Total Recall: Tommy Lee Jones' Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the Hope Springs star.

Tommy Lee Jones

Since making his big-screen debut in Love Story more than 40 years ago, Tommy Lee Jones has carved out one of the most eclectic, idiosyncratic career paths in Hollywood, going from soap opera star to cinematic leading man -- and appearing in an impressive array of critical and commercial successes along the way. He helped kick off the summer of 2012 with Men in Black 3, and now, with this week's decidedly more mature Hope Springs, he's helping usher it out; in appreciation of his efforts, we decided to dedicate this week's list to some of the many critical highlights from Jones' distinguished filmography. Get ready to squint into the distance and give us your best world-weary sigh, because it's time to Total Recall, Tommy Lee Jones style!


79%

10. Captain America: The First Avenger

Making one of Marvel's oldest (and squarest) heroes relevant for post-Dark Knight audiences seemed just about impossible on paper, but with 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, director Joe Johnston pulled it off by doing two things: One, embracing the character's World War II roots with an origin pic joyously reminiscent of old-fashioned matinee adventures; and two, casting the heck out of the movie with an eyebrow-raising lineup of talent that included Dominic Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Hugo Weaving as Cap's arch-nemesis the Red Skull, and Tommy Lee Jones as Cap's hard-as-nails commanding officer, Colonel Chester Phillips. Sighed Mark Pfeiffer of Reel Times, "In the era of the tortured superhero in movies, it's refreshing to come across one with enthusiasm and a pure spirit."

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80%

9. The Client

John Grisham's bestselling books have had their ups and downs on the big screen -- and in the years following his epic mishandling of the Batman franchise, it may seem hard to believe that Joel Schumacher directed one of the best Grisham adaptations we've seen thus far. Believe it: Not only did 1994's The Client rack up a robust $117 million at the box office, it earned the admiration of the vast majority of critics -- and Susan Sarandon, who starred opposite Jones as a pair of lawyers duking it out over the case of a boy (Brad Renfro) whose life is in danger after he witnesses a mob-related suicide. "This isn't a masterpiece of suspense," cautioned James Berardinelli of ReelViews, "but it has its moments and is capable of providing some light summer entertainment."

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81%

8. A Prairie Home Companion

How do you turn one of America's most famous (and long-running) radio shows into a movie? Well, in the case of A Prairie Home Companion, the answer turned out to be hiring Robert Altman to direct a suitably character-stuffed script by the show's creator and host, Garrison Keillor. A long list of stars showed up for what turned out to be Altman's final film, including Meryl Streep, Woody Harrelson, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Kline, John C. Reilly, and -- as the heartless heavy who shows up to cancel the show-within-a-film -- Tommy Lee Jones. "It sparkles with a magic all its own as an engagingly performed piece of Midwestern whimsy and stoicism," applauded the New York Observer's Andrew Sarris. "Mr. Altman's flair for ensemble spectacle and seamless improvisation in the midst of utter chaos is as apparent as ever."

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83%

7. Rolling Thunder

Before Sylvester Stallone wrapped a bandana around Vietnam vets' anguish in First Blood, there was Rolling Thunder, the Peckinpah-worthy revenge saga of a freed POW (William Devane) who receives a hero's welcome after returning to his Texas hometown -- but only truly comes alive after a band of sadistic thugs comes looking for the stash of silver dollars he was awarded for his service. With his war buddy (played by a young, convincingly haunted-looking Jones) by his side and a sharpened hook for a right hand, he brings Thunder to a suitably bloody conclusion -- and while its grindhouse overtones rubbed a number of critics the wrong way, for most scribes, it offered an intoxicating blend of palpable thrills and rock-solid acting. "Devane and Jones are outstanding," marveled Film4. "Their characters are as numb as scar tissue, emasculated by peace and alienated by an ashamed and horrified society. The folly of the Vietnam War permeates every frame."


84%

6. JFK

Oliver Stone outdid himself when it came time to cast JFK, populating his conspiracy-fueled retelling of the chaos surrounding the aftermath of John F. Kennedy's assassination with a bevy of famous faces (including Kevin Bacon, John Candy, Sissy Spacek, Jack Lemmon, Donald Sutherland, Ed Asner, and of course Kevin Costner). And for the villain of the story, mysterious New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw, Stone settled on an actor's actor, picking Jones (who earned an Academy Award for his work) to lend his epic an air of shadowy menace. Though some criticized JFK for playing fast and loose with historical data, most critics felt the ends justified the means; as John Hartl wrote for Film.com, "For all its outlandish and preachy moments, Stone's movie is anything but boring."

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Comments

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

1) Where the f&ck is Jones' 2005 masterwork MAN OF THE HOUSE? The scene where he buys tampons should have gotten an Academy Award nomination.

2) Despite seeing A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION in theaters (and enjoying it immensely), I completely forgot about his role there, but then again it was another Altman ensemble.

3) Many of you probably thought THE FUGITIVE would top this list, eh? Well, you thought wrong. COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER is a great movie, but it admittedly--and ultimately--belongs to Spacek.

