Prior to the Oscar season, one award you could say Atonement had a firm grip on without sounding like a chronic masturbator, or the cat lady from The Simpsons, was this one. How could it lose? Adapted by Christopher Hampton, so doting of poets and painters and popping bodices, from a revered novel by the very writerly Ian McEwan, Atonement is about an author who atones for her sins through, you got it, adaptation. But what was meta on the page became fetish in cinematic form, so the clackety-freakin’-clack of Briony’s typewriter, like that infernal word—oh, that infernal word!—that shall not be spoken, only seen, in all its Couriered glory, many feet high and wide, became not only an aphrodisiac for the Anthony Minghella sect but a nightmare for anyone who has ever had the displeasure of being on the receiving end of an Avril Lavigne fan’s weapon of choice: the Caps Lock key! So, with WGA’s cold shoulder tantamount to “WUT THE FUCK IS UR FUCKING PROBLEM U FUCKING BITCH! WUT THE HELL!! U SUCK SO BAD!! U DUN EVEN NOE HER YET UR MAKIN FUN OF HER!! SHE GOT TALENT…AND U DONT SO FUCK OF AND SHUT UR MOUTH BITCH!,” this one has been reduced to a race between No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, by most accounts the only two films that have (at least should have) a stake on the Best Picture prize, and if I discount The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, in spite of its interest in the ALSKDJFHGZMZNCBVQPOWIUEYRT’s of our language, it’s because Julian Schnabel’s own use of the Caps Lock function behind the camera is the star of that fashion show. Not that the majority of AMPAS voters contemplate the process of adaptation when casting their votes here, but the race between No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood may be decided by those who do. Keith Uhlich of The House Next Door, in a recent podcast over at Movie Geeks United! fittingly says that Joel and Ethan Coen’s very faithful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men comes close to a book on tape; as for There Will Be Blood, the five people in the world who’ve read Upton Sinclair’s Oil! seem to think Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation is so lose that a nomination in the Original Screenplay category would have been more fitting. I’ll concede that Anderson took more liberties, if not risks, and while a vote for There Will Be Blood is also a vote for Daniel Day-Lewis’s Plainview bringing movie geeks everywhere to the yard with his arsenal of potent quotables, is there really any stopping what’s coming at this point?
Will Win: No Country for Old Men
Should Win: No Country for Old Men
Since 2001, we've brought you uncompromising, candid takes on the world of film, music, television, video games, theater, and more. Independently owned and operated publications like Slant have been hit hard in recent years, but we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or fees.
If you like what we do, please consider subscribing to our Patreon or making a donation.