Every once in a blue moon, David Poland gets it right about an end-of-the-year awards contender. American Gangster (which I went for big-time a week ot so ago) is one of those rare lucky recipients. Not quite “the undeniable classic [he] felt throughout was trying to emerge,” Poland says, and yet “a classic tale of the American dream on drugs…one of the very best gangster epics of all time…the work of a truly skilled filmmaker, some excellent actors, a great story, and a ’70s spirit of filmmaking that is a pleasure to see on the big screen in 2007.”

Ignore the observation about how Russell Crowe‘s detective character going through a custody suit interferes with the flow and the rich ingredients. The movie is constantly showing parallels between Crowe’s Richie Roberts and Denzel Washington‘s Frank Lucas — their private backwater moments as well as their professional dedications and drives. I felt that coming to understand that they’re not all that different and even kind of similar was the main point of Steve Zallian‘s script, which means that comparing this and that aspect of their family situations naturally follows.

Notice also how Poland subconsciously shows his animus for In The Valley of Elah by ignoring Josh Brolin‘s performance in that film while calling him “the comeback player of the year” who also scored big in No Country For Old Men? Three right-on performances in a trio of first-rate films released in the space of four months — talk about good career karma. (Let’s not muck things up by mentioning Brolin’s apperance in Planet Terror.)