all from time to time get filled with disgust and greed? Or is it just me?

15. – Cate Blanchett as Sheba Hart in “Notes of a Scandal”

Blanchett is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, and she’s one of the greatest ACTORS ever. She’s just remarkable in everything she’s in (well…maybe not that last Indiana Jones movie). As Sheba Hart she engages into an inappropriate relationship with a 14 year old student of hers, which is both erotic and haunting. What she’s doing is wrong, but what gets done to her by Judi Dench is ten times worse.

14. – Alec Baldwin as Juan Tripp in “The Aviator”

Baldwin is remarkable in the way he’s rebuilt his career over the past decade. The guy went from being a tabloids wet dream. His personal life took a tremendous toll on his profession career, but with an Oscar nominated turn in “The Cooler” it spring boarded him into working with Scorsese, Robert DeNiro and his staple, “30 Rock”. As Juan Tripp he’s one of the most menacing corporate villains, standing second only to Gordon Gekko.

13. – Sean Penn as Paul Rivers in “21 Grams”

This is one of the most heartbreaking performances ever. How he won for “Mystic River” over “21 Grams” is bullshit. Probably because it was a Clint Eastwood film.

12. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill “the Butcher” Cutting in “Gangs of New York”.

Day-Lewis single handily saves this film from the utter nightmare it could have been. If he wasn’t in this film to counteract the terrible performance of Cameron Diaz and the miscasting of the decade of Leonardo DiCaprio – this film would have been a sheer train wreck of a great director’s most personal project. How he lost to Adrian Brody for “The Pianist”, I’ll never understand.

11. – Ted Levine as The Warden in “Shutter Island”

Levine was only in three scenes in this film. He had only one scene that last about ten minutes with dialogue. This is the perfect example of less is more; by showing us everything about this character without telling us one thing about him. Levine is absolutely jaw dropping in this role. He shows us what a great, great actor he really is. This film should pave the way for meatier roles on the horizon for Levine.

10. – David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow in “Good Night, Good Luck”

I think there is always hesitation when an actor takes on the role of an icon like Murrow. David Strathairn has always been one of my favorite character actors – from his roles in “Eight Men Out”, “The River Wild” and “LA Confidential”. In “Good Night, Good Luck” he finally becomes the leading man that he deserves to be. He’s absolutely amazing as Murrow and gives the performance of his career.

9. – Heath Ledger as The Joker in “The Dark Knight” and Enis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain”

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about his performance as the Joker. I guess the SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar said all that there could be said. And for “Brokeback”, he was overshadowed by PSH for “Capote”. What a shame, a real shame. It’s hard for me to pick which performance of his is better? Sometimes I lean towards The Joker, and other times I lean towards Enis. Face it, they’re both perfect.

8 ½. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido Contini in “Nine”

Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor I have ever seen. I will challenge anyone who claims that someone is better. Sure, you can throw around Bogart or Brando or DeNiro. But I will stack his performance in “My Left Foot” and “There Will Be Blood” against any Brando or DeNiro performance. In “Nine” Day-Lewis talks with a genuine Italian accent, and sings (though he’s no Dean Martin) in an Italian accent. He is brilliant in this film, just fucking brilliant.

8. – TIE: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep in “Doubt”

This is truly a team effort. The entire film is a battle of showmanship between Streep and Hoffman. The way they fight each other is as epic as Luke Skywalker battling Darth Vader. The display of their acting craft is monumental, and will bring anyone to their knees. Watch this if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s amazing to watch.

7. – George Clooney as Bob Barnes in “Syrianna”

Clooney completely broke his typecast in this role – more like fucking shattered it. He became an artist that year, actor, producer, director and writer. He’s a marvelous talent. This film is truly an ensemble piece that doesn’t have a lead actor – oil is the main focus and character of the film. But George Clooney brings the house down in his final scene. It floods me with overwhelming emotion every single time I see it.

6. – William Hurt as Richie Cussak in “A History of Violence”

This is the biggest example of less is more. The little screen time that Hurt is given, he uses it to the extreme. He’s absolutely unbelievable, and I think his character is much like that of Col. Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now”, he’s the final trial of the main character’s journey to return home to his family. His performance is burned into my brain. There are very few actors with raw talent like William Hurt.

5. – TIE: Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa in “Inglorious Basterds” and Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men”

This is much like Ledger’s role in “The Dark Knight”. There’s nothing more I can say about their PERFECT performance. There is a reason both of them swept critics awards, won the SAG, Golden Globes, BAFTA and Oscar. This was their major introduction to American audiences. That’s one helluva break through! To be honest, I do have to give the edge to Waltz. He’s amazing.

4. – Julianne Moore as Charlie in “A Single Man” and for Cathy Whitaker in “Far From Heaven”

Academy, please give her an Oscar already! I don’t care if it’s for a lifetime achievement award! Just someone, do something! She’s absolutely brilliant. ‘Nough said!

3. – Colin Firth as George in “A Single Man”.

Colin Firth gave a performance like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I’ve never see a performance that is so…empty. He’s unbelievably touching and gives a beautiful performance that brings me to my knees each time I see it. We need to see more Colin Firth. Now.