4) I'm disappointed it didn't make it the Critic's List only the RT users, but his performance in IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH was absolutely amazing..h.is best work next to NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN I think. ELAH is underrated, however and should be seen by more.

5) His worst performance? I vote for Two-Face in BATMAN FOREVER.

6) Personally, I would love to see one more movie with Jones' Samuel Gerard. I know I've seen US MARSHALS, but I don't remember anything really memorable about it. Maybe I should see it again?

Aug 8 - 04:38 PM

Geeskater

Jamie Rogers

perhaps you havent seen this: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/man_of_the_house/

Aug 8 - 05:33 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

Uh...yes I know how RT rated it as well as its terrible reputation. Did you actually think I was being serious about MAN OF THE HOUSE? Wow.

Aug 8 - 06:02 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

No Country For Old Men is probably the most over-hyped, over-praised piece of shit I ever watched. Ok, piece of shit is pretty harsh, it did have it's merits.
Javier Bardem was insane as the psycho hitman..and .... that's about it. The rest of it was nonsense, smirkable and led to an ending that was straight up 'Who cares'.

Aug 8 - 05:58 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

I agree it was overhyped, the ending was a letdown and it won too many Academy Awards (still hurts that Paul Thomas Anderson got shafted), but Bardem, Jones, Harrelson, and Brolin were all so damn good I was hooked all the way. And I love the Coen's as much as the next person, but I felt the Academy was just way too masturbatory with NCFOM.

Aug 8 - 06:08 PM

Connor Settlemire

Connor Settlemire

The ending was the exact same as the book. It was one of the best adaptations ever made. Learn to deal with complex character work and endings that don't tie everything in a pretty bow. And I don't remember it being hyped at all. It just came out...and then sweeped the Academy Awards for its many merits. I sound like a whiny fanboy, but it is an incredible film even if you don't think so.

Aug 8 - 06:30 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

It was pretty hyped, at least from a critical standpoint - the critics jizzed all over themselves and anyone else who was unlucky enough to be sitting anywhere nearby. I can deal with complex character work fine, it's the part where none of it seems to have a point that I become disenchanted with the whole thing.

Aug 8 - 10:14 PM

Brian Turnbull

Brian Turnbull

@ Val - If you couldn't find a "point" in No Country, then you are honestly too stupid to have an opinion on the matter.

Aug 9 - 07:56 AM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

You're an idiot for thinking there was one...

Aug 9 - 11:36 AM

Seth McWhorter

Seth McWhorter

ah, such a stimulating conversation, you two!

Aug 9 - 06:47 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I love "NCFOM". It woke me up.

Aug 8 - 06:24 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

I'm with you, the performances were strong, but you really shouldn't be a nominee much less a winner for best picture when story and plot are almost completely ignored. Tons of movie's have great acting, but what makes it a great picture is when those performances make it a compelling story. I left No Country For Old Men thinking I'm glad I got to see those performances especially from Bardem and Brolin, but what was really the point beyond that? With that ending I might as well have just watched them do practice improv for 2 hrs.

Aug 8 - 07:16 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Attention needs to be paid to the last two major Tommy Lee Jones scenes in NCFOM to fully appreciate what the point of the film really was about, which you'll find is disillusionment in romantic notions of white hat/black hat good and evil. The film is a subversion of the hero myth, and very successful at doing that. The disappointment you're talking about is because the hero myth you wanted to see was shown to be a dream. "There Will Be Blood" was also brilliant, as was "Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" which wasn't even nominated. Some years, there's an embarrassment of riches.

Aug 8 - 07:48 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

I got that, but I'd also argue that it's a giant statement for why the hero myth is so important to movie's because it helps you avoid endings like that. Also if that's the case which I don't disagree with you that it is, what was the point of the car crash at the end? That's the part I really didn't get. If he dies, I get that it would have been a punch pulled like showing that fate punishes bad people, but with him getting up and walking away it was like WTF?

Aug 8 - 08:13 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The Coens are considered "contingency" filmmakers, making their plots reflect a lot of odd, implausible happenstances, usually laying waste to mice and men alike, and usually rendering much of the characters actions meaningless. This recurs in a number of their films. The point is that there is no "fate". No one is tending the fire, the light at the end of the tunnel. "A Serious Man" is actually very similar. So is "Chinatown", "Deer Hunter", "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" and many other films that don't end the way the characters want it to.

Aug 8 - 08:25 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

Now I'm tempted to check out NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN again. I only saw it once, so something tells me repeat viewings will yield more rewards, as most great films do; I'm due for a re-watch anyway.

Aug 8 - 08:51 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

A movie, in my opinion, does not need a predictable end - however it does need a discernible end. Cohen films seem like they are missing the last 10 minutes of movie.

Aug 8 - 10:21 PM

King  S.

King Simba

I liked NCFOM, but it did have its flaws. For one thing, while they may have been used to add depth to the story, from a plotwise point of view, Jones and his assistant had absolutely nothing to do. You could have completely removed them without any impact on the plot. Also, while the cat and mouse game between Brolin and Bardem was incredibely tense (better than what you see in most thrillers) the resolution was really dissapointing (All that buildup for something that happens offscreen?).

