Best Movies of the 2010s
#14 – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
I’ve gone on record naming the Coen Brothers as my favorite filmmakers, so it should come as no surprise that they landed two films on my Best of the 2010s list.
I will wait until I get to the next one to talk about the Coens’ decade overall.
But today, a few words about the brothers’ last film of the decade, the Western anthology The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
Every couple of years (and more often than that lately), the Coen Brothers release another film that cements their place among America’s finest and most consistent filmmakers. Recently, on the heels of 2007’s Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men, they released the hilarious screwball comedy Burn After Reading and last year’s brilliantly dark Book of Job-inspired A Serious Man.
In 2010, they return with True Grit, not so much a remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic, they say, but a more faithful adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel. Having neither seen the original film nor read Portis’ novel, I’m in a position to judge the Coens’ film simply on its own merits.
The verdict: it’s sublime.
Let me say right up front that I’ve never been able to properly digest a Coen Brothers movie after just one viewing. So anything I say about this one is probably just half of what I’ll think about it once I know it a little better. And I definitely look forward to knowing it better, so that says something right there.
Following their biggest commercial and critical success, the multiple Oscar-winning, violently bleak No Country For Old Men, the Coens have returned to another of their strengths, screwball comedy. But what struck me most about Burn After Reading is that it is as pessimistic about humanity — if not more so — than No Country.
(Minor spoilers follow, so read at your own risk)