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This was a surprising year all around as a monster film dressed up as a neo-Western from the Coen Brothers of Minnesota took the top film prize, and four European actors swept all the acting prizes leaving the likes of Johnny Depp and George Clooney out in the cold. London born Daniel Day-Lewis (50) picked up his second Best-Actor Oscar, to no one's surprise for his work in Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood", but Best Actress to Marion Cotillard (33) for her portrayal of Edith Piaff  in "La Vie en Rose" was a bit unexpected as the film came out in the States nearly a year ago and was semi-forgotten -- well-earned nevertheless.  Unglamorous British actress Tilda Swinton (47) was a dark horse Best Supporting Actress in Clooney starrer "Michael Clayton" and another surprsise, but the big shocker was Spaniard Javier Bardem (38) for his deadpan delivery of an indestructible Frankenstein monster in the Coen Brothers successor to "The Texas Chain-Saw Massacre" entitled oddly, "No Country For Old Men".   Good title, but "The West Texas Oxygen Tank Blow Away Slaughter" might have been more to the point.
"No Country" is a top-flight piece of Horror-tainment but, by no means the profound philosophical indictment of the American Dream that some critics (for example in Poland) are making it out to be.  For one thing there is absolutely nothing American about "Anton Chigurh" (Bardem) the hulking, straight-from-Hell central villain of the piece -- the name in fact, suggests Central Europe or Mongolia. Nor does this beautifully barren stretch of West Texas where the film was shot, in any way, represent America as a whole.  It's actually, come to think of it, more like Mongolia! The Coens obviously had one helluva time making this over-the-top monster-thriller but, let's face it -- these guys, while extremely skillful filmmakers, 
are not film philosophers and social critics on the level of, say, the Bergmans and the Antonionis. If anything, they're highly competent horror comedians.
"No Country" nosed  out "There Will Be Blood" for the Best Picture award but P. T. Anderson, still a tender 38, did cop Best Director, thus duplicating his award for the same honor at Berlin just weeks ago. The underlying moral, if there is one, is probably that classy entertainment like "No Country" will always win out over serious history ("Blood" is an historical study of American Oil Baronry in the last century) -- at least in Hollywood.
Alex, Warsaw, March 2, 2008


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THE FESTIVALS BLOG by Alex Deleon. Watch for festival coverage from the circuit.

Ambiance and reviews from the hot spots. Welcoming your comments too.

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