This film was a real treat, with Strathairn's dead-on performance as legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow a sure bet for at least an Oscar nomination. Perhaps the best decision by writer-director George Clooney was to cast no one in the role of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Instead, Clooney uses actual footage of McCarthy in the HUAC hearings and press conferences. Movies based on actual historical events often sensationalize events, but the extensive use of documentary footage brings home the reality of this movie's story line.
In addition to Strathairn's best performance to date, the entire cast delivers, from Clooney himself as Murrow's producer Fred Friendly, to Frank Langella as CBS chairman William Paley, to Ray Wise as the insecure anchorman Don Hollenbeck. If there is a weak point in the cast, it is Jeff Daniels, who was given little to do in the role of news director Sig Mickelson and did little with it.
As most people today are acquainted with the 1950s through black-and-white images, the decision to film in black-and-white also feels appropriate, and helps the documentary footage to blend in seamlessly with the filmed actors. I strongly recommend this film to those who lived through the McCarthy era and to those, such as myself, who only have witnessed it in the rear view mirror.
The intrigue, conspiracy and drama present in this movie are off the charts. It's truly an intelligent film that captivates from start to finish. I didn't particularly like the final twist but it all makes sense. On a structural note, I find it ironic that the crusading media is portrayed as the constant moral compass and is the hero of the film when, in real life, journalism is now all about the presentation of different levels of liberal falsities. As for the performances, Russell Crowe and the ENTIRE cast are simply superb... everyone is top level talent on the top of their game. I can't remember a recent movie where the supporting players are this good. Jason Bateman, Jeff Daniels and even Helen Mirren have very small roles but all have a huge impact on the film. Affleck and McAdams do a great job as well.
Mama's Boy is not a great film. But I always like Jon Heder for some reason. Plus this has the always wonderful Diane Keaton who is really much better than this movie calls for. Its mildly entertaining and an easy way to spend a rainy afternoon.