It is far too early in the year to tell, but I would not be surprised if, for the second year in a row, two Soderbergh films make my best-of list. I don't buy the retirement from film talk for a second, but if this at least closes a chapter on the director's work, it does so with aplomb. The most conventional of Soderbergh's late work is also a dazzling display of what makes him unique, his off-kilter focus on the intricacies of relationships and process that breaks even a turbulent romance down into analytical deconstruction, complete with ever-inventive framings and a great rapport with his actors. Indeed, Douglas and Damon get out early with the male performances to beat this year, Douglas so un-self-conscious in embracing Liberace's pathological vanity and Damon gradually turning infatuation and gee-whiz wonder at his lover's opulence into a coke-addled, paranoid form of Stockholm Syndrome. Despite my love for Soderbergh (and for Douglas, who continues to be one of our finest and most daring leading men), I was on the fence for a TV biopic, but even that is transformed into something original and exciting by this alchemical filmmaker.
Check out my full review at Movie Mezzanine.