Gritty, low-budget, sometimes silly narcocinema has been active south of the border since the '70s — for a solid treatment of the form, see Vice's mini-doc from 2013.
But in the last decade, the violence, corruption and absurdity of the War on Drugs has seen an upswing of creativity and big budget attention, from award-guaranteed projects like Sicario to flop-house material like Arnold Schwarzenegger's shoot-'em-up border flicks in 2013 and 2014.
The Coen brothers' adaptation of Cormac McCarthy touched most gracefully on a foundational trope of narcocinema and an unfortunate truth for cartel victims — no matter your level of capability, there's always an even nastier hitman willing to make a dollar. With a dead-eyed leer and an unfortunate haircut, Javier Bardem played that bigger, badder fish to perfection, earning him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.