Ranking The Coen Brothers: 2012 edition

Looking through some of my old posts, this one stuck out to me because it included definitive grades of films that I have seen and now feel differently about.  I also have a few films to add to the list so it seemed like a great time to update my Ranking list.  If I have changed my grade since my original post I will include my reasoning and the original grade next to it.  You can view my original list here – Link

Disclaimer: I am a huge Coen Brothers fan so determining the order of this list was fairly easy for me since I own all of the movies (except for No Country For Old Men), and have watched them all several times.

I think that Joel and Ethan are two of the best directors of our time. Noted for their dark humor, memorable characters, and wonderful cinematography, their quirky films have embedded themselves into modern pop culture.

A few examples of this footprint:

  • The wood chipper scene from “Fargo”
  • The Soundtrack from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (it was the 2001 Grammy winner for album of the year)
  • The Dude (Jeff Bridges character from The Big Lebowski) is referenced by 20 something guys on a daily basis

If you are just introducing yourself to the Coens, this list will make for a great reference point so that you don’t dive in head first and break your neck (by putting in Barton Fink as your first exposure).About the Picks: #1-5 are must see movies(must own if you really want to get technical), #6-12 are movies that you should barrow, or watch on tv sometime, they are borderline owns, #13-15 are the watch when you absolutely have nothing better to do.

  1. Fargo – A ( I still believe this to be their best film, and easily could have netted them the Oscar in 1996)
  2. No Country For Old Men – A (I have been back and fourth with this film and Fargo as to which I like more. In the end Fargo gets the nod because it has had a longer time to win me over)
  3. A Simple Man – A-  (This movie will probably stir up the most debate but to me it was classic Coen Brothers and one hell of a thick watch.  The final scene had my head spinning)
  4. Blood Simple – B+ ( Their first movie, still is one of their best)
  5. The Big Lebowski – B+ (Such a dark comedy, I remember seeing it for the first time and being baffled in the strangeness.)
  6. Burn After Reading – B+    (Brilliantly acted by a great cast, this movie seems to be a miss for some.  I think it is dark, dark funny. “I’m not set up to mold rubber”
  7. O Brother, Where Art Thou? – B (this movie hasn’t stuck with me like is has for others. Still a great spin on the Odyssey.)
  8. Millers Crossing – B  (The biggest jump is this movie (C) , I really underappreciated all of the Coen tones dripping from this film. Watched it with a more open mind and loved it)
  9. Barton Fink – B- (John Turturro did a great job in this film, a little more quirky than some of their later work)
  10. The Man Who Wasn’t There – B-  (I bumped this film up a half grade because I love it but still can’t get over the spaceship scene)
  11. The Hudsucker Proxy – C (you know, for the kids. Goofy, fun movie.)
  12. True Grit – C  (I wanted to love this film as it had a lot of the ingredients of a great film but felt it was slow and the humor was too sparingly used so it ended up with a strange tone)
  13. Raising Arizona – C- (another movie that hasn’t really hit home for me. Has some funny scenes but just a little drab)
  14. Intolerable Cruelty – C- (Cathrine Zeta Jones is stunning, and George Clooney plays a dolt much like in O Brother. I watched them film part of this movie when I was in Vegas some years ago.
  15. The Ladykillers – D ( I really wanted this movie to be better. I had seen the original, and I love Tom Hanks. The Hip Hop element detracted from the movie.)

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