Last night I watched a high-def feed of Sam Raimi‘s A Simple Plan (’98), which still seems like his finest film ever — the best written (by Scott Smith), the best acted (particularly by Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton and Bridget Fonda), the most thrillingly plotted, and certainly the most morally complex. I hadn’t seen it for 15 or 16 years. It holds up and then some. A filthy lucre film on the level of Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Fargo, Macbeth (particularly when you think of Fonda’s Lady Macbeth-like wife), Of Mice and Men, etc. But it got me to wondering why Raimi never again came close to making anything like it. For The Love Of The Game followed, and then The Gift. And then, for the last 12 years, web-casting and fantasy — Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, Drag Me to Hell and Oz the Great and Powerful. Raimi mades his bones in cult horror (Evil Dead flicks, Darkman, Army of Darkness), and then seemed to step into the world-class, award-calibre league with A Simple Plan, and then…you tell me.