Finally, I really feel like the Coens give ambitious endings just for the sake of being ambitious. I'm not saying NCFOM should have had a happy ending where everyone gets what they want and the "bad guy" goes to jail or dies, but at the very least it should have been satisfactory. Planet of the Apes and Godfather didn't exactly have happy endings and yet they were iconic endings. With Coens, their films just....end without warning. One should be able to watch a third act without being worried that any minute the credits will roll without warning.

Aug 8 - 11:24 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Yeah J, but Chinatown and to a lesser extent The Deer Hunter's endings came across as strong and in Chinatown's case, was one of the best most classic parts of the movie. The best I can say about NCFOM's ending was it was there and different. It's the argument I always give when people talk about originality, just because something is original doesn't necessarily mean it's good. Just because the ending to NCFOM is different from what we're used to doesn't mean it's different in a good way. For me it was like the "Who is Cartman's Dad" episode on South Park where they just showed a Terrence and Phillip cartoon. I had the same problem with True Grit. Loved it right up until the end when they tacked on that useless 10 extra minutes for no apparent reason. **Spoiler** Did we have to know that Rooster died or that she never saw him again? Wouldn't it have been better just to leave it up to people's imaginations? It's like they were saying "For those of your who imagined a bright ending, just let us piss all over that for you for no other reason than we can."

Aug 9 - 12:44 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Over hyped? Too many awards? It was by far the best movie that year. Zodiac was a close second but NCFOM was a GREAT film and deserved everything it got. But whats up with Bardem? He hasn't done shit since NCFOM, well actually all he's done is shit. Now he's relegated to Bond villain status. The Oscar curse continues!!

Aug 9 - 08:55 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

@Bro - Again, all I can tell you is that it's all there spelled out in those last two TLJ scenes. Whether or not you think it "worked" or not, you're just wrong to think that the Coens simply ended the film arbitrarily "because they could", or to deliberately piss the audience off. No offense, but sometimes it seems as if many people just turned their ears off to all that talk-talk, waiting for some kind of showdown maybe, and missed out on something very powerful that was being said.

Aug 9 - 12:16 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Alright, you've convinced me. I need to watch it again. Well played Sir.

Aug 9 - 03:23 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

As for the "Because they could" comment that was directed at True Grit, which I still standby. The movie would have been a much better movie if they'd ended before her talk with Cole Younger and Frank James. That scene served no purpose but to end the movie on a depressing note. Otherwise an excellent movie in most ways superior to the original.

Aug 9 - 03:28 PM

Dave J

Dave J

@Bigbrother Actually, some people who've read the book say that the ending of "No Country..." was self explanatory whereas according to some the Javier character surviving the car crash scene was supposed to be a metaphor that he can't simply cannot be killed and that he represents the devil, because in the book he did succeed in retrieving the money but in this film he just simply walks away without accomplishing anything. The ending was very similar to John Sayles 1999 film "Limbo".

Aug 9 - 03:31 PM

Dave J

Dave J

What I meant to say is that "The ending was very similar to John Sayles 1999 film "Limbo where viewers can make up their own conclusions"

Aug 9 - 03:33 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

@ Infernal Dude Yes, my three favorites that year were ZODIAC, THERE WILL BE BLOOD and INTO THE WILD. I'm still floored the first and third were completely ignored by the Academy. If the Coen's won for picture and PTA won for his screenplay or vice versa, I would have been satisfied. That's just me though, whatever.

Aug 9 - 06:51 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

@ Kulik. My comment was in response to Val's comment. Though, it seems like we're an the same page on 2007s best movies cause I agree with your top three. Though Superbad and Hot Fuzz stick out for me too. That was interesting year because it was my last year of college and I lived next to a theater that showed independent/second run movies. I got to know the staff pretty well (fellow students, too) and I watched pretty much every major movie that came out that year for free. Plus they had beer which helped... Now that I think about it I probably spent more on beer and food than I would have at a regular cinema. Either way, NCFOM, Zodiac, SUPERBAD, and a few others were watched a lot that year, for me.

Aug 10 - 02:42 AM

Gregory Washington

Gregory Washington

I feel asleep om it...

Aug 11 - 08:35 PM

Caddy Cadogan

Caddy Cadogan

NCFOM is one of the most highly regarded books of the 21st century by the quintessential 21st century author. Your problems with the near-perfect film adaption only indicate a lack of intelligence on your part. If you don't "get" it, then you're in a depressing minority and should probably keep your opinions to yourself lest you get ridiculed.

Aug 10 - 02:07 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

Ridiculed by a big fag like you, who thinks he's smart because he liked a movie. Thought ever occur to you that people 'got it' and still didn't care for it due to their tastes? Nah that wouldn't, cuz you're too big of a cocky asshole to understand. Go fuck your mother, she's the only one who actually likes you.

Aug 10 - 11:54 PM

Devin Stevens

Devin Stevens

Oh wow. Another nobody on the internet who thinks he knows more than the educated professionals. What a shocker.

Aug 10 - 08:50 PM

DGates

First Last

No one cares what you think.

