#22. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford : Before I go on, I must start off by saying that this is a very long movie; as in nearly three (2:40) hours long. That said, its a pitch perfect portrayal of one of America’s most notorious criminals, and the man that murdered him. One more thing, my assessment of this movie may be a bit skewed. I’m biased towards anything with Mary Louise Parker in it and I love Westerns so these two aspects give the movie an implicit bump in ratings.
Nevertheless, here we find Brad Pitt playing what many believe to be one of the most accurate portrayals of James. One of the things I love the most about the film is that it goes to great lengths to explore the cult of personality that was Jesse James. After all, there were no movie stars in those days. Train robbers were about as close as you would get to celebrity status. And of course, like Britney Spears today, James had his own obsessed fans; enter in Robert Ford. Casey Affleck — who we can all agree is a much better actor than his brother Ben — plays the role of a lifetime as the star-struck Ford. Hell bent on becoming a member of James’ gang, he forges a friendship with James that ultimately turns sour.
What really stands out though is the cinematography. Set during the time of reconstruction, the camera follows James as he wanders through the heartland of America depicting beautiful landscapes, dark nights, and amber waves of grain that go on as far as the eye can see. If you don’t mind the length and you’re partial to Westerns this is a must see.