Anybody want to join a grassroots movement to rescind those Oscars the Coen Brothers just won for No Country for Old Men? It’s not that I have anything personal against the Coens or the movie: I rather like most of the Coens’ flicks, and I thoroughly enjoyed No Country for Old Men.
But I just burned through Cormac McCarthy’s underlying novel — and for anyone who’s had to hack a path through some of the guy’s denser works, take note that this is one sleek, fleet-footed read — and pretty much everything that’s great about the movie was already on the page before the Coens went to work. It’s virtually a scene-for-scene transposition from book to screen. All the Coens needed to do was hire the right actors, work out the camera placements and then stay the hell out of the story’s way, a task they managed quite well. As far as I can tell, their biggest and most original contribution was to give Anton Chigurh that mop-top Beatles haircut. McCarthy did all the heavy lifting.
And yet we’ve heard endless choruses about the genius of the Coen Brothers, how stark and spare they made the film, what wonderfully pared-down storytelling they employed. The ungrateful dweebs didn’t even give McCarthy his props on Oscar night. So take back those statuettes and put Cormac McCarthy’s name on them. When it comes to Old Country for Old Men, the auteur is Cormac McCarthy, not the Coen Brothers.
Say now, there’s a title for a movie — No Country for Ungrateful Dweebs. If I knock out a treatment, you think the Coens would sign on as producers?