List compiled by Eddie on 23/08/2013
With what looks like another hit on their hands both critically and commercially with the upcoming awards contender Inside Llewyn Davis it seems like a fitting time to pick my personal top 10 favourite Coen Brother films.
Joel and Ethan Coen have ever so slowly created a divisive and original filmography that has now spanned almost 30 years. Well known for their dark sense of humour, fantastic whip smart scripts and a playfulness with character names (Pete Hogwallop, Theodore Donald Kerabatsos, Gaear Grimsrud just to name a few) The Coen’s have made themselves true visionaries of the film making world.
With a wide variety of films tackled by the Brothers it makes picking a personal best of list tricky business. I can find no space for the criminally overrated Fargo in my Top 10 where as I am sure many would have it sitting proudly at number 1. I could defend my position on this film and other list absentees until the cows come home so without further ado I proudly present you valued readers out there my Top 10 Coen Brother films.
10. Raising Arizona (1987)
The Coen Brothers second film introduced the world to their mad sense of dark humour. Featuring a crazed performance by Nicolas Cage as baby kidnapper H.I McDunnough, Arizona is sure to provide the laughs and acts as a good introduction for Coen Brother newbies.
9. The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
One of the big critical and commercial failures of the Coen’s career upon release Proxy is a true joy of a film and a hidden gem in the Coen Brother filmography. Whimsical and heartfelt Proxy is worth watching for the Hula Hoop scene alone.
8. A Serious Man (2009)
A Serious Man is a very polarising film. Some see it as a modern day retailing of the Bible story of Job where others may see it as a very dark comedy. A Serious Man is unlike anything you’ve seen before and features a career making performance from Michael Stuhlbarg.
7. True Grit (2010)
The second remake by the brothers and a much better one than there previous attempt in The Ladykillers, True Grit centres around the too wise for her boots Mattie Ross who is fantastically played by Hailee Steinfeld. This particular Coen film gathered 10 Oscar nominations and is a worthy entry into the great Western films list.
6. Barton Fink (1991)
Taking place almost entirely inside a run-down hotel Barton Fink is another film that upon initial release perhaps didn’t receive the recognition it deserved. Full of mysteries (who or what exactly is John Goodman’s Charlie Meadows?) and a rare leading turn from regular collaborator John Turturro as tortured writer Fink, this is a movie well worth checking into.
5. The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
You would of expected the Coen’s to follow up there critical and commercial success O Brother Where Art Thou with another crowd pleaser, they did the opposite. A film shot in black and white and centred on murder and mysteries in a small American town couldn’t be more abstract if it tried. Noteworthy for featuring both an early career turn from Scarlett Johansson and a very memorable ending.
4. Blood Simple (1984)
The beginning of the Brothers starts here with this low budget, dialogue ridden crime noir. Blood Simple has all the well-known hallmarks of the Brothers later works and stands up to this day as a testament to their originality and what can be done with brains and a low budget.
3. O Brother Where Art Thou (2000)
If you haven’t as of yet partaken on this adventure with the Soggy Bottom Boys get out there now and chase down a copy. More so than Fargo, O Brother made the Coen’s house hold names and turned leading man Clooney into a solidified movie star not just a TV heartthrob. With its great mix of humour, story and music it’s no wonder O Brother acts as arguably the Brothers most loved and easy to watch film.
2. No Country for Old Men (2007)
Adapted from master word smith Cormac McCarthy’s book of the same name No Country was a major success for the Brothers winning them a long overdue Best Director’s statue at the Academy Awards and best Picture to boot. A highly realistic and violent trip into the criminal world No Country is not for the faint of heart but for lovers of good film everywhere. Noteworthy for Javier Bardem’s creepily good turn as villain Anton Chigurh along with perhaps the worst haircut in film history.
1. The Big Lebowski (1998)
Like The Dude, The Big Lebowski till this day abides. One of Cinemas all-time funniest movies is remembered as fondly as ever thanks to the complete zaniness of the story, the fantastic script and the delivery of the actors in Jeff Bridges (as the movie he will always be remembered for) and John Goodman as crazed Vietnam vet Walter Sobchak. A classic for the ages, Lebowski only gets better on re-watch after re-watch and will perhaps remain the Coen’s greatest ever achievement.
How does this list stack up to your favorites? Let us know in the comments below and while you’re at it check out our other Director Top 10 list’s –