And now we have "Good Night and Good Luck", a film that would be a masterpiece from anyone, but is all the more precious, all the more rewarding, for knowing where it came from. The man who was first noticed on our movie screens as the third Batman has now emerged as a bona-fide artist, as an actor, director, and, for the first time, screenwriter, and has four Oscar nominations to show for it (sadly, no acting nomination for his beautiful performance here as Fred Friendly, but I'm going to have to check out "Syriana" when it comes out in Australia to see the performance that earned him a Golden Globe and will hopefully win him the Best Supporting Actor Oscar). This is a stunning movie - beautifully filmed, scripted, paced, performed. All actors involved give their all - and what a cast to see giving their all! Patricia Clarkson is, naturally, a standout, as is the often hard-done-by Robert Downey Jr, and Ray Wise, who I remember fondly as Leland Palmer from his "Twin Peaks" days, gives a performance that will threaten to bring tears to even the most hardened viewer's eyes.
But this is not just an amazing work of art. If it was just a beautifully filmed, acted and scripted movie with an intriguing story, brilliantly told, it would still deserve to make every "Best of 2005" list, but this not just a brilliant movie - it is an important movie, and, thank heavens, one that is confident enough in its importance not to feel the need to become an Important Movie. Clooney has a message, but he doesn't bludgeon us with it, or declare too loudly that he needs to be heard. He speaks softly, and earnestly, and eloquently, and is thus heard for the merits of what he says and how he says it. His message is that of his hero, Ed Murrow, a message that was relevant in the 1950s, and is just as relevant today, if not more - a message about the responsibility of the media to communicate truth, to challenge the status quo, to give the public the information they deserve, even if it isn't the information they want. It is a message that lies at the heart of democracy, a philosophy that all western societies currently feign adherence to, although failing to realise that, without free and reliable information being distributed to the people, the people themselves cannot make informed decisions as to how they should be governed. So long as they are lied to, and encouraged to think as little as possible, they can never know what is right, or know how well they are being governed - and this is the message that Clooney and company declare loud and clear. The truth must always be told, and each side of every story must receive a fair and equal hearing, for the sake of the truth, for the sake of liberty. What a message to be declared in 2005, and what a spectacular job Clooney does of declaring it - with humility, intelligence, caution, clarity and heart.
Everyone - I repeat, everyone - should see "Good Night and Good Luck". This is a movie of compassion, intelligence, grace, craftsmanship and significance the likes of which I have not seen in a long time. To be completely honest, I don't think a movie of this level of importance has been made in my lifetime, and I've had a few months since seeing the movie to confirm that I still feel this way. This film has the urgency and poise of a film like Robert Wise's "The Day the Earth Stood Still" or Kramer's "On the Beach" - a film that demands to be listened to, and heard. Everything about this movie works, and everything about it is brilliant. I wish there was a way of conveying that, when I give this film 10 out of 10, I would even like it to be placed above almost any other film to which I would assign that rating. Numbers are not enough to communicate how incredible it is, nor are words.
Mr Clooney, thankyou.