Rewarding filmmaking this year includes Michael Mann's "Public Enemies."
Lean and fast, "Public Enemies" is an epic thriller starring Johnny Depp as gangster John Dillinger, who captivated Americans with his dangerous life for a generation. The shootout robberies, choreographed by the Chicago-born Michael Mann and captured by Dante Spinotti's fluid chiaroscuro cinematography, are dazzling, as are the 1930s Depression-era details, with the criminals' favored fedoras and long coats, and the soundtrack featuring Billie Holiday and Gene Autry.
"Public Enemies" is a major artistic endeavor from Michael, whose films become classics, from "The Insider" with Russell Crowe, to "The Aviator" with Leonardo DiCaprio and Oscar-winning Cate Blanchet. The film showcases compelling work from Johnny, sporting his fedora as though he was weaned into it as a kid in his native Owensboro, Kentucky. Also, fine work from Marion Cotillard, awarded the Best Actress Oscar last year for her vivid and haunting portrayal of French songbird Edith Piaf in "La Vie En Rose." As Dillinger's Chicago coat-check lover, Billie Frechette, Marion delivers an Oscar-worthy supporting performance.
Oscar nods are likely for Best Picture and Director, Johnny Depp, Billy Crudup as FBI special agent Alvin Purvis, Dante Spinotti’s cinematography, the screenplay, art director Nathan Crowley, and costume designer Colleen Atwood.
"A dance of power and death," says producer Kevin Misher about Dillinger and the FBI. In 1934, the Chicago Daily News reported, "No hint of hardness about Dillinger, though he spent his formative years in a penitentiary ... he had none of the sneer of the criminal." Dillinger himself was quoted as saying, "Never work with people who are desperate," and FBI's J. Edgar Hoover claimed, "We are in the modern age, and making history. Take direct, expedient action. As they say in Italy, 'Take off the white gloves.'"