George Clooney, Ryan Gosling at “Ides of March” premiere – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell George Clooney and Ryan Gosling walked the red carpet in Los Angeles Tuesday night for “The Ides of March,” Clooney’s fourth directorial effort and a serious Oscar contender in this year’s awards race. And while premieres are a dime a dozen in Hollywood, I’m spotlighting this one because I’m really hoping the publicity helps put Clooney’s intelligent, suspenseful drama on everyone’s radar, because the excellent thriller deserves to be seen.

“Ides” stars Gosling as Steven, a brilliant young political analyst working behind-the-scenes for Gov. Mike Morris (Clooney), the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination. But during a key campaign stop in Ohio, a scandal threatens to derail Morris’ career, swallowing Steven up in the process.

Clooney’s precise direction helps construct “Ides” like a delicate house of cards. Each piece added to the puzzle helps fortify the mystery, but we get the sense the whole time watching that one false move can bring the entire story crumbling down.

It’s a thrilling ride, made all the more enjoyable by Clooney’s outstanding cast, which includes Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Wright and Philip Seymour Hoffman. “Ides” calls to mind Clooney’s “Good Night, and Good Luck” (nominated for Best Picture, Director and more) in the way it leans on a stellar ensemble as it takes audiences deep into an industry they think they are familiar with but really don’t understand at all. Here, it happens to be politics, but the character traits explored by Clooney’s crackling thriller are universal, and exhilarating.

“The Ides of March” opens everywhere on Oct. 7. Be sure to check it out. Clooney delivers a fantastically tense package that boasts the kind of acting we tend to take for granted. If there’s justice, we’ll be talking about “Ides” all Oscar season long.

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