Staff Picks: Top Choices for the Coen Brothers

Coen Brothers Movies
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Top Choices for Coen Brothers Movies

 

Coen Brothers Movies

Barton Fink

Shawn S. Lealos Barton Fink – Yes, No Country For Old Men is a movie that I like better, but when it comes to the Coen Brothers, Barton Fink is the best “Coen Brothers Movie” when it comes to their style, if you know what I mean. The movie stars John Turturro in one of my favorite of his performances as a playwright who takes the money to go Hollywood and write a “wrestling picture.” Well, he knows nothing about wrestling and snubs his nose at movies in general, which makes his job harder than it should be. Add in the fact that the hotel the studio puts him up at has a person who might be a mass murderer in the room next to him (a fantastic John Goodman) and does not have a chance. This movie is just all kinds of brilliant and is a perfect “Coen Brothers Movie.”

Tony Beaulieu I agree with Shawn, Barton Fink is the most Coen Brothers-y Coen Brothers movie. I’m choosing it because of its cavalier structure and originality — the likes of which I haven’t seen before or since. This is one of those movies that changes the way you look at cinema. Not only does it defy any genre classification, it make generic categorization seem feeble and inadequate by comparison. I truly hope the Coens are just fucking with everyone when they talk about making a sequel to Barton Fink.

 

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The Big Lebowski

Derek Johns The Big Lebowski is not only my favorite Coen Brotheres movie but one of my favorite comedies period. Jeff Bridges and John Goodman make for a surprisingly good comedy team as the now practically iconic Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski and Walter Sobshak. There are also some very memorable supporting performances from Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro and of course Sam Elliot who rivals Morgan Freeman in his skills as an awesome narrator. The Coen Brothers at their finest.

 

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No Country for Old Men

Caliber Winfield No Country For Old Men – Sans a terrible ending, it’s a hell of a film. Anton Chigurh is one of the all time great antagonists, who will literally do any & everything to get what he wants. He’s like a machine. There is no bargaining, there is no reasoning, there is no mercy. It’s just a great story of a guy who gets in over his head, aims for a brass ring that’s beyond his reach, and unfortunately for him the walls come down around him.

Caleb MastersO Brother Where Art Thou” may be the most fun and most rewatchable, but I have to go with “No Country For Old Men” if for no other reason than because it leaves so many things up to question and debate that it is the movie I’m always talking about with the Coen Brothers.

The direction is impeccable, the acting is as good as it gets in Hollywood, and the story is so odd, unconventional, and open-ended that it leaves plenty of room for each viewer to bring their own interpretation to the story.

Javier Bardem’s assassin still makes for his best performance yet and his character may be one of the most unpredictable and engaging characters to hit theaters over the last 10 years. It’s smart, well put together, and features an excellent script based in what is arguably Cormac McCarthy’s greatest work.

John “D-Rock” Dotson I have great affection for many films from the Coens, especially The Big Lebowski and Burn After Reading. However, No Country for Old Men is one of those rare examples of a movie that had a perfect storm of all the right ingredients. No one could make this film as strange and thrilling unlike the Coen brothers. Given the right material provided by Cormac McCarthy and the direction of these two guys, something dark and magical just clicked. Not to mention, this is one of the few films that will keep you on edge without a score to guide you on how you should feel in the given situations. Not too many movies can accomplish this nowadays.

 

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Burn After Reading

Rick Tym My pick may be a little off the beaten path, but I absolutely loved Burn After Reading. The whole thing was a bit farcical but then again, what Coen Bros. film isn’t? Brad Pitt stands out in my mind as a hilariously clueless personal trainer who gets caught up in all sorts of supposedly top-secret shenanigans, but the entire cast — John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and the suave, smooth and here, just a little slimy George Clooney — brought their A-game to amp up the black hilarity of the film. I also like to think of Burn After Reading being a welcome respite for both the directors and their fans at the time of release after the grim but also wonderful No Country for Old Men.

 

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Blood Simple

Brandon Groppi BLOOD SIMPLE. . It’s their first film they made and it is brilliant. It takes it’s time setting up the characters and the tension. I recently saw it during one of my film classes and for their debut film it was awesome! I love the majority of the Coen Bros film (TRUE GRIT, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, BURN AFTER READING, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, etc.) But I’m going with their first film. BLOOD SIMPLE.

 

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Fargo

Eric Norcross Fargo for remarkable achievement in cinematography and the ability of the filmmakers to take their time in telling the story to ensure all the little quarks of the characters are present. I’m also fond of O Brother for technical reasons as this film ushered in the age of the full digital color grade which has completely replaced old-fashioned color timing. Other films I dig are Burn After Reading, True Grit, The Man Who Wasn’t There either for story, characters or pure aesthetics.

Jesse Blume This is another particularly difficult category for me to choose from, because the Coen brothers gave me a few of my favorite movies. I’ll be choosing Fargo to represent the category, even though I love No Country for Old Men and their remake of True Grit a bit more. The main reason that I’m doing so is because unlike those other two, Fargo is an original story. I’ve already written about Frances McDormand’s Oscar-winning role as Marge Gundersen for the site, but the rest of the cast performs excellently as well, and the story is truly unforgettable. It’s certainly dark and chilling, but truly funny throughout. It’s also one of the movies that my family quotes most often.

 

Coen Brothers Movies

Ruby Le Rouge Hard decision, I have kind of an affinity for wacky historical fiction, so going with the ones with the most rewatch value for me, I’d have to say Hudsucker Proxy and O’Brother, I love the Coen’s fast paced dialogue, a caricaturistic (<-is that even a word? O.o) view of the eras they are set in, and the stylized set designs and lighting make these two movies feel complete.

Their idiosyncratic writing style and dialogue is present in Fargo too, but it is actually one of my least favorite, though this may be due to the overwhelming hype that surrounded the movie when it came out, that I doubt any movie could have lived up to. I do maintain as movie memorabilia goes, the wood chipper scene would have made an awesome snow globe.

 

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About the Author

John "D-Rock" Dotson
is a film critic and film-maker from Dallas, Texas. He attended Midwestern State University where he received a Bachelor's in Business Administration in the field of Marketing. He's a huge lover of all things cinema... except The Last Airbender. Follow him on Twitter @DRockDot
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