Now that I have slammed Oscar for losing its credibility as a brand over the years, I believe it’s only fair to speak up when Oscar gets it right. The 80th Academy Awards restored a lot of credibility in recognizing the excellence of No Country for Old Men.
No Country for Old Men bagged major Oscar wins: Best Picture, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay for Ethan and Joel Cohen, and Best Supporting Actor for Javier Bardem. I hope the movie’s success will also cause more people to purchase the brilliant book written by Pulitizer Prize winner Cormac McCarthy.
This is a compelling movie, but an ugly one, unlike Atonement, which had that Big Oscar Movie gravitas.
Like the Cohen Brothers’s Fargo, No Country for Old Men contemplates the existence of evil in the world and our uneasy acceptance of it. But unlike police officer Marge Gunderson in Fargo, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell comes to realize that he is up against an evil (in the form of killer Anton Chigurh) that he cannot fathom or stop.
In short, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell comes face to face with his own limitations — and, ultimately, defeat.
This is the kind of movie that I am not sure I would have understood or appreciated when I was in college, but as an adult coming to terms with human limitations and the reality of evil, I feel like No Country for Old Men speaks to me — which I love about a great movie.
But the movie is violent, harsh, and depressing — hardly the kind the Academy likes. Oscar hasn’t shown cajones like this since awarding the dark, violent Silence of the Lambs a Best Picture.
This is how a brand restores credibility and authenticity.