This movie is vintage Coen Bros. that come Oscar time deserves nods for Best Picture, Best Original Song, Best Original Score, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Cinematographer. That is how good this movie is.
I really didn’t know what to expect when I streamed The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs on Netflix. But I trust the Coen Brothers. They seldom disappoint. And this movie, a series of short stories taking place in the Old West, exceeded expectations. Their creativity never ceases to amaze.
Some of the stories originate from the hilarious side of the Coen Brothers. A couple are bittersweet. And more than one has a deep underlying meaning - especially the last story - that almost takes your breath away. There is a common theme: Death. What do we expect with Death? Have we sold our souls to live a moment longer? Would we? Questions are asked in these stories.
If you are an actor, and you want to know how facial expressions can turn a performance, watch a Coen Brothers flick. This is a prime example. And there are some damn great performances from what is an all-star cast.
Personally, I think Zoe Kazan deserves an Oscar nod for Alice Longabaugh. She was captivating in that role. And man, was it great to see Tyne Daly (who already has one Oscar) deliver another statuette performance. Tim Blake Nelson in the first segment as Buster Scruggs sells this movie from the get-go. Another Oscar-worthy performance. And frankly, he is overdue. There are a ton of great performances here that you don’t know where to begin. But those seemed, to me anyway, to rise above the rest.
This script is absolutely solid. The way it weaves from comedy to drama, relief to deep undercurrents is great. There isn’t a boring story in this mix. A couple are meant to really make you think. A couple others, to make you laugh until you cry.
The thing is, none of these stories from the Old West are like anything else you’ve seen before. The Coen Brothers, as usual, are blazing their own trail here. The camera work is awesome and brings in the scope of the West as well as any Western has ever done.
Let me say a word about the music. When Cowboys Trade In Their Spurs For Wings absolutely DESERVES a Best Song nod. It is a catchy tune, very well done, and a throwback to when songs were written for scenes in movies. Not a big rockstar or rap piece by a known name inserted simply to win an Oscar. It really stands on it’s own. Great song. And the soundtrack by Carter Burwell, yeah, gotta be in the discussion come award season.
I got so much out of this movie. It had me in tears both from laughing and in bittersweet moments. It had me thinking on the dark themes that underlay this production. This is what movies are suppose to do. And fortunately, the Coen Brothers do it time and time again. This will be a classic Coen Brothers movie. Definitely a 5/5 on the rating scale.