In the days leading up to the Oscars, Sentimental Movie Marathon will take a look at each of the Best Picture Nominees. This is OSCAR BONANZA: TOO MUCH FILM IN YO’ FACE. Here is a look at the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man which has so many levels!
1. WHAT IS A SERIOUS MAN?
A Serious Man is the Coen Brothers’ follow- up to No Country for Old Men and Burn After Reading.
The film deals with the question of why bad things happen to good people. A Serious Man is informed by Jewish tradition, and culture. Michael Stuhlbarg plays the Job figure, Larry Gopnik. Larry is a physics professor dealing with a divorce, teenaged children, an impending tenure decision, money troubles, and an ethical dilemma involving student bribes. Bad things for Larry. No country for satisfied men over here.
2. WHAT DOES A SERIOUS MAN HAVE GOING FOR IT?
First of all, the Oscars love the Coen brothers. They want to treat the Coen brothers to a dinner, take them for a drive down by the beach, put out a blanket, and just talk. If things go from there, that’s fine, but, hey, no pressure, Coen brothers. Oscars respect you too much. Whatever happens, they will watch the sunrise together and bask in the promise of a new day, of a new life, of a new love.
The film also stands out among the Best Picture nominees. Its mix of humor, theology, morals, allusion, tradition, and ambiguity make it a markedly different film from the rest of the pack. That could be a good thing! (but it also could be bad!)
The cast of A Serious Man is top notch. It’s a cast where almost everyone is a character actor, but that lends a degree of reality to the film. Stuhlbarg juggles the roles of father, teacher, husband, worrier, and wanderer with ease. Good Job, Mike!
People also loved the film’s trailer.
3. WHAT COULD MAKE A SERIOUS MAN HAVE A SERIOUSLY DISAPPOINTING EVENING OF LOSING?
While the movie is good, nay, very good, it’s not as accessible as some of the other nominees. Its accessibility comes into play in both its release and the ease at which it is digested. While it is a Coen movie, it was not as available as, say, Fargo. It also doesn’t have that BZZZZ that Fargo/No Country for Old Men had. Sometimes, the film is downright weird (in good ways) which might affect whether or not Oscar voters buy what A Serious Man is selling.
The film also lacks star power. There are recognizable faces, but they are not the type of actors that will build up the BZZZZZ of the film. In a year with only five Oscar nominees, A Serious Man would be one of the contenders that would probably miss the cut because not many would make a fuss about its exclusion.
4. WILL I TOTALLY LOSE MY SHIT IF A SERIOUS MAN WINS?
I’d be glad with a win for A Serious Man. While it is a dark horse, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good film. It’s a good film. Man, those Coens know how to make movies! There could potentially be some big time backlash against the movie because it does not seem like a critical or popular favorite. It also doesn’t have an underdog quality. Despite that it is a worthy nominee and would be a worthy winner.