Lists are great. They inspire discussion, create arguments, and tend to spiral off into fun new lists. When you do a list about the “BEST” of anything it goes from being fun to becoming a hotbed for arguments. There’s no such thing as a definitive list but I’ve decided to pull from my rather extensive life of film watching and put it to good use.
This is not the “film critic’s top 100” list. There’s no guarantee Citizen Kane or The Bicycle Thief will be in the top echelon or even on the list. This is the 100 movies I would put my name on as my top 100. If I died tomorrow this would represent the 100 films I find most vital, special, or ones that bonded to whatever it is that makes me me. I’m not including documentaries, though that might make for a nice supplemental list.
The first 80 will be in no particular order. The last 20 will be in very particular order. One a day, you have my word.
#7 – No Country For Old Men
This is the top twenty. These are in order.
Why is it here:
There is very little in the way of Coen Bros. fingerprints in No Country For Old Men. Which illustrates how versatile and amazing they are. They took a breezy, brutal novel and adapted it to perfection and retained everything great about it and made it even better for one reason: they operate on a higher level than everyone else. I imagine these guys tear themselves up through the writing and directing process and hold their work under the most fine microscope but it hasn’t showed in the finished product. This movie is not only carried by three performers at the peak of their skills, it also functions on so many levels it’s easy to lose count. It’s incredibly powerful, entertaining, rich, though-provoking, and bleak. It’s pulpy and an awards magnet. It’s iconic but in a lot of ways quaint. It’s such a feral and odd movie that somehow resonates louder and louder as time goes on. And it’s impossible not to watch. I haven’t done the math but this list has plenty of Coen in it and it still feels slighted without a few more of their gems in it. But this is the one for me. The one (so far) that serves as their peak. Scary thing is that they are so prolific and so undaunted by the business it may be their tenth best once they call it a day.
Moments to savor:
The coin toss. The discussion about the “getting place”. The cattle eliminator. The quiet before storm. Garrett Dillahunt playing dumb. Tommy Lee Jones proving a warmth at the center of all the coldness. The reflection in the TV set. When Brolin interrogates the shot Mexican. The hotel attack. The hard break before a leading character dies offscreen. The bathtub kill. Everything else too.
People who don’t like or get the ending aren’t bad people. They’re just dumb.