Cannes: Tommy Lee Jones

American awards-showering bodies have so far overlooked “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” the darkly comic, exquisitely shot, modern Western morality tale starring and directed by Tommy Lee Jones.
But the French, as they often do before us, got it back in May, when Jones won the best actor prize and Mexican writer Guillermo Arriaga (“21 Grams”) took screenplay honors at the Cannes Film Festival.

Jones, who plays a Texas ranch foreman determined to return his illegal best friend’s corpse to his south-of-the-border homeland, says that he not only got to direct himself to an award-winning performance, but helped create his character from scratch.
“I knew the role very well before we started shooting because I’d spent two years creating it with Arriaga,” the “Fugitive” Oscar-winner says. “Sometimes actors get two weeks to prepare a role, sometimes a month. So it was a real advantage for me to have two years.”
An Acadeny Awards-qualifying run of “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” plays at the ArcLight Hollywood and Pacific’s Galleria Stadium 16 in Sherman Oaks through Tuesday, December 20.


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