Roman J. Israel, Esq. ★★★★½

It's such a shame that Roman J. Israel Esq. got ignored the way it did last year (outside of a few award nominations for Denzel Washington it didn't make much noise and came in with pretty low reviews). In a way, that's almost appropriate considering the subject matter of the movie, but still, this is a movie that would have easily made my top ten last year, and that tells an important story about race and the broken nature of the judicial system.

The film stars Denzel as the titular character, an idealistic lawyer who always worked in the shadows of judicial procedure and avoided the more public aspect of the job. But when his partner (a man who gladly took on the public face of their firm) passes away, Roman is forced to go out into a world he was never prepared for and is almost immediately corrupted by it.

The film is about Roman facing a crisis of conscience and about whether one man can make a difference in a system that's spent literal centuries piling on against the under-privileged. The last act of the movie is admittedly a little sloppy, and it probably suffers from taking the tone of a biopic even though I don't think it's based on a true story (and also the title of the movie is weird). But Denzel Washington elevates it, as does Colin Ferrell, and Dan Gilroy, who has an impressive batting average among the movies he works on. And the whole thing is thoroughly entertaining and relevant.

Now that the hoopla of last year's award season has died down, I highly recommend giving this one a watch.