I know I'm probably the last person to review these two movies, but I still wanted to write it down. They were both nominated for Oscars today, and both definitely rank high on my list of best movies. First, Atonement, was a beautifully-shot romantic, tragic drama. This was the first movie I saw with Keira Knightly where I actually wanted to see more of her on the screen. She's really becoming an actress that makes the story come together, and she's still really young. Her interactions with James McAvoy were just electric. They were really in love, though fighting in a very middle school kind of way for the first third of the movie. Knightly's little sister, Saorise Ronan - nominated for an Oscar!, is a scary little girl with a mean streak who is crazy jealous of McAvoy's attention to Knightly (even though she's just 11) and ultimately accuses McAvoy of assaulting their cousin (she was young, it was dark and she was angry at him). He gets out of prison to fight in the war - which was my only major problem with the movie, too much time looking at the thousands of soldiers trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk. I know I'm just an ignorant American, but I really didn't find the significance that our hero was trapped on a beach with thousands of others. Back at home was much more interesting, as Knightly and her sister are nurses in London and we find out Knightly split with her family over all the accusations against her love. Her sister (now grown up and played by Romola Garai perfectly) is trying to "atone" for the lies she told that ruined people's lives by being a nurse too. There's a big twist at the end, that blew me away and made me rethink the rest of the movie, but overall, I loved it. It's beautifully romantic, sad, and hopeful. 5 of 5 stars.
I have very little to add to all the other reviews of No Country for Old Men. You've been living under a rock if you haven't heard all the amazing acclaim it's been getting, and I agree with all of it. It's a unique movie, with incredibly odd characters, telling a very simple story with flair. I do have a confession though - I wasn't sure I could handle all the violence that's even in the previews, so I read a full description of what happens, who gets killed, by whom, etc. I actually think that made me like the movie even MORE because I wasn't dragged down by fear. It was still very suspenseful, and you're never quite sure who are going to be accessory bodies to the main killing. It made it easy to look away when something really gross was going on, but I still got to really enjoy the movie. Javier Bardem, with a very strange haircut, was the star of the movie - a hired assassin who takes it very seriously because he bargains with no one and kills anyone who sees him. I do have to give him (and the Coen brothers) a lot of credit, he's not crazy, just totally insane. He carries around a cattle gun, including compressed air canister, that he uses to both kill people and break down doors. I really liked the entire supporting cast too. Tommy Lee Jones is perfect as the "Marge Gunderson" of Texas. He's the sheriff who is sick and tired of being overwhelmed with the evil coming through his area - drugs, guns, money, just out of control. He's just terrific narrating as well as acting throughout the movie. James Brolin is good as the guy hunted by Bardem, but I didn't quite understand his motivation behind stealing $2million from drug dealers. He seems to be street-wise and knows how bad it's going to get, but yet he's not arrogant in general, but is making a really stupid mistake to get involved like he does. That was my only problem with the movie. I liked the end - all kinds of people get away with surprising things. 5 of 5 stars
Overall, I liked Atonement more than No Country, but really agree with all the nominations given to both throughout the whole awards season.
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