The Coen Brothers Abide

(Comedy, Drama, Cult) Permanent link

When talking about directors who consistently make provocative, intellectually-inspired films that are commercially successful while not slighting of the audience’s acumen, the conversation must include the films of the Coen brothers (Joel and Ethan). Known for their genre bending, dark comedies, the Coen’s have made some of the most memorable films of the past two decades, including the adapted No Country for Old Men, which won Best Picture in 2007, Fargo (1996), Raising Arizona (1987), Miller’s Crossing (1990), and the cult masterpiece, The Big Lebowski (1998). There have been a couple of missteps along the way (Intolerable Cruelty and The Lady Killers) but for the most part, their unique vision of human destiny embodies a distinctive mixture of gallows humor, richly drawn characters, and absurd circumstances that often pit their protagonist against both the quirks of chance and the poorly conceived decisions of individuals. While I wouldn’t characterize their newest film A Serious Man as one of their best movies, it remains as one of last year’s better films that will likely satisfy the devotee. What do you get when you engage a Coen Brothers film? A little bit of crime fiction, a dash of film noir, a teaspoon of odd ball comedy, a bag of literary and film allusions, topped off with a pinch of both real and implied violence thrown in. Of their 14 full length films, the following selection is arguably their most important.

No Country for Old Men (adapted from a Cormac McCarthy novel)


Miller’s Crossing

Barton Fink

The Big Lebowski

Raising Arizona


big lebowski

Posted by Ryan Gage at 04/22/2010 10:43:11 AM | 

Add "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and the short list is complete. A bit more theatrical and hysterical, but very well constructed.
Posted by: Lisa W ( Email ) at 4/29/2010 11:07 AM

Ryan, you're spot on, except for the omission of "O Brother" which really deserves a place on the list, if only for the soundtrack and/or cinematography alone. Also, hanging just off the bottom of the list would be The Hudsucker Proxy, which is a totally underrated film.
Posted by: Stewart ( Email ) at 4/30/2010 12:39 PM

Times like these call for a Big Lebowski.
Posted by: Erik Jensen ( Email ) at 5/9/2010 6:25 PM

Hi Ryan I agree with Stewart on this one The Hudsucker Proxy is definetly underrated and has been totally overlooked, Jennifer Jason Leigh is just amazing in this film. The Big Lebowski is pure genious and no country for old men is amazing, Javier Bardem gives an incredible performance and the cinematography is something else. "Don't put it in your pocket, sir. Don't put it in your pocket. It's your lucky quarter."
Posted by: Mark ( Email ) at 6/1/2010 4:42 PM

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