I’m repeating myself, yes, but I can’t help gnashing my teeth over how mushy and…well, Barack Obama-minded the thinking is right now among Best Picture prognosticators in the case of the Coen Bros.’ A Serious Man — easily one of their wittiest and most sharply cut films, and hands down one of the year’s best.
To my knowledge Serious still has only a handful of ardent supporters — myself, The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil, Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone, In Contention‘s Kris Tapley, The Wrap‘s Steve Pond, Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers, legendary Oscar-watcher Robert Osborne, etc. Am I missing anyone?
Okay, that’s more than a handful, but this Focus Features release really should have legions behind it at this stage. The Movie Godz are appalled that it’s not locked down as one of the no-questions-asked contenders. I talk to them and I know. You wouldn’t believe the hand-wringing going on up there. Is this because the film says God doesn’t love or care, religion can’t help and we’re basically helpless before whatever dark fate may befall us? Well, that’s true, isn’t it? Shouldn’t at least one film out of the ten be allowed to feel this way?
The blockage is mainly about a perception in some (okay, most) quarters that the film is, at bottom, a chilly, misanthropic thing. This of course is seen as a demerit by the pulse-taskers because Best Picture contenders are required to provide a semblance of positive assurance. A Serious Man is very, very comforting to me because it’s so ruthlessly well shaped, perfectly performed, richly comedic and unstinting in its world view, which at the very least proves that vision lives in this industry. Vision and exactitude and making films that play just so without sanding the edges.
(Thanks to Sasha Stone for posting the above trade ad on Sunday.)