The Formula checks out...
Only the most correct subjects can expect to score anywhere near 300fc points. These three films went above and beyond their call this calendar year, and now assume their rightful places in the annals of cinematic history. Scored, as always, in the name of science, using the Formula for Film Correctness.
No Country For Old Men // 361fc
Directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, 122 min
Veiled by a simple plot of a fugitive and his pursuers, the resonance of this film seeps from within the wide-open spaces. In recent memory there has not been a film that so rightfully deserves every single laudatory adjective thrown its way: terrifying, humane, epic, intimate, funny, deadly serious, and so on etc. With craft and atmosphere aplenty, the Coens may have added what could go down as a masterpiece to their already near (see: Intolerable Cruelty, Ladykillers) flawless catalog of work. The only question is whether or not they were right in adapting the material so closely to Cormac McCarthy’s original work – including an unexpectedly sudden denouement and dreamlike epilogue. In the opinion of The Formula, the risk taken in walking hand in hand with the source material speaks not of a lack of creativity, but more in the understanding and execution of a model of implacable storytelling.
There Will Be Blood // 361fc
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, 158 min
Paul Thomas Anderson barrels in with his fifth entry in a filmography that stands among the most important and distinctive in modern film. While There Will Be Blood hums along the same epic scope and seemingly effortless execution that made his previous works memorable, more than the time period and setting have changed. The true departure with this effort is its importance to now, arguably his first major work – depicting the evolution of obsession in a crumbling soul. Day Lewis’ misogynistic “Daniel Plainview” is grand enough to be an environment unto himself, and drilling into him proves to be the greater purpose – PT does so with ferocity and a sharpened set of tools.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly // 312fc
Directed by Julian Schnabel, 112 min
Julian Schnabel manages to tell the true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby so inventively you may forget how rotten and bland recent biopics have been. The film, aided by Mathieu Amalric’s pitch-perfect performance, soars with range and emotion: sprinkling anger, joy, and wry humor beneath it. Ultimately, the fascinating part is not that actor and director take you on an indelible tour through the highest and lowest points of the human experience, it’s the grace with which they do it.
See you next year!