To those of you who haven't seen L.A. Confidential in years, please, go back and see it again. It's way better than you remember it, and well worth the revisit. The acting is pitch perfect, the writing is flawless, and the direction is superb. Curtis Hanson may have a reputation as something of a journeyman, but his work here is smart and stylish. It's a great movie, and it deserves to go on to the next round.
Well, it would, if it wasn't going up against Fargo. Curse you, Filmspotting Madness!
I love Fargo. I love showing it in film classes and watching high school students try to figure out what to do with it. I love the tv series it spawned. I love the quotability and the frozen landscapes and Frances McDormand.
But when I'm honest, I think the Coens' best work really came in the 2000s (O Brother, No Country, A Serious Man) and into the 2010s. Would those later films have come without the critical and commercial success of Fargo? Hard to say.
And LA Confidential: the intricately woven plot. The breakout and bare-knuckle performances of Crowe and Pearce. The cinematography of the shootout at the Victory Motel. The way it explored race and fame and power and police brutality in Los Angeles. And Kim Basinger's faux-Veronica Lake prostitute, a role that she deservedly won an Academy Award for. It blew my mind as a kid, and it blew my mind on a rewatch just a few years ago (again with a high school film class). It's easy to underrate, and it gets my vote in this, the toughest matchup of round two.
This one actually hurt. I love both of these movies. Gotta go with the one that forever provides me with my favorite quotes. "I guess that's your friend in the wood chipper there..."
My vote is for the best Coen Brothers film.
And there goes LA Confidential into the wood chipper.
Is this the first unanimous Filmspotting Madness poll in history? See ya in the next round Fargo!
Go coastal elites!
I like LA Confidential; but if I didn't have it, I'd still have Chinatown, The Big Sleep, Double Indemnity.
Fargo takes the genre, to a whole other place.
See folks? This is the kind of boring, safe tournament you get when you kill off all the halfway exciting outsider cinema picks in the first round (Dead Man, My Own Private Idaho, etc). Obviously these are both fantastic films in their own right. But I guess I expect more from a film buff event. It feels like we're all in tuxedos dancing the waltz on the upper decks of the Titanic when we could be drunkenly stomping on the tables on the lower decks with the unwashed stowaways.
This hurts. This just plain hurts. Two of my favorite movies, not just of the 90's, but of all time. I'm going with LA Confidential, as one of the few movies I've seen that has ever genuinely surprised me, both with its plot twists, and with the quality of the film that I just plain wasn't expecting when I saw it. Fargo may be The Coen's best, but at least I still have Lebowski, No Country, and O, Brother. At least, for now.......
Both of these movies have rich characters, smart scripts, saturated senses of place and fascinating detective work. Fargo is in contention for the Coens' best work, but it's opponents are half of the their filmography, and it was bested by its namesake (and... "worldsake"?) television series.
I've already voted against L.A. Confidential, so, as Josh says, it would be easy to do it again.
But not this time. It really is the better film.