Aug 11 - 05:03 AM

Ben Agee

Ben Agee

dude, you should watch many movies again. possibly after drinking coffee but taking valium. i don't know. you can't expect everyone to get every movie the way you like it, but i guarantee you, not having seen "prairie home companion," that if you like that, you'll think the other movies you mentioned are crap. you're mentioning different caliber with robert altman and basically everything else you referenced. i repeat, i haven't seen the garrison keeler movie, but if "short cuts" (my least favorite altman) gets praised, i can't put it past critics or fans to like a movie about people telling banal stories on the radio. still, altman is one of the best ever, in the same way hal ashby was, directing brilliant and crap movies. i guess john boorman is the same, though i haven't seen "zardoz."

Aug 10 - 02:20 AM

Ben Agee

Ben Agee

dave jordan that is a long weird title. point is, tommy lee jones is, by anecdotes i've received, pretty much an asshole or at least an unforgiving hardass. in the coens' adaptation "no country..." he delivered one of my favorite lines ever, and i'm not going to try to replicate it. he's talking about cows to that horrible actress, she asks why he's telling her what he is, and he pauses and basically says, amidst this crisis, "i dunno... my mind wanders." his delivery on that sold me on him forever, however much an asshole he was at UT.

Aug 10 - 02:27 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

A couple of FAILs in that. 1) "Short Cuts" was a brilliant movie, not as great as "Nashville", but probably Altman's best of the last portion of his career. That's a matter of taste, and your Ashby love makes me want to let it slide. 2) Kelly MacDonald is a terrific actress, and that may also be a matter of taste, but I feel more confident just telling you that you're just wrong about that. 3) Tommy Lee Jones never attended any "UT", and I assume you mean the University of Texas. Tommy Lee Jones graduated from Harvard with a BA in English and a semi-famous record with their varsity football team. If your information about his personal attributes is as accurate as your info on his academic career, then I feel pretty confident discarding that as well.

Aug 10 - 11:03 AM

Dave J

Dave J

What Tommy Lee Jones does in his personal life has nothing to do with him acting in the "No Country..." movie, I just thought I'd point that out. (SPOILER WARNINGS) And according to some his character as Ed Bell gets killed off by Chigurh(Javier Bardem) while he was standing behind the door.

Aug 10 - 02:24 PM

filmex

Ken Filmex

Since the headline of "We count down the best-reviewed work..." then I would wonder how "Lonesome Dove" isn't at the top of the list, or any list.

Call it a mini-series, call it a six-hour move, call it whatever you want. Just mention it if you are offering a serious contemplation on the best of "the work" of Jones.

Aug 11 - 12:38 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Aww. Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick. Dwight McClusky from "Natural Born Killers" should really be on this list. Still, good to see some love for "Rolling Thunder" and "Melquiades Estrada". Also "Eyes of Laura Mars", "The Park is Mine" (that may have been an HBO original), "Under Siege", "Cobb", and "Jackson County Jail" and "Bad Moon Rising" are both great cult favorites.

Aug 8 - 04:39 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

Hey, what's up Janson? About to watch MARGARET tonight based on your recommendation, so you better not let me down. I just saw AMERICAN REUNION...sigh. I laughed three or four times; it's only for die-hard fans, you know the ones who actually rented the direct-to-video sequels. Otherwise, I recommend you pass on it, even with all T&A, Stiffler dialogue, returning classmates. In fact, it reminded me why I didn't bother to go to my high school reunion.

Aug 8 - 04:49 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Paquin gives a terrific performance. I've heard some people complain about the pace, but she shines through. I wish I could say "thanks" for your heads up on "Reunion", but I can't lie - there was very very little chance I would see that movie. I haven't seen any of the sequels, and am not much of a fan of the original (except for Eugene Levy's performance). So I'll just say, "thanks anyway".

Aug 8 - 05:01 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

Yeah he was great in Natural Born Killers..

Aug 9 - 09:09 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

Hey, what's up Janson? About to watch MARGARET tonight based on your recommendation, so you better not let me down. I just saw AMERICAN REUNION...sigh. I laughed three or four times; it's only for die-hard fans, you know the ones who actually rented the direct-to-video sequels. Otherwise, I recommend you pass on it, even with all T&A, Stiffler dialogue, returning classmates. In fact, it reminded me why I didn't bother to go to my high school reunion.

Aug 8 - 04:49 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Paquin gives a terrific performance. I've heard some people complain about the pace, but she shines through. I wish I could say "thanks" for your heads up on "Reunion", but I can't lie - there was very very little chance I would see that movie. I haven't seen any of the sequels, and am not much of a fan of the original (except for Eugene Levy's performance). So I'll just say, "thanks anyway".

Aug 8 - 05:01 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Paquin gives a terrific performance. I've heard some people complain about the pace, but she shines through. I wish I could say "thanks" for your heads up on "Reunion", but I can't lie - there was very very little chance I would see that movie. I haven't seen any of the sequels, and am not much of a fan of the original (except for Eugene Levy's performance). So I'll just say, "thanks anyway".

