No Country for Old Men

There are no clean getaways.

My favorite filmmakers, the Coen brothers, finally got the biggest Oscar for a story of men dying in the pursuit of ill-gotten money.

It’s not quite the equal of Fargo, nor my personal #1 pick from their filmography — The Hudsucker Proxy — but it’s better than 97% of what Hollywood delivers.

Javier Bardem has the showiest role as a grim reaper driving dusty backroads accompanied by just his trusty, bolt-firing gun, but it’s Tommy Lee Jones who provides the battered heart.

Staring into the abyss, he refuses to blink, one last good man in a very bad world.

 

Ad Astra

Space, the loneliest frontier.

An emotionally-damaged son goes on an interstellar trek to find his distant, foreboding father, with the possible fate of the galaxy at stake in this beautifully-rendered sci-fi flick.

There’s some space pirates, and a killer baboon or two, tossed in to keep the eyeballs jumping, but this is much more about ideas than shoot-em-up theatrics.

Brad Pitt gives us some solid brooding, while Tommy Lee Jones is just about the perfect poster boy for aloof, fanatical fathers who have scarred their offspring, and couldn’t care less.

Remember, no one can hear you cry in space.

Coal Miner’s Daughter

The lady can wail.

Few country music artists have reached the heights, or had the kind of voice, that Loretta Lynn does.

A mother of four by age 19, she overcame long odds to become one of the defining singers of the genre, the only woman to be tabbed as an Artist of the Decade by the Academy of Country Music.

You make a biopic of her, you better come with the best, and, lord, that is Sissy Spacek.

Singing for herself, she knocks it out of the park, and rightfully nabbed an Academy Award.

One legend playing a second legend.

The Fugitive

“Richard, do you wanna get shot?!!”

Tommy Lee Jones isn’t messing around as U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard, relentlessly chasing Harrison Ford’s accused wife-killer in one of the few remakes to achieve greatness.

Springing from the ’60s TV show of the same name, but adding its own twists and turns, plus one of the best train wrecks captured on film, this remains a superior thriller.

You have two intense actors warily circling one another, a great early-career cameo for Julianne Moore, and a slick mix of mystery and action courtesy director Andrew Davis.

A blockbuster which truly deserved its financial windfall.

Lonesome Dove

Perfection.

Everything hits just right in this landmark TV miniseries, an epic ode to life (and death) on the dusty trail.

Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones headline as former Texas Rangers – a bit long in the tooth, but nowhere past their prime.

Holding fast to their idealism in a rapidly changing world, our heroes live life by a few hard and fast rules.

Which, at one point, means stringing up longtime riding buddy Robert Urich after he breaks bad, in one of the most unsettling deaths ever put on screen.

There’s been a billion Westerns made. This one endures.