Directors Joel and Ethan Coen seem to have one big encompassing theme, and nihilism is it. I think. But who can be sure? All of their movies seem to suggest, either subtly or loudly, either that there is no God or that God is laughing at us all like a child would laugh at ants after their anthill is chopped over with the lawnmower.
In A Serious Man, the central character is presumably the descendent of an Eastern European Jewish family that is (perhaps) cursed to experience life as a perplexing stream of misfortune. Whether the curse is real or not, and whether God is real or not, one thing's for sure: nobody knows what's going on, from the kids all the way up to the wisest old Rabbi. For us who are watching the film, it all seems darkly funny, and there was audible laughing in the auditorium.
Unlike No Country For Old Men, this film suffers from a sleepy look and a sleepy pace. On one level we can understand why it's nominated for Best Picture, but on another level--the one where our opinions really count!--it doesn't stand a chance of winning against this year's competition.