Its probably time that Ridley Scott enters the pantheon of the world's truly great directors--if he doesnt enjoy that reputation already.

I saw American Gangster over the weekend. It was more than worth two hours and forty minutes of my time.

Hey, had to do something until Giants/Cowboys at 4 p.m. I must say I had a better time than either of the Manning brothers--even if my daytime exacta play turned out to be not as lucky as coach Norv Turners night. But I digress.

Didnt realize this Englishman had compiled such a worthy body of work. I remembered Gladiator and Black Hawk Down. They were fairly recent. But how could I have forgotten Alien and Thelma and Louise? Or the offbeat gem, Matchstick Men?

But for the story telling, style, tension and attention to detail, it had some elements of what happens when Godfather meets Traffic: Gangster probably is better than the latter and not as good as the former.

But how many were better crafted than Coppolas 1972 epic? Citizen Kane? The American Film Institute thinks so and I can concede that. However, I do believe it was a deserving winner in a photo with Casablanca for the runner-up spot.

Anyway, if you really liked any of the above, youll probably love the best film Ive seen this year. (Havent seen all that many in what has been, for me, a disappointing year for Hollywood).

What can you say that hasnt already been said about Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe? Theyre great actors. And there was a wonderful brief cameo from Clarence Williams III as the notorious role model Bumpy Johnson, and a terrific supporting turn from Ruby Dee as the mother of protagonist Frank Lucas.

Based on a true story, the writers and director make it crystal clear that none of the narcotics trade that turned New York City into a drugs cesspool for nearly two decades would have been possible without the forces of corruption within the N.Y.C. Police Department, the Anti-Drug Task Force and the U.S. Military.

To any of my close friends, this comes with a money-back guarantee. Im afraid the rest of you are on your own.