“A Most Violent Year”–(2014)
A fascinating, beautifully directed (especially the art direction, which is quietly hyper-competent), and superbly acted film about a good man trying not to become a Goodfella. Oscar Isaac (reminding me of a young Armand Assante) plays Abel Morales, an immigrant in N.Y. trying to get his piece of the American Dream, navigating a corrupt and violent world while attempting, with increasing desperation, to maintain his morality. When his heating oil delivery service is attacked, and the Feds investigating his business, he leverages everything he owns to option a piece of property from a group of Hassidic Jews who make a very clear deal to him: if he can’t come up with the rest of the money, his deposit is forfeit.
What happens consequently is quietly hair-raising, and writer-director J.C. Chandor (the superb “All Is Lost”) delivers the goods in scene after scene. There doesn’t seem a single off moment. Isaac has the fiber of character Michael Coreleone wanted to believe he possessed, and the struggle of this genuinely good man surrounded by casual evil is mesmerising. I just love Oscar season! An “A”.