new on DVD: overlooked by Oscar

George Clooney just won an Academy Award for his role in Syriana, but his best work by far last year came behind the camera as cowriter and director of the historical drama Good Night, and Good Luck. (read my review/buy at Amazon). From its pointed outrage to the slippery coolness with which it is sketched out, this is a masterful work at the intersection of art, politics, and pop culture… and it’s only Clooney’s second film. I can’t wait to see what he gets up to next.

Also unfairly overlooked at this year’s Oscars was David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence (read my review/buy at Amazon), a sly and outrageous a satire on the peculiarly schizophrenic American approach to our darker sides, and my best film of 2005. Viggo Mortensen and Mario Bello have never been better than they are here, creating a portrait of the illusions and pretences that underlie a marriage.

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (read my review/buy at Amazon) was also forgotten at the Academy Awards, and this omission at least was no crime. Julianne Moore comes through with her usual dedicated intensity, but the tale, of a Midwest 1950s housewife who supports her family with contest winnings, is far too slight for even her prodigious talent to bolster.

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