Aug 8 - 05:01 PM

Geeskater

Jamie Rogers

perhaps you havent seen this: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/man_of_the_house/

Aug 8 - 05:33 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

Uh...yes I know how RT rated it as well as its terrible reputation. Did you actually think I was being serious about MAN OF THE HOUSE? Wow.

Aug 8 - 06:02 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

No Country For Old Men is probably the most over-hyped, over-praised piece of shit I ever watched. Ok, piece of shit is pretty harsh, it did have it's merits.
Javier Bardem was insane as the psycho hitman..and .... that's about it. The rest of it was nonsense, smirkable and led to an ending that was straight up 'Who cares'.

Aug 8 - 05:58 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

I agree it was overhyped, the ending was a letdown and it won too many Academy Awards (still hurts that Paul Thomas Anderson got shafted), but Bardem, Jones, Harrelson, and Brolin were all so damn good I was hooked all the way. And I love the Coen's as much as the next person, but I felt the Academy was just way too masturbatory with NCFOM.

Aug 8 - 06:08 PM

Connor Settlemire

Connor Settlemire

The ending was the exact same as the book. It was one of the best adaptations ever made. Learn to deal with complex character work and endings that don't tie everything in a pretty bow. And I don't remember it being hyped at all. It just came out...and then sweeped the Academy Awards for its many merits. I sound like a whiny fanboy, but it is an incredible film even if you don't think so.

Aug 8 - 06:30 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

It was pretty hyped, at least from a critical standpoint - the critics jizzed all over themselves and anyone else who was unlucky enough to be sitting anywhere nearby. I can deal with complex character work fine, it's the part where none of it seems to have a point that I become disenchanted with the whole thing.

Aug 8 - 10:14 PM

Brian Turnbull

Brian Turnbull

@ Val - If you couldn't find a "point" in No Country, then you are honestly too stupid to have an opinion on the matter.

Aug 9 - 07:56 AM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

You're an idiot for thinking there was one...

Aug 9 - 11:36 AM

Seth McWhorter

Seth McWhorter

ah, such a stimulating conversation, you two!

Aug 9 - 06:47 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I love "NCFOM". It woke me up.

Aug 8 - 06:24 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

I'm with you, the performances were strong, but you really shouldn't be a nominee much less a winner for best picture when story and plot are almost completely ignored. Tons of movie's have great acting, but what makes it a great picture is when those performances make it a compelling story. I left No Country For Old Men thinking I'm glad I got to see those performances especially from Bardem and Brolin, but what was really the point beyond that? With that ending I might as well have just watched them do practice improv for 2 hrs.

Aug 8 - 07:16 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Attention needs to be paid to the last two major Tommy Lee Jones scenes in NCFOM to fully appreciate what the point of the film really was about, which you'll find is disillusionment in romantic notions of white hat/black hat good and evil. The film is a subversion of the hero myth, and very successful at doing that. The disappointment you're talking about is because the hero myth you wanted to see was shown to be a dream. "There Will Be Blood" was also brilliant, as was "Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" which wasn't even nominated. Some years, there's an embarrassment of riches.

Aug 8 - 07:48 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

I got that, but I'd also argue that it's a giant statement for why the hero myth is so important to movie's because it helps you avoid endings like that. Also if that's the case which I don't disagree with you that it is, what was the point of the car crash at the end? That's the part I really didn't get. If he dies, I get that it would have been a punch pulled like showing that fate punishes bad people, but with him getting up and walking away it was like WTF?

Aug 8 - 08:13 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The Coens are considered "contingency" filmmakers, making their plots reflect a lot of odd, implausible happenstances, usually laying waste to mice and men alike, and usually rendering much of the characters actions meaningless. This recurs in a number of their films. The point is that there is no "fate". No one is tending the fire, the light at the end of the tunnel. "A Serious Man" is actually very similar. So is "Chinatown", "Deer Hunter", "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" and many other films that don't end the way the characters want it to.

Aug 8 - 08:25 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

Now I'm tempted to check out NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN again. I only saw it once, so something tells me repeat viewings will yield more rewards, as most great films do; I'm due for a re-watch anyway.

Aug 8 - 08:51 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

A movie, in my opinion, does not need a predictable end - however it does need a discernible end. Cohen films seem like they are missing the last 10 minutes of movie.

Aug 8 - 10:21 PM

King  S.

King Simba

I liked NCFOM, but it did have its flaws. For one thing, while they may have been used to add depth to the story, from a plotwise point of view, Jones and his assistant had absolutely nothing to do. You could have completely removed them without any impact on the plot. Also, while the cat and mouse game between Brolin and Bardem was incredibely tense (better than what you see in most thrillers) the resolution was really dissapointing (All that buildup for something that happens offscreen?).

Finally, I really feel like the Coens give ambitious endings just for the sake of being ambitious. I'm not saying NCFOM should have had a happy ending where everyone gets what they want and the "bad guy" goes to jail or dies, but at the very least it should have been satisfactory. Planet of the Apes and Godfather didn't exactly have happy endings and yet they were iconic endings. With Coens, their films just....end without warning. One should be able to watch a third act without being worried that any minute the credits will roll without warning.

