Thursday, January 03, 2008

Ranking the "No Country For Old Men" Performances

When it comes to award buzz for the film No Country for Old Men, most of the buzz lands on directors/writers/editors Joel and Ethan Coen. Close behind the Coen Brothers is Javier Bardem. Yet when it comes to this Screen Actors Guild nominated cast, Bardem's character, while well played, is far more "flashy" than many of the other characters. So in reflection...

My Ranking of the Cast of No Country for Old Men

1. Kelly Macdonald - her role of Carla Jean Moss, is written in a way that makes her kind of a "hard to believe" character. Perhaps in the book, her relationship with husband Llewelyn Moss makes more sense, but the way Macdonald plays Carla Jean, you role with it, because it just seems natural. Even though she born on the other side of the pond, she does a great job playing the naive and trusting Texas woman.

2. Tommy Lee Jones - As a supporting character, he really is the "lead" as a narrator and focus of the film. Focusing the film on Bardem & Brolin's character only makes the conclusion more frustrating. But if seen from the perspective of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, the film is more enjoyable. I can't imagine this role performed any better than what we see in Jones' acting. His pacing, and line delivery is pitch perfect.

3. Javiar Bardem - It's not just delivery of lines that makes him impressive, it's his on screen presence when he's saying nothing at all that makes Anton Chigurh, the psycho that he is really give you the creeps. Bardem's gas station scene is an instant classic scene that reminded me of Scream's opening scene with Drew Berrymore.

4. Josh Brolin - Brolin has certainly appeared on my radar after this performance. I'll be interested to see where his career goes from his many performances of 2007. Brolin's Llewelyn Moss is certainly a brave, but stupid man. Brolin's performance though doesn't make you see Llewelyn as a complete idiot, instead he portrays a unique internal drive.

5. Garret Dillahunt - As Deputy Wendell, he does a good job of being someone for Sheriff Ed Tom Bell to talk too. Nothing too impressive, but it's not a flashy part.

6. Tess Harper - Nothing too flashy in Loretta Bell's role...but since she was included alongside the others as part of the SAG nominated cast, I thought I'd include her too.

7. Woody Harrelson - What Dillahunt's character lacked in flashiness, Harrelson's character (Carson Wells) had. Where Macdonald, Brolin & Bardem take ridiculous characters and make them believable, Harrelson simply doesn't quiet find his place in the texture of the film.

Is No Country For Old Men on your list of top 100 movies? Think it could be one of the next great classic movies of our time? If you haven't seen it yet maybe you should go rent some dvd movies to catch up.


Art said...

Everything I've read and heard about this movie makes me want to see it. I hope it lives up to the hype!

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the movie yet (I've been waiting for it for more than a year, but just don't have time to breathe right now), but I have read the book.

The book makes it clear from the beginning the Ed Tom Bell is the main character. The entire story is punctuated by his narration, and of course, he is also present in the story itself, though always a bit behind the action. It's an interesting narrative device and I wondered while reading it if author Cormac McCarthy saw himself in Bell ... the book might be aptly titled No Country for Cormac.

That may be why the movie has a bit of distance to it (such as what I think you were describing regarding Kelly MacDonald and Tommy Lee Jones).

From the book, I didn't get the impression that Llewellyn was stupid. In fact, I was rooting for him up to the end. I don't know how his character arc ends in the film, but in the book he ends up where he does because he's much saner than his pursuer. He thinks like a sane man, not like a natural born killer. Don't forget that Chigurh is just a hired gun. He's not interested in anything but doing the job he was paid to do. He actually says as much in the book.

Gosh, I can't wait to see this movie.