Every Coen brothers movie, ranked

Bearded bowlers. A pregnant police chief. A serial killer with a bowl minimize and a cattle gun.

Since they burst onto the film scene over 35 years in the past with Blood Easy, Joel and Ethan Coen have been answerable for among the most iconic characters within the historical past of cinema.

There aren’t many administrators on the market who commonly pop up on the prime of the field workplace charts regardless of making motion pictures that do not actually conform to Hollywood traditions, however the author/director staff often called the Coen brothers have managed to carve out a mode that is as in style as it’s distinctive — suppose recurring actors like Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, and John Goodman; frequent bouts of blackmail and bungled kidnapping; a love of sure genres like noir and western; and a intelligent intertwining of comedy and drama that continually retains viewers on their toes.

However how does their in depth record of flicks examine with each other? That are the very best of the very best?

As difficult as the duty proved (and leaving out the flicks they wrote however did not additionally direct), we have achieved our greatest to rank each single Coen brothers film beneath.

The place will classics like The Huge Lebowski and Fargo land? Is there no victory for No Nation for Previous Males? How about Insupportable Cruelty? (Yep, that is a Coen brothers movie.) Oh, and we have additionally included The Tragedy of Macbeth, Joel Coen’s new film, regardless that Ethan did not co-direct and it is due to this fact technically extra of a Coen brother film (shut the f*ck up, Donny).

19. The Ladykillers

Tom Hanks and Marlon Wayans in

Credit score: Touchstone / Kobal / Shutterstock

I’m not gonna sugarcoat it: This simply will be the Coen brothers’ worst movie. To be truthful, it has some large sneakers to fill after the 1955 unique. You’d suppose the Coen brothers would simply be capable of do it with an all-star forged composed of Tom Hanks, Irma P. Corridor, Marlon Wayans, J.Ok. Simmons, and Stephen Root, however that is the place they struck out. Although there’s hilarious character work constant within the Coens’ work, it’s cartoon-y and ungrounded, the on-screen chemistry by no means fairly clicks, and Hanks’ accent feels extra like a Foghorn Leghorn impression than an natural selection. 

The film begins with Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr, a classics “professor” performed by Hanks, renting a room from a non secular aged widow, Marva Munson, performed by Irma P. Corridor. We shortly discover out, nonetheless, that he intends to make use of Marva’s home as a base for his ragtag band of criminals to execute a on line casino vault heist. Hijinks ensue as stupidity and greed digs them into deeper and deeper hassle. For those who’re searching for a foolish heist movie, The Ladykillers is a enjoyable one so long as you go in with life like expectations. It’s not a nasty film, it’s only a dangerous Coen brothers film. — Mark Stetson, Producer

The right way to watch: The Ladykillers is accessible to hire or purchase on Prime Video.

18. Insupportable Cruelty

George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones standing against a wall in

Credit score: Moviestore / Shutterstock

It won’t have fairly the identical edge or originality as different motion pictures additional down this record, however make no mistake: Insupportable Cruelty continues to be lots of enjoyable. Pitting sly divorce legal professional Miles Massey (George Clooney) towards equally devious divorcée Marilyn Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), the film is basically a twisty-turny battle of wits that performs out in dramatic courtrooms and tense boardrooms. Everyone is at all times one step forward of one another, it is inconceivable to guess who’s truly forward, and there are many moments you virtually definitely will not see coming. A very good one to observe in the event you simply need one thing mild. — S.H.

The right way to watch: Insupportable Cruelty is accessible to stream on Prime Video.

17. Elevating Arizona

Nicolas Cage in

Credit score: Melinda Sue Gordon / twentieth Century Fox / Kobal / Shutterstock

All the weather are there. Following an ex-con (Nicolas Cage) on a mission to offer his spouse a child in any respect prices, the Coens’ second ever film comes with bumbling criminals, a wacky plot centred round a kidnapping, an ominous bounty hunter, and plenty of different tropes that they’ve since turn out to be identified for. The issue, at the least for me, was that these parts did not come collectively anyplace close to in addition to they do in another Coen brothers motion pictures — the characters weren’t fairly as nicely developed, the story wasn’t as enjoyable, and general I simply did not discover myself remembering scenes and quotes in the best way I’ve with the duo’s higher movies. On this method Elevating Arizona felt like a coaching floor for concepts that will be higher executed afterward — an early try at themes which are polished up in motion pictures like The Huge Lebowski. — Sam Haysom, Deputy UK Editor

The right way to watch: Elevating Arizona is accessible to stream on Prime Video.

