By far, Coen Brothers might always be associated to the most prominent and original brother directors in Hollywood. Ripping film industry apart since 1984, the siblings, Joel and Ethan, have been nominated for 14 Oscars and won 4 of them so far. From comedy to Western, from thriller to neo-noir, there’s barely a discord in their filmography. In honor of their reputable career (and in conjunction with my recent Hail, Caesar! post), Sinek-Talk presents TOP 7 films of Coen Brothers!
P.S.: I could only pick 7. Honorable mentions: Other Coen Brothers’ films aside of this top 7.
07. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
The most adventurous tale from the brothers finds trio—George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson as three chain-gang runaway delve into a journey that mixes up fairy tale, caper, and musical. This multi-genre amalgam strikes up with likable characters spread along the journey and calm visuals characterized with sepia shades everywhere. The plot is traditionally—by Coen Brothers’ standard—convoluted and messy, but it defines the siblings’ tendency to genre-bending realm.
06. A Serious Man (2009)
This is a quintessence of Coen Brothers’ troubled-by-fate protagonist (a feature which always appears in almost every Coen Brothers’ films). Michael Stuhlbarg is the serious man—a pure Jew and a physics professor. His live has never been a manageable one as his wife is demanding a Jewish divorce while he himself falls into a ‘Jewish’ anguish. The movie is very Jewish without alienating non-Jewish viewers, but it’s basically everyone’s problem cynically written up by the brothers.
Special mentions to the opening scene, which… has nothing to do with anything.
05. The Big Lebowski (1998)
Been missing it until a year ago, I found The Big Lebowski as Coen Brothers’ most hilarious, ludicrous, and absurd comedy. Rich of ‘likable’ characters led by The Dude (Jeff Bridges) and his two comrades, Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi), as well as deadpan humors, this pseudo-detective film is full of layers.
04. Hail, Caesar! (2016)
Coen Brothers’ latest outing is a film which really defines what a Coen Brothers’ film should be – clever and absurd at the same time. This star-studded period piece is a the brothers’ love-letter to the Golden Era of Hollywood. It’s never been a homage but rather a pseudo-documentary with tons of deadpan humors and historical references.
03. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
A traditional troubled-by-fate protagonist, Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a folk singer in a scene. What separates Llewyn Davis from other Coen Brothers’ creation is the fact that he’s the finest asshole. As troubled as Barton Fink and Larry Gupnik in A Serious Man, but his root of asshol-ism lies deep within him. Surprisingly, this film gives a sympathetic approach to a phase in the titular character’s life, which keeps coming around. His artmanship is his nature; and his nature is his demise.
02. No Country for Old Men (2007)
Alienating itself from other Coen Brothers’ works, No Country for Old Men is a definition of modern cult film. Lacks of the brothers’ gleeful tones and genre-bending realms, it is a silent, brutal, and traumatic piece of art. Faithful to Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same title, this film never lacks of stylish treatment—although it is in a completely different universe. Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones’ solid performance might never be forgotten, but Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh might never die.
01. Fargo (1996)
Fargo is a classy and classic. It has evolved from a single movie to a cinematic universe—in which FX’s series and some other films might take references. It’s a universe where all evil intentions and folly blend into one atmosphere. It’s a black comedy at its finest which features the best ensemble of exhilarating characters on screen. There’s no other films like Fargo.