No Country for Old Men is the first film Joel and Ethan Coen have directed since 2004’s Tom Hanks vehicle Ladykillers. The brother’s first film was 1984’s Blood Simple and since then they’ve written and directed a series of pop and cult classics such as Raising Arizona, The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and The Man Who Wasn’t There.
No Country is based on Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel of the same name. It tells the story of Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) who finds a satchel of money after a drug deal gone wrong in the desert, and soon finds himself prey to the psychotic, and now iconic, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem). The film revisits the blood-soaked and darker days of Coen films past. They haven’t made a movie about killers that’s resonated as much as this one did since 1996’s Fargo.
No Country for Old Men was rewarded for this return to form for the Coens by being placed on over 350 Top Ten Lists throughout the country, and being #1 on 90 of those lists. Most notably, The Onion A.V. Club, Rolling Stone, and Time Magazine all heralded No Country as the best film of the year and it’s tied with There Will Be Blood for most Academy Award nominations (with eight apeice). Additionally:
– The film scored high praise getting 94% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes as well as a 91 (out of 100) on MetaCritic.
– Nominated for 4 Golden Globes (winning 2)
– Nominee for the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival
– Winner for the Screen Actor’s Guild award for Best Ensemble
– Joel and Ethan picked up both the WGA award for Best Adapted Screenplay and the Director’s Guild award for Best Direction in a Motion Picture
– The Coens are nominated for 4 Oscars this year (for Picture, Screenplay, Direction, and Editing)
– Javier Bardem’s performance has been a virtual sweep of the most talked about ceremonies (Globes, SAG, BAFTA)
– Named Best Film by the National Board of Review
“Many of the scenes in No Country for Old Men are so flawlessly constructed that you want them to simply continue, and yet they create an emotional suction drawing you to the next scene.” -Roger Ebert
“As stomach-churning a suspense exercise as the cinema has seen since the salad days of Hitchcock.” -Glenn Kenny, Premeire
“‘No Country for Old Men’ is purgatory for the squeamish and the easily spooked. For formalists — those moviegoers sent into raptures by tight editing, nimble camera work and faultless sound design — it’s pure heaven.” -A.O. Scott, The New York Times
“Caught in the movie’s grip, you are simply hypnotized by the damned thing.” -Richard Schnickel, Time
Why it might win?
No Country has a lot of cut-men in its corner. Not only did the film take home several critic’s awards for Best Picture, but it took home top honors at the WGA, DGA, and SAG awards. The film is rich and vivid with detail and it got people talking as much as any other film did this year. Movies don’t come along every year like No Country for Old Men, it’s an old-fashioned thriller and a hell of a good time. It boasts incredible performances, top-notch writing, world-class direction, and a slew of other technical feats that no other film accomplished this year.
Why it might not win?
No Country isn’t pulling away from the competition. It tied with There Will Be Blood and lost both the Golden Globe and BAFTA (for Best Picture) to Atonement. And while its ending was one of the most talked about climaxes of the year, it didn’t win everybody over. Oscars for Best Picture tend to go to the films that don’t raise a lot of questions at their vague endings. Although No Country may go down in history as a classic, it could very easily be one of those films that the Academy fucked up and gave the award to a lesser movie. See: Goodfellas, 1991 (lost to Dances with Wolves); Pulp Fiction, 1995 (lost to Forrest Gump); L.A. Confidential, 1998 (lost to Titanic); Traffic, 2001 (lost to Gladiator).
No Country could easily take home the top prize. It was, in this writer’s humble opinion, the most enjoyable movie of the year. Last year, the Academy made up for the Crash debacle and awarded the top prize to The Departed. Hopefully, they reward an equally deserving and entertaining movie this year.