Aug 8 - 11:24 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Yeah J, but Chinatown and to a lesser extent The Deer Hunter's endings came across as strong and in Chinatown's case, was one of the best most classic parts of the movie. The best I can say about NCFOM's ending was it was there and different. It's the argument I always give when people talk about originality, just because something is original doesn't necessarily mean it's good. Just because the ending to NCFOM is different from what we're used to doesn't mean it's different in a good way. For me it was like the "Who is Cartman's Dad" episode on South Park where they just showed a Terrence and Phillip cartoon. I had the same problem with True Grit. Loved it right up until the end when they tacked on that useless 10 extra minutes for no apparent reason. **Spoiler** Did we have to know that Rooster died or that she never saw him again? Wouldn't it have been better just to leave it up to people's imaginations? It's like they were saying "For those of your who imagined a bright ending, just let us piss all over that for you for no other reason than we can."

Aug 9 - 12:44 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Over hyped? Too many awards? It was by far the best movie that year. Zodiac was a close second but NCFOM was a GREAT film and deserved everything it got. But whats up with Bardem? He hasn't done shit since NCFOM, well actually all he's done is shit. Now he's relegated to Bond villain status. The Oscar curse continues!!

Aug 9 - 08:55 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

@Bro - Again, all I can tell you is that it's all there spelled out in those last two TLJ scenes. Whether or not you think it "worked" or not, you're just wrong to think that the Coens simply ended the film arbitrarily "because they could", or to deliberately piss the audience off. No offense, but sometimes it seems as if many people just turned their ears off to all that talk-talk, waiting for some kind of showdown maybe, and missed out on something very powerful that was being said.

Aug 9 - 12:16 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Alright, you've convinced me. I need to watch it again. Well played Sir.

Aug 9 - 03:23 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

As for the "Because they could" comment that was directed at True Grit, which I still standby. The movie would have been a much better movie if they'd ended before her talk with Cole Younger and Frank James. That scene served no purpose but to end the movie on a depressing note. Otherwise an excellent movie in most ways superior to the original.

Aug 9 - 03:28 PM

Dave J

Dave J

@Bigbrother Actually, some people who've read the book say that the ending of "No Country..." was self explanatory whereas according to some the Javier character surviving the car crash scene was supposed to be a metaphor that he can't simply cannot be killed and that he represents the devil, because in the book he did succeed in retrieving the money but in this film he just simply walks away without accomplishing anything. The ending was very similar to John Sayles 1999 film "Limbo".

Aug 9 - 03:31 PM

Dave J

Dave J

What I meant to say is that "The ending was very similar to John Sayles 1999 film "Limbo where viewers can make up their own conclusions"

Aug 9 - 03:33 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

@ Infernal Dude Yes, my three favorites that year were ZODIAC, THERE WILL BE BLOOD and INTO THE WILD. I'm still floored the first and third were completely ignored by the Academy. If the Coen's won for picture and PTA won for his screenplay or vice versa, I would have been satisfied. That's just me though, whatever.

Aug 9 - 06:51 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

@ Kulik. My comment was in response to Val's comment. Though, it seems like we're an the same page on 2007s best movies cause I agree with your top three. Though Superbad and Hot Fuzz stick out for me too. That was interesting year because it was my last year of college and I lived next to a theater that showed independent/second run movies. I got to know the staff pretty well (fellow students, too) and I watched pretty much every major movie that came out that year for free. Plus they had beer which helped... Now that I think about it I probably spent more on beer and food than I would have at a regular cinema. Either way, NCFOM, Zodiac, SUPERBAD, and a few others were watched a lot that year, for me.

Aug 10 - 02:42 AM

Gregory Washington

Gregory Washington

I feel asleep om it...

Aug 11 - 08:35 PM

Caddy Cadogan

Caddy Cadogan

NCFOM is one of the most highly regarded books of the 21st century by the quintessential 21st century author. Your problems with the near-perfect film adaption only indicate a lack of intelligence on your part. If you don't "get" it, then you're in a depressing minority and should probably keep your opinions to yourself lest you get ridiculed.

Aug 10 - 02:07 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

Ridiculed by a big fag like you, who thinks he's smart because he liked a movie. Thought ever occur to you that people 'got it' and still didn't care for it due to their tastes? Nah that wouldn't, cuz you're too big of a cocky asshole to understand. Go fuck your mother, she's the only one who actually likes you.

Aug 10 - 11:54 PM

Devin Stevens

Devin Stevens

Oh wow. Another nobody on the internet who thinks he knows more than the educated professionals. What a shocker.

Aug 10 - 08:50 PM

DGates

First Last

No one cares what you think.

Aug 11 - 05:03 AM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

Uh...yes I know how RT rated it as well as its terrible reputation. Did you actually think I was being serious about MAN OF THE HOUSE? Wow.

Aug 8 - 06:02 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

I agree it was overhyped, the ending was a letdown and it won too many Academy Awards (still hurts that Paul Thomas Anderson got shafted), but Bardem, Jones, Harrelson, and Brolin were all so damn good I was hooked all the way. And I love the Coen's as much as the next person, but I felt the Academy was just way too masturbatory with NCFOM.