2. – Jeff Bridges as Ted Cole in “The Door in the Floor”

This is hands down Jeff Bridges finest performance. If you ever want to see an excellent, perfect, mind boggling performance, try and seek out Tod Williams’ “The Door in the Floor”. Bridges is heartbreaking, just plain heartbreaking. Ted Cole will stay in your heart forever.

1. – Daniel Day Lewis as Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood”

This is the biggest tour-de-force performance ever on screen.

Top Ten of the Year (Thus Far)

Top Ten Films of the Year

Here’s my top ten of the year thus far.  The notable films that I haven’t seen yet include “Nine”, “Avatar”, “An Education” and “Invictus”.  I would only assume that Avatar will make the cut, and maybe some more films.  So please dear reader, stay tuned.

1. “Antichrist” Dir. Lars von Trier.  With Williem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

2. “A Single Man” Dir. Tom Ford.  With Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Mathew Goode.

3.  “Up in the Air” Dir. Jason ReitmanWith George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman and Anna Kendrick.

4.  “Inglorious Basterds”.  Dir. Quentin Tarantino.  With Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, and Til Schweiger.

5.  “Bad Lieutenant:  Port of Call New Orleans” Dir. Werner Herzog.  With Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendes, Xibit, and Val Kilmer.

6.  “The Watchmen” Dir. Zach Snyder.  With Billy Crudup, Jeffery Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Mathew Goode and Jackie Earl Haley.

7.  “The Girlfriend Experience”  Dir. Steven Soderbergh.  With Sasha Grey and Chris Santos.

8.  “Taken” Dir.  Pierre Moral.  With Liam Neeson, Famke Jassen, and Xander Berkeley.

9. ????

10. ????

A review: “A Single Man” – 2009, Dir. Tom Ford – with Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, and Mathew Goode.

I endeavoured to a double feature today, seeing both “Crazy Heart” and “A Single Man“.  My first review is of Tom Ford’s “A Single Man”.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film.  I was looking forward to it almost as much as I was looking forward to seeing “Crazy Heart”.  This film blew me away.  This is Tom Ford’s first outing as a filmmaker (his previous occupation was that of a fashion designer at Gucci, and is credited in saving the company).  This film is brilliant in its color scheme and art direction.  The film is ultra aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but not overwhelming.  The entire film is saturated in color, and brings forth the minute details of the life.  Colin Firth stars in the day in a life of a closet homosexual who is a college professor in California.  We witness this day from the start, George waking up, haunted by the death of his sixteen year partner Mathew Goode.  George is in perfect isolation inside his home, while mentally preparing himself to face the world, face the day.  We see George preparing for his day, awaking, shaving, sitting at the breakfast table.

Colin Firth as George in "A Single Man".

I admit that I’m not well versed on Colin Firth’s filmography, I had seen him in “Love Actually” and known that he was in the Bridget Jones films, but had never seen them.  Firth absolutely brought me to my knees by his performance in the film.  He takes George in a direction that he needed to go.  He brought so much humanity and life into this character.  I felt an emotional connection with Firth in the film, by Firth baring his own soul, opening his heart and transforming into George.  It’s a beautiful showboat of a performance that is so rare to see, it is fact magical to watch.  Firth completely breaks your heart in this film.  He made this character real, instead of just being another character in another work of fiction.  This, by far, is the best performance of a lead actor this year (granted I still haven’t seen Freeman or Day-Lewis yet).  Firth deserves the Academy Award for his brilliant portrayal.

Not only is Firth breathtaking, but Moore and Goode deliver outstanding performances as well.  Mathew Goode plays George’s longtime partner, who while driving to Denver to visit his mother gets into a fatal accident in a snow storm.  Goode is seen through George’s reminiscences of the past, his fond and beautiful memories of Jim.  George emulates his way through his day-to-day routines frequently stopping at certain points when he notices something, remembers something about Jim.  Goode’s performance is so excellent. I am astounded that there isn’t any buzz around his supporting performance.  Jim is George’s lighthouse in humanity, he is the one thing that George enjoys and can be himself with.  Upon receiving the phone call about Jim’s accidental death, George visits his old friend from England that lives in California too, Charlotte (Julianne Moore).

Moore commands the few scenes that she’s in.  She is still sexy and ravishingly beautiful in her Jackie Kennedy style fashion.  She is devoted to George, and they share a physical – as well as emotional past.  It’s amazing how Moore finds her way into these art films, these melodramatic reworkings such as “Far From Heaven”, “The Hours”, and the magnificent “I’m Not There”.  Moore has this unique ability to perform on all cylinders yet allow Firth to dominate the scene, allow Firth to not be overshadowed by her raw talent.

Colin Firth and director Tom Ford.

The factor that really shows us the story is the cinematography, the editing, the costume design, the art direction – I could go on and on about how visually appealing the film is, but I won’t.  It’s amazing how Ford lets us pay attention to the smaller details of the story.  He showed us much, mainly in close-up shots that are plentiful, but not overused.  None of the detail, or any of what we’re shown feels forced, it doesn’t feel contrived.  I am speechless on why Tom Ford isn’t getting more credit, why Tom Ford won’t compete with Cameron and Tarantino for the directing Oscar.  I can’t imagine what Ford could possibly follow-up this stellar debut with.  Then again, maybe he won’t.  Which would be the bigger cinematic crime?

Rating:  10/10.