Featured: Remembering ‘There Will Be Blood’ and ‘No Country for Old Men’
As you may have heard on a few recent episodes of the InSession Film Podcast, this weekend on Episode 236 we’ll be continuing our year-by-year retrospective series by diving into the films of 2007. In many cinephile circles, 2007 is considered to be one of the best years in film ever to be recorded, and for good reason. It was a very, very deep year with arguably several films that would be vying for a spot in the Top 5 films of this century so far. The two-headed monster that would be at the top of that list would of course be Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and the Coen’s No Country for Old Men. As far as a one-two punch goes, it doesn’t get any better than those two films.
No Country for Old Men may have won the Oscar for Best Picture that year, but in truth, it’s a toss up between each film if you’re going to argue which was is “better.” If our poll this week is any indication, we aren’t the only one’s who feel that way as the votes right now are very much split between the two films. It should be fun to see where they rank in our lists this weekend, as I’m sure we’ll be diving heavily into both at one point or another.
Remembering back to 2007, I was more familiar with the Coen brothers at the time, with films such as Fargo, The Big Lebowski and Raising Arizona being in rotation amongst my friends. In fact, There Will Be Blood may have been my introduction to Paul Thomas Anderson. I was aware of Boogie Nights and Magnolia, but I didn’t catch up with those films until later, as well as other PTA films. So at the time No Country for Old Men subjectively had more of my attention, especially given how jarring No Country was for me as it upended my previous experience with the Coen’s. Fargo had its fair share of dark moments, but overall it was balanced with some biting humor. Lebowski, Arizona, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? a few years previously were more in the comedic realm than drama. So for me, the Coen’s weren’t filmmakers that defined themselves by tense thrillers. And….I had nightmares over Anton Chigurh. Good God was Javier Bardem terrifying in that film, and if you know how the film ends, his performance lends itself well to nightmares. I’m sure that’s part of the reason he won an Oscar that year, all the voters were scared to death. Either way, it was a viscerally memorable experience given how different it was for me in regard to the Coen’s, but also because the film doesn’t feature a false note, or at least that’s what I would argue. It’s a breathtaking picture.
All of that said, despite less familiarity with PTA, I was also blown away by the prowess of There Will Be Blood and Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance. It’s a film that has been studied heavily since 2007, so I won’t go into it too much here, but I will admit that I agree with most of the essay’s out there about this film’s evolution into American capitalism and the commentary PTA is making with his exploration of Daniel Plainview. But more than that, what struck a chord with me the most, is the humanity at the center of all of that subtext. The progression of Plainview as a person is equally as fascinating to me.
2007 had a lot going for it in terms of film, and again we’ll dive into that heavily on Episode 236, but no doubt that it will be defined by these two great films. That said, where do you sit on the the debate between these two films. Let us know in the comment section below and stay tuned for our Retrospective.
If you’re looking to the theaters this weekend, here’s what you can expect to see:
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D (limited)
Birth of the Dragon (limited)
Death Note (Netflix)