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The Reeler Blog

Clayton Wins NYT Oscar Season Once-Over

"That'll cost you extra, George": Clooney, deputy NYC Film Commissioner John Battista and commissioner Katherine Oliver on the set of Michael Clayton (Photo: Warner Bros.)

By S.T. VanAirsdale

Ostensibly to coincide with Michael Clayton's awards-season love, NY Times Metro desker Jenny 8. Lee took to the City Room blog this morning to poll readers on their favorite New York films. Cue music and look out for the treacle:

Like any self-respecting New Yorker, City Room pulls for its hometown favorites (Go Giants!). Besides, we’re bored with the sepia-themed World War II-era flicks already. So Masterpiece Theater. (Alas, the odds-makers are putting their money on No Country for Old Men, as does David Carr over at The Carpetbagger, our Oscars blog.)

Turns out the last New York movie that was nominated for best picture was Gangs of New York, in 2002 (directed by, who else, Mr. Scorsese). But that was set in the messy Civil War-era New York, way before anyone who actually saw the movie was born.

So City Room, after polling experts, friends, family and the guy in the next cubicle, picked out a list of films (one for each decade) which, like Michael Clayton, seemed to capture the contemporary New York of the eras in which they were made.

The accompanying photo of George Clooney with NYC film commissioner Katherine Oliver and deputy commissioner John Battista (also above) says all you need to know about what passes for local film culture in 2007, but I digress. I liked Michael Clayton quite a bit, and I can get behind most of the ensuing list -- The Naked City, Sweet Smell of Success, Kids, even Do the Right Thing, whose late-'80s impressionism has nothing on the early-'80s expressionism of Style Wars or Prince of the City, but whatever. That's fine. Really, though: Michael Clayton "capture[s] the contemporary New York" of this decade? Hats off to everyone involved, but... Michael Clayton? I'd recommend Lee and the guy in the next cubicle acquaint themselves with Ramin Bahrani's Man Push Cart or his upcoming Chop Shop or Heights or Keane or 25th Hour... or... Michael Clayton? Only a third of it was shot here, and a quarter of that was in the back of that cab that closes the film. Did I miss something?

Posted at February 22, 2008 1:08 PM

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