FILM FAVORITES: ‘No Country for Old Men’ is the best film of 2007, period

Film Favorites LogoIn a year that saw some of the best films of the 21st century so far, one tense and shocking screen experience stood head and shoulders above the rest.

No Country for Old Men was released in November 2007 during a year chock full of classic stories, such as There Will Be Blood, Zodiac and Juno.

But what made No Country stand out from its contemporaries was unabashedly portraying its story with unflinching direction, in addition to introducing the best villain in a film since Darth Vader.Film poster

Written, directed and produced by the oh-so-steady hands of Ethan and Joel Cohen, No Country follows two central characters: Llewelyn Moss, played by Josh Brolin, and Anton Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem.

While hunting in West Texas, Moss stumbles upon the gruesome remnants of a drug deal gone bad. After finding a briefcase full of cash among the bloodied bodies, Moss takes the sum with hopes of better fortune.

His decision leads to a grim game of cat and mouse with Chigurh, an emotionless and stoic hitman with a bowl haircut from hell, who will do literally anything and everything to retrieve the briefcase.

The Cohen brothers, who brought us the likes of Fargo and The Big Lebowski, do everything right and almost nothing wrong with No Country. Each scene is set up with precision and every inch of every shot is used, with each motion or color serving a purpose and nothing going to waste.

In terms of acting, Brolin and Bardem present immaculate characters. Moss comes across as a quiet man, confident in his ability to drift through life. He chooses his words wisely and only cracks a smile when completely necessary.

Chigurh carries many of the same characteristics as his protagonist counterpart. He too is quiet, yet his chosen words are usually in the form of sincere threats to cut down anyone who opposes him. This is perfectly put to use in a now-infamous scene when Chigurh balances a road-side store owner’s life on a coin flip.

“What’s the most you ever lost in a coin toss?” Chigurh asks the store owner, rustling around in his pockets. The sound of his fingernails scratching against the denim is significant, which brings me to the best thing about the film, in my opinion.

One aspect of No Country that is often overlooked is the sound design, which to this day is unmatched by any other film. Each small, seemingly-insignificant noise has a meaning. The film uses almost no background music or score, which lends a sense of quiet calm to the unsettling scenes put in front of you. Even the small sound of a jean jacket sleeve rubbing against a corduroy couch can be heard, and that’s the way the filmmakers want it — cut out everything that would distract you from what you are watching.

In the end, No Country for Old Men is in a class of its own, period. I don’t usually beg for people to watch a certain film, but regardless of your taste in movies, please, I implore you, watch it.

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