New York City lawyer Michael Clayton (Clooney) is a fixer for a big firm, cleaning up the dirty messes his high-paying clients leave behind, but lately he's been feeling burned out and disillusioned. Things come to a head for Clayton when his guilt-ridden friend, ace lawyer Arthur Edens (Wilkinson), decides to blow the whistle on a corporate client's massive wrongdoing, thereby threatening his career, his sanity, even his life.
Why we love it
One of the thorniest and most celebrated legal thrillers in years, Clayton marks the directorial debut of "Bourne" trilogy screenwriter Gilroy, whose film is distinguished by intelligent dialogue, meticulous pacing, and plenty of riveting tension. A-lister Clooney adopts a quieter, less showy pose as a troubled lawyer torn between his loyalty to firm honcho Pollack and his pal Wilkinson, who gives an astounding performance as an erratic, manic-depressive lawyer at the breaking point. As you'd expect, the no-nonsense Swinton is superb as the offending Client's top lawyer (she won an Oscar for this). Director Gilroy handles all the intrigue and cover-up, then a murder with cold efficiency, but catharsis does arrive in the final scene.