State of Play was released in Canada on April 17, 2009. The cast is actually not too shabby with Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Jason Bateman and Jeff Daniels. Particularly with Crowe and Mirren lurking around, Oscar attention is not unexpected. Unfortunately, neither were given roles that will merit a second glance from the Academy. The story just doesn't have it.
The plot is not really a new one. Crowe and McAdams are journalists for a paper Mirren is running. Affleck is a politician whose mistress is murdered. Conspiracies and cover-ups run amuck in this remake of a dozen other flicks. It has some good moments, and State of Play is an entertaining couple of hours, but the screenplay in this baby just does not come through in any extraordinary way.
In its early days, this movie drew some attention for Oscar potential, mostly based on the cast. Crowe and Mirren are generally fairly safe, but both need material. Neither is the type of actor who can take a mediocre role and turn it into something wonderful (see Meryl Streep). They got mediocre roles in this one, and performed relatively well, but the end product was still mediocre. Oscar is making a list and checking it twice, and no one from this flick is on it.
State of Play is a great rental, but don't expect to hear much of it come February.