Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #115
Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem
This is my first review of a Coen Brothers movie for this blog, and I have to admit, I'm pretty excited. They are without a doubt my favorite directors. They've dabbled in damn near every genre of film imaginable and have put their unique stamp on them all. My views on what films constitute the Brothers' masterpieces are pretty much in line with the general consensus; The Big Lebowski, Fargo and No Country for Old Men are the only Coen pictures represented on the Top 250, and those are my three favorites. Where I deviate from the list is that I wouldn't hesitate to include Barton Fink, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Man Who Wasn't There and A Serious Man as well. Nonetheless, I'm happy to see their three best films on the list, and I'm excited to try to communicate my love for the Coens in writing for the first time in my life thus far.
No Country for Old Men can't be pigeonholed as a picture belonging to any particular genre. There's influences coming from everywhere. As with every Coen Brothers film, it's a black comedy, albeit their blackest by far. It's also a Western. It takes place in 1980 instead of the rough period between the Civil War and the First World War, but the sprawling, desert landscapes at the U.S.-Mexico border that the film uses as its backdrop are unmistakably Western. It's a drama, too. The Coens get some of their best ever performances from Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, and especially the brilliant Javier Bardem, who turns in one of my ten favorite performances of all time as murderous psychopath Anton Chigurh. It's also a revenge flick, an action movie, and an episodic adventure film. Unlike a film by, say, Quentin Tarantino, No Country doesn't wear its genres on its sleeve. It fuses them into one seamless motion picture that feels epic in scope without being weighed down pretension.
Of course, No Country for Old Men is perhaps most famous for winning the Coens their first Best Picture and Best Director Oscar. Sometimes these Johnny-come-lately awards go to great directors releasing films that aren't that year's best as an apology for past snubs – Martin Scorsese taking home the statuettes for The Departed comes to mind – but for the Coens, it was fair. In my opinion, No Country is only their third best movie, but it's still an absolute goddamn masterpiece that probably falls somewhere in my top fifteen films of all time. If you're not chilled to the bone when Anton Chigurh goes into a gas station and makes the clerk call a coin toss "for everything," then you probably don't have a pulse. If you've somehow evaded seeing this film over the last three years, for God's sake, please see it.
The Good: Javier Bardem's as Anton Chigurh gives the most chilling screen performance since Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
The Bad: If I was a moron, I would say the ending. I'm not, so I'll say...nothing. Nothing is bad about this movie.
The Skinny: Well, obviously I'm going to think #115 is too low when it's in my personal top fifteen, but I'm very happy to see it on the list. I would be outraged if it weren't.