Aug 8 - 06:08 PM

Connor Settlemire

Connor Settlemire

The ending was the exact same as the book. It was one of the best adaptations ever made. Learn to deal with complex character work and endings that don't tie everything in a pretty bow. And I don't remember it being hyped at all. It just came out...and then sweeped the Academy Awards for its many merits. I sound like a whiny fanboy, but it is an incredible film even if you don't think so.

Aug 8 - 06:30 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

It was pretty hyped, at least from a critical standpoint - the critics jizzed all over themselves and anyone else who was unlucky enough to be sitting anywhere nearby. I can deal with complex character work fine, it's the part where none of it seems to have a point that I become disenchanted with the whole thing.

Aug 8 - 10:14 PM

Brian Turnbull

Brian Turnbull

@ Val - If you couldn't find a "point" in No Country, then you are honestly too stupid to have an opinion on the matter.

Aug 9 - 07:56 AM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

You're an idiot for thinking there was one...

Aug 9 - 11:36 AM

Seth McWhorter

Seth McWhorter

ah, such a stimulating conversation, you two!

Aug 9 - 06:47 PM

Andrew I.

Andrew Imrie

I'm assuming it's an oversight, but Jones did not win an Oscar for JFK, he was only nominated.

Aug 8 - 06:18 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I love "NCFOM". It woke me up.

Aug 8 - 06:24 PM

Connor Settlemire

Connor Settlemire

The ending was the exact same as the book. It was one of the best adaptations ever made. Learn to deal with complex character work and endings that don't tie everything in a pretty bow. And I don't remember it being hyped at all. It just came out...and then sweeped the Academy Awards for its many merits. I sound like a whiny fanboy, but it is an incredible film even if you don't think so.

Aug 8 - 06:30 PM

Barbara Eskin

Barbara Eskin

Hello! What about "Cobb?"

Aug 8 - 06:51 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

I know it's a TV Mini-series, but there should really be some mention of Lonesome Dove. As great as he was in films like Under Siege and The Fugitive he'll always be retired Ranger Woodrow Call to me. It don't pay to anger Woodrow Call. Him and Duvall were magic in that series.

Aug 8 - 07:12 PM

Matthew Weilenmann

Matthew Weilenmann

I agree about Lonesome Dove, I do love me my Westerners and it was a hell of a lot better than 'No Country for Old Men'. I'm amazed more people don't know of the Lonesome Dove series, it was before my generation, but I saw the acting roster and knew I had to see it: I was not disappointed. I have shown it to a few friends and they are always like whoa there is Duvall, Glover is in this? What Buscemi? hahahaha

Aug 10 - 10:23 AM

filmex

Ken Filmex

If you haven't seen it, you really have no business talking about "the best" of Jones. It's a landmark. Arguably the best work ever by Jones AND Duvall, with career-advancing performances from Danny Glover, Chris Cooper, Diane Lane, Glenne Headly, Steve Buscemi, Barry Corbin and others.

To say it's from "another generation" is to admit you passed On "The Wild Bunch" and "A Clockwork Orange" because they're "old"

Aug 11 - 12:49 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Yeah, Robert Urich, Angelica Huston and Rick Shroeder too. One of the strongest ensemble pieces ever made. It was a crime when they did the prequals with David Arquette and Johnny Lee Miller. Even James Gardner and Jon Voight couldn't carry Jones role in the series.

Aug 11 - 09:29 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

I'm with you, the performances were strong, but you really shouldn't be a nominee much less a winner for best picture when story and plot are almost completely ignored. Tons of movie's have great acting, but what makes it a great picture is when those performances make it a compelling story. I left No Country For Old Men thinking I'm glad I got to see those performances especially from Bardem and Brolin, but what was really the point beyond that? With that ending I might as well have just watched them do practice improv for 2 hrs.

Aug 8 - 07:16 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Attention needs to be paid to the last two major Tommy Lee Jones scenes in NCFOM to fully appreciate what the point of the film really was about, which you'll find is disillusionment in romantic notions of white hat/black hat good and evil. The film is a subversion of the hero myth, and very successful at doing that. The disappointment you're talking about is because the hero myth you wanted to see was shown to be a dream. "There Will Be Blood" was also brilliant, as was "Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" which wasn't even nominated. Some years, there's an embarrassment of riches.

Aug 8 - 07:48 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

I got that, but I'd also argue that it's a giant statement for why the hero myth is so important to movie's because it helps you avoid endings like that. Also if that's the case which I don't disagree with you that it is, what was the point of the car crash at the end? That's the part I really didn't get. If he dies, I get that it would have been a punch pulled like showing that fate punishes bad people, but with him getting up and walking away it was like WTF?

Aug 8 - 08:13 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The Coens are considered "contingency" filmmakers, making their plots reflect a lot of odd, implausible happenstances, usually laying waste to mice and men alike, and usually rendering much of the characters actions meaningless. This recurs in a number of their films. The point is that there is no "fate". No one is tending the fire, the light at the end of the tunnel. "A Serious Man" is actually very similar. So is "Chinatown", "Deer Hunter", "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" and many other films that don't end the way the characters want it to.

