Release date: Oct. 2

Distrib: Focus

The Coen brothers’ 2007 multiple Oscar winner “No Country for Old Men” gave the sharp cinema-savvy ironists their first major Academy wins. While “A Serious Man” is widely considered a lesser exercise in nihilism, the film continues to display the Coens’ total mastery of the medium. Combining the absurdly comic with the heady and profound, the smart screenplay could draw a nomination. The Coens’ ace collaborators could also get attention, from eight-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins for his skillfully composed evocation of ’60s Minnesota to art director Deborah Jensen for her finely etched suburban settings. “A Serious Man” has been a hit with many critics, some of whom have singled out leading man Michael Stuhlbarg in his breakout major-film debut. But the performance — like the movie itself — lacks the sort of balmy emotional heat associated with the Academy. Then again, like Hashem, Oscar often defies reason.

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