A Weekly Educated Movie Recommendation by Shaun Smith

After last week’s insanity of a pick, I thought it was best to go back to the dramatic side of things.

Michael Clayton, released in 2007, was critically praised upon its release yet I feel the film has no gotten the amount of praise that it deserves.

Many people forget that the film was nominated for Best Picture in 2008, most likely since the winner that year was No Country for Old Men.

The film stars George Clooney as the title character, a self-described “fixer” for a prestigious law firm, is called in to remedy a situation involving a broken-down lawyer named Arthur Edens, played by Tom Wilkinson, and an agricultural chemical company.

Arthur’s law firm is in the process of merging with the chemical company while in the middle of a large class action lawsuit.

The chemical company is represented by a cruel and determined lawyer played by Tilda Swinton (who won an Oscar for her role in the film).

Clayton is hired to watch over Arthur after a nervous breakdown leads to a possible leaked tape of the incident and would destroy the merger between the two companies.

Even though that seems like a lot to digest, the plot is a simple crime mystery with plot twists and seedy characters all around.

Michael Clayton was the first film directed and written by popular screenwriter Tony Gilroy, most known for screenwriting films such as The Bourne series, Armageddon and The Devil’s Advocate.

The film oddly enough starts towards the end of the story with a brief shot of Clayton running through the woods away from his car. The screen then fades to white as a title card appears reading “Four Days Earlier.”

Another interesting fact is that Michael Clayton was one of the final films of legendary Hollywood actor/director/producer Sydney Pollack before his death in 2008 (Pollack was nominated for an Oscar as producer on the film as well). Pollack appears briefly in the film as a higher-up in the law firm Clayton is associated with.

Even though the film starts out slow, by the time the cover-ups and deceits begin to unfold Michael Clayton leaves you on the edge of your seat until the climatic final scene.

In fact the final scene is some of the best acting work I’ve seen in a long time between Clooney and Swinton. Even if you have no interest in watching the film I urge you to check out the final scene.

Pretty much the main cast was all nominated for acting Oscars for the film, Clooney nominated for Lead Actor, Wilkinson nominated for Supporting Actor, and as mentioned earlier Swinton winning for Supporting Actress.

Just a quick note, Friday Flicks will be off the next two weeks but will be back August 3rd with another great film recommendation.

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