Aug 8 - 08:25 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

Now I'm tempted to check out NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN again. I only saw it once, so something tells me repeat viewings will yield more rewards, as most great films do; I'm due for a re-watch anyway.

Aug 8 - 08:51 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

A movie, in my opinion, does not need a predictable end - however it does need a discernible end. Cohen films seem like they are missing the last 10 minutes of movie.

Aug 8 - 10:21 PM

King  S.

King Simba

I liked NCFOM, but it did have its flaws. For one thing, while they may have been used to add depth to the story, from a plotwise point of view, Jones and his assistant had absolutely nothing to do. You could have completely removed them without any impact on the plot. Also, while the cat and mouse game between Brolin and Bardem was incredibely tense (better than what you see in most thrillers) the resolution was really dissapointing (All that buildup for something that happens offscreen?).

Finally, I really feel like the Coens give ambitious endings just for the sake of being ambitious. I'm not saying NCFOM should have had a happy ending where everyone gets what they want and the "bad guy" goes to jail or dies, but at the very least it should have been satisfactory. Planet of the Apes and Godfather didn't exactly have happy endings and yet they were iconic endings. With Coens, their films just....end without warning. One should be able to watch a third act without being worried that any minute the credits will roll without warning.

Aug 8 - 11:24 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Yeah J, but Chinatown and to a lesser extent The Deer Hunter's endings came across as strong and in Chinatown's case, was one of the best most classic parts of the movie. The best I can say about NCFOM's ending was it was there and different. It's the argument I always give when people talk about originality, just because something is original doesn't necessarily mean it's good. Just because the ending to NCFOM is different from what we're used to doesn't mean it's different in a good way. For me it was like the "Who is Cartman's Dad" episode on South Park where they just showed a Terrence and Phillip cartoon. I had the same problem with True Grit. Loved it right up until the end when they tacked on that useless 10 extra minutes for no apparent reason. **Spoiler** Did we have to know that Rooster died or that she never saw him again? Wouldn't it have been better just to leave it up to people's imaginations? It's like they were saying "For those of your who imagined a bright ending, just let us piss all over that for you for no other reason than we can."

Aug 9 - 12:44 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Over hyped? Too many awards? It was by far the best movie that year. Zodiac was a close second but NCFOM was a GREAT film and deserved everything it got. But whats up with Bardem? He hasn't done shit since NCFOM, well actually all he's done is shit. Now he's relegated to Bond villain status. The Oscar curse continues!!

Aug 9 - 08:55 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

@Bro - Again, all I can tell you is that it's all there spelled out in those last two TLJ scenes. Whether or not you think it "worked" or not, you're just wrong to think that the Coens simply ended the film arbitrarily "because they could", or to deliberately piss the audience off. No offense, but sometimes it seems as if many people just turned their ears off to all that talk-talk, waiting for some kind of showdown maybe, and missed out on something very powerful that was being said.

Aug 9 - 12:16 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Alright, you've convinced me. I need to watch it again. Well played Sir.

Aug 9 - 03:23 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

As for the "Because they could" comment that was directed at True Grit, which I still standby. The movie would have been a much better movie if they'd ended before her talk with Cole Younger and Frank James. That scene served no purpose but to end the movie on a depressing note. Otherwise an excellent movie in most ways superior to the original.

Aug 9 - 03:28 PM

Dave J

Dave J

@Bigbrother Actually, some people who've read the book say that the ending of "No Country..." was self explanatory whereas according to some the Javier character surviving the car crash scene was supposed to be a metaphor that he can't simply cannot be killed and that he represents the devil, because in the book he did succeed in retrieving the money but in this film he just simply walks away without accomplishing anything. The ending was very similar to John Sayles 1999 film "Limbo".

Aug 9 - 03:31 PM

Dave J

Dave J

What I meant to say is that "The ending was very similar to John Sayles 1999 film "Limbo where viewers can make up their own conclusions"

Aug 9 - 03:33 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

@ Infernal Dude Yes, my three favorites that year were ZODIAC, THERE WILL BE BLOOD and INTO THE WILD. I'm still floored the first and third were completely ignored by the Academy. If the Coen's won for picture and PTA won for his screenplay or vice versa, I would have been satisfied. That's just me though, whatever.

Aug 9 - 06:51 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

@ Kulik. My comment was in response to Val's comment. Though, it seems like we're an the same page on 2007s best movies cause I agree with your top three. Though Superbad and Hot Fuzz stick out for me too. That was interesting year because it was my last year of college and I lived next to a theater that showed independent/second run movies. I got to know the staff pretty well (fellow students, too) and I watched pretty much every major movie that came out that year for free. Plus they had beer which helped... Now that I think about it I probably spent more on beer and food than I would have at a regular cinema. Either way, NCFOM, Zodiac, SUPERBAD, and a few others were watched a lot that year, for me.

Aug 10 - 02:42 AM

Gregory Washington

Gregory Washington

I feel asleep om it...

Aug 11 - 08:35 PM

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