Every once in a while, a movie comes along that wins an Oscar and yet somehow manages to leave the audience with more questions than answers. Usually, these movies feature unique plots and aren’t exactly your traditional narrative-driven film. As much as these types of movies might confuse us, there’s still something about them that captures our hearts, imagination and of course, an Academy Award. The following are some of these Oscar-Winning movies which left major questions unanswered and why these ambiguities might actually make for a better viewing experience.
No Country for Old Men
No Country for Old Men is an exceptional example of a movie that gets away with not explaining major points. The 2007 movie is an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, directed by the Coen brothers, who are famous for making divisive and genre-bending films.
The movie is set in West Texas in the mid-1980s, and follows Llewelyn Moss, a hunter who stumbles across a drug deal gone wrong. After Moss finds a satchel of money and takes it, he is pursued by a relentless drug cartel hit man named Anton Chigurh. The haunting and relentless Chigurh is a pivotal character in the movie who keeps it from ever becoming straightforward.
The movie is also known for its abrupt ending with neither Moss nor Chigurh getting justice in the end. No Country for Old Men is deeply metaphoric and symbolic, and while it has won four Oscars, it still leaves complicated matters unanswered. The undisclosed and complicated emotions of the characters are the reasons why this movie works and the mistiness of the story makes it even more compelling.
The Departed is a 2006 American crime drama set in South Boston. It follows Massachusetts State Police Captain Colin Sullivan, who infiltrates the Massachusetts State Police. At the same time, an undercover cop named Billy Costigan is sent to infiltrate the Irish mafia run by a cold and manipulative criminal mastermind known as Frank Costello.
The Departed works as both a crime story, as well as an exploration of complex relationships between two men. The movie, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Jack Nicholson, received the Academy Award for Best Picture, and yet the story ends in an open-ended fashion, leaving the audience to deduce their own endings.
Much of the movie’s success is attributed to the way it allows the audience to make their own conclusions. By not explicitly explaining its characters’ motivations or outcomes, it allows for more analysis and audience participation than if it had simply laid out all the facts in black and white.
American Beauty is an Academy Award-winning movie from 1999 directed by Sam Mendes. It tells the story of a suburban family that is struggling to make it through the day-to-day life. The movie stars Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham, an unsatisfied and depressed office worker. The story follows Lester’s attempts to escape his mundane life, as well as his family’s attempts to deal with their own issues.
One of the main strengths of the movie is that it does not explicitly explain a lot of points in the story. Although the movie does explain Lester’s transformation throughout the movie, it does not explain the motivations of any other character in the movie. This is done intentionally, leaving the audience to make its own assumptions about the characters and the events.
This unique take allows the audience to be more engaged with the story, as each person in the audience will interpret the movie in their own way. By not explaining the story in black and white, American Beauty encourages viewers to think for themselves in order to come to conclusions about the events and characters in the movie.
Oscar-winning movies can take many forms, from traditional narrative-driven films to ambiguous genre-bending projects. The movies highlighted in this article – No Country for Old Men, The Departed, and American Beauty – illustrate how some of the most acclaimed movies tell stories without providing all the answers.
By maintaining a sense of ambiguity, these movies challenge their viewers to come up with their own interpretations, which often leads to more audience engagement and thoughtful discussions. So, the next time you come across a movie that leaves major questions unanswered, don’t dismiss it just yet – it might be worth a watch.