Ridley Scott‘s American Gangster (Universal, 11.2) screened last night at West L.A.’s Landmark, and it’s “really, really good,” a friend says. Denzel Washington is superb in his second big bad-guy role as Frank Lucas, a real-life Harlem drug-dealer who reigned in the early to mid ’70s. The Best Actor Oscar heat is Washington’s to run with, he says, although Russell Crowe‘s performance as Washington’s nemesis, Det. Richie Roberts, is way up there also.

It’s “just a really good, really well-made” crime movie that isn’t a high-style Ridley Scott showcase as much as a top-grade 1970s Sidney Lumet film — accents, atmosphere, facts, character, flamboyance. The trailer shows it. Forget Toronto. Screenings will probably start in mid September or thereabouts, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they show it again between now and Labor Day