The Coen brothers' latest film, Hail Caesar! is out on DVD this week. I really loved this movie (you can see my Hail Caesar! review here). It feels like an instant classic - a film that I will watch again and again (and probably again).
However, I often feel this way about Coen brothers' films. I am never done with them and, with every viewing, discover something new.
As a result, I decided to rank my top ten favourite Coen brothers' movies. However, as it turns out, this is no easy task. (I have been editing and re-editing this list for hours!)
I don't think that I will ever be completely satisfied with the ranking of these movies. Nonetheless, here are my top ten best Coen brothers' films.
Let me know what you think!
10. Inside Llewyn Davies
Inside Llewyn Davis tells the story of a folk singer at the crossroads of his career. He is struggling to make it as a musician against significant odds (many are of his own making) in a tough and wintry New York.
Featuring a stunning performance from Oscar Isaac, I really enjoyed Inside Llewyn Davis. It is very funny (thanks to some brilliantly eccentric characters - John Goodman is superb) and also has a deeply melancholic atmosphere.
Oh and the soundtrack is wonderful!
9. True Grit
After the cold-blooded murder of her father, fourteen year old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) decides to hire a US Marshal to track down his killer - the coward Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin).
She enlists the help of drunken Marshal, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), and, despite his objections, joins him in a dangerous manhunt through Indian territory.
I'd heard some grumbling about the Coen brothers' True Grit. Most of it from fans of the John Wayne original. However, I was happy to enjoy the film on its own merits and was thoroughly entertained.
True Grit is full of tension and is really very funny (if you can decipher the Jeff Bridges growl!). Also in a film full of wonderful performances, Hailee Steinfeld is just superb. Certainly a young actress to watch.
8. Hail Caesar!
Hail Caesar! is the Coen brothers' loving homage to Hollywood's Golden age.
It is another film that has proved divisive among audiences. However, I loved the movie's 'film inside a film' style - with all of its comedy and nostalgia.
In a film (again) full of superb performances, Alden Ehrenreich’s portrayal of Western actor, Hobie Doyle, stands out. No wonder then that, shortly after Hail Caesar!'s release, it was announced that Ehrenreich had been cast as the young Han Solo.
7. The Big Lebowski
Comedy thriller, The Big Lebowski, has deservedly become a cult classic. Featuring a
career defining performance from Jeff 'The Dude' Bridges, the film tells a story of bowling, mistaken identity and a stolen rug. Sheer genius.
6. A Serious Man
A Serious Man is a superb film that explores many complex issues - including faith, family and mortality - while maintaining a brilliant balance of comedy and darkness.
Larry Gopnik (the wonderful Michael Stuhlbarg) is a physics professor at a Midwestern university. He is struggling with both marital problems - his wife Judith (Sari Lennick) is leaving him - and professional challenges.
He has tried to do the right thing in life and be a serious man but nothing is working out the way he planned. He desperately needs help and seeks advice from three different rabbis. Can anyone save him?
5. Miller's Crossing
Featuring an iconic shot of a black hat blowing through a forest, Miller's Crossing is a brilliant film where (as is often the case in the Coen brothers' universe) nothing is what it at first seems to be.
Miller's Crossing is a dark and violent film that has been stripped down to the bare essentials of wonderful cinematic storytelling.
4. Barton Fink
Barton Fink is a phenomenal movie - full of humour and symbolism, imagery and darkness.
John Turturro stars as Fink, a New York playwright who is enticed to move to California and write for the movies. However, the move soon becomes hellish as he struggles in Hollywood and encounters a nightmarish case of writer's block.
2. No Country For Old Men
When a man stumbles on a bloody crime scene, a pickup truck loaded with heroin and two million dollars in cash, his decision to take the money sets off an unstoppable chain reaction of violence.
Based on Cormac McCarthy's novel, No Country For Old Men is a stunning film featuring truly powerful performances.
The film won the 2008 Oscar for best picture and netted the Coens the year's best director Academy Award. It should also have (in my humble opinion) won Roger Deakins the Oscar for best cinematography. Every scene is truly gorgeous.
A wonderful, wonderful film. Has a coin toss ever been so threatening?
My favourite Coen brothers' film is, of course, Fargo.
I can't believe that it has been twenty years since this classic movie was released. Having watched it a couple of times in recent months, I can confirm that it has certainly aged well.
Fargo is, for me, an example of a perfect film. Perfect story, script, casting, location
and, of course, perfect marketing. Who can resist a smile when reading the film's claim that the events are based on a true story?
However, the main reason why I love Fargo is Marge Gunderson. Frances McDormand is superb in this role and she won a well-deserved Oscar for her performance. It may be 30 minutes before Marge arrives, but she is well worth waiting for.
What Is Your Favourite Coen Brothers' Film?
What do you think of this list? Do I have the films in the correct order? Have I missed out your favourite?
Let me know - you can leave me a comment in the box below!