… or that’s what should happen. I liked No Country for Old Men, which comes to DVD this Tuesday. At the time I saw it in theaters, I thought it was a strong contender for Best Picture. Despite a lackluster ending, the movie is dark, meaningful and well conceived, with all elements working together in synergy. Josh Brolin turns in the best performance of his career. Tommy Lee Jones is good even though his character serves no real purpose. Javier Bardem is amazing and delivers to the screen one of the most memorable and frightening villains of all time. No Country is one of the best Coen Brothers’ movies, if not the best.
These were the kinds of statements that carried the movie through the award season. It struck gold early on, and critics and voters for the various award shows showed reluctance to give other films a chance. With exception to the Golden Globes, a good chunk of “Best” awards went to No Country, despite strong competition from some other great films.
I have to say something I never thought I’d say: I agree with the Golden Globe voters.
No Country for Old Men is not the best movie of 2007, and as such it does not deserve the Oscar for Best Picture. It is, when it comes down to it, a great thriller with deeper meaning, but that’s what it is: a thriller. On top of that – let’s face it, folks – the ending sucks. No matter how you want to spin it, the ending is a dud, and do movies with bad endings deserve to win Best Picture?
(the answer is “No”)
Who should have won Best Picture? I don’t know. I thought both Atonement and There Will Be Blood were stronger candidates. Atonement was a great film on many levels; what it lacked, perhaps, were the super strong performances that No Country boasted. There Will Be Blood rode the coattails of Daniel Day Lewis’ incredible performance, but the movie is powerful, dark and simply incredible to watch. Both of these movies feature far superior endings. You can see my top ten movies of 2007 list for more details.
I’d even make arguments that Juno and Michael Clayton are more satisfying films, though it’d be pushing it to say they are better movies. Still, Juno was entertaining and had a nice, sweet ending; Michael Clayton was a bit slow but had an incredible last scene.
I was not surprised that No Country for Old Men won for Best Picture, but having watched many of the Oscar-nominated films in the last two weeks (generally for the second time), I realize that the movie just isn’t as good. Re-watch No Country, Atonement and There Will Be Blood and let me know if you still think No Country is a better film; it seems like everyone liked the movie so much because the marketing told us that everyone else liked it so much.
By the way, I have the No Country for Old Men DVD, and it’s not all too exciting. Of course, the movie itself is good, but the special features are few to be had. The movie comes to DVD March 11, 2008.