40. A Serious Man (2009)
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Stars: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Sari Lennick, Fred Melamed, Aaron Wolff, Adam Arkin
To follow up their Academy Award-winning and brutally horrific 2007 gem No Country For Old Men, directors Joel and Ethan Coen did, naturally, something on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. At least visually.
That last caveat is necessary here because, for all intents and purposes, 2009's A Serious Man is just as bleak as No Country, except minus the bullet-holes and lethal bolt pistols. Michael Stuhlbarg (better known as Rothstein on HBO's Boardwalk Empire) plays a nebbish professor whose lives goes on a negative tailspin after his wife leaves for him a fat, hairy rube.
The impact of A Serious Man doesn't truly hit the viewer until moments after the end credits cease. Throughout the film, Stuhlbarg's character endures one setback after another, yet his descent into hopelessness only hits at what the movie drills home in its haunting final shot: God, if he does exist up there, has no time for man's redemption. He does, however, have time to get in the last laugh.