16. The Man Who Wasn’t There

Billy Bob Thornton and Frances McDormand in

Credit score: Working Title / Kobal / Shutterstock

This genre-flipping movie noir had a lot potential but finally falls wanting being an ideal Coen brothers film. It nails just about each noir trope however doesn’t do a lot to raise the style, which is one thing the Coens normally do extremely nicely. Nonetheless, one factor you’ll be able to’t deny is that that is certainly one of, if not essentially the most, superbly shot of the duo’s motion pictures. Filmed totally in black and white, this homage to traditional noir showcases the otherworldly expertise of the Coens’ longtime cinematographer, Roger Deakins.

The movie follows barber Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton), a person not precisely completely satisfied together with his state of affairs. His spouse Doris (Frances McDormand) is a hard-drinking, division retailer bookkeeper, and Ed begrudgingly works for her brother, Frank (Michael Badalucco), whereas she’s having an affair along with her wealthy boss, Huge Dave Brewster (James Gandolfini). When a conman convinces Ed to put money into a get-rich-quick scheme, he decides to blackmail Huge Dave Brewster for the money. Throw in Tony Shalhoub, Richard Jenkins, Jon Polito, and a younger Scarlett Johansson and also you’ve received an all-star forged that shines on this very-good-but-not-great movie noir that ends, like most Coen movies, in a bizarre but satisfyingly surprising place. — M.S.

The right way to watch: The Man Who Wasn’t There may be out there to hire or purchase on Prime Video.

15. Hail, Caesar!

Scarlett Johansson in

Credit score: Alison Cohen Rosa / Common/Working Title / Kobal/Shutterstock

A movie about making a movie in Fifties Hollywood, Hail, Caesar! brings collectively a ridiculously star-studded forged for this foolish costumed romp. The story sees film star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) getting kidnapped by a bunch of communist screenwriters whereas fixer Eddie Manx (Josh Brolin) scrambles to pay the ransom for the studio. In the meantime, gossip columnists Thora and Thessaly Thacker (each performed by Tilda Swinton) circle searching for a narrative. The entire thing is as wild because it sounds, however I can not assist however really feel (as we’ll see additional down the record) that the Coens have made a greater movie about movie-making… — S.H.

The right way to watch: Hail, Caesar! is accessible to hire or purchase on Prime Video.

14. A Severe Man

Michael Stuhlbarg in

Credit score: Moviestore / Shutterstock

Most of the Coen brothers’ motion pictures experience their very own obliqueness and complexity, however A Severe Man takes issues to a complete different stage. The film follows the assorted misfortunes of Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), a Jewish educational in Sixties Minnesota whose spouse needs a divorce whereas he is struggling to make tenure within the wake of a sequence of nameless letters aiming to discredit him. Sadly for Gopnik issues go from dangerous to worse, and when he turns to his religion for assist the assorted rabbis he consults with appear unable to supply constructive recommendation. On condition that A Severe Man explores the seek for that means in an typically chaotic and unforgiving universe, it is smart that this one could be considerably chaotic in and of itself — however the bleakness (and deliberate vagueness) additionally make it tougher to get pleasure from than some. — S.H.

The right way to watch: A Severe Man is accessible to hire or purchase on Prime Video.

13. True Grit

Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld in

Credit score: Skydance Productions / Kobal / Shutterstock

A heavy-drinking Jeff Bridges takes to the saddle as Deputy U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn on this western, employed by younger Mattie (Hailee Steinfeld) to chase down the outlaw (Josh Brolin) who killed her father. True Grit is predicated on the 1969 John Wayne movie, which was an adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel of the identical title. Roger Deakins’ ever-poster-worthy cinematography is on full show on this one, and Matt Damon will get a enjoyable flip because the awkward Texas ranger LaBoeuf. Bridges is on prime kind as at all times, in the meantime, and Steinfeld is great because the no-nonsense 14-year-old making an attempt to maintain them each in verify. So why doesn’t this one make it increased on the record? Effectively, the difficult factor for True Grit is that as a western, you routinely examine it with the Coens’ different westerns — and as we’ll see afterward, it’s simply not fairly as memorable as some. — S.H.

The right way to watch: True Grit is accessible to hire or purchase on Prime Video or stream on NOW TV within the UK.

12. Burn After Studying

Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand in

Credit score: Working Title / Studio Canal / Kobal / Shutterstock

You have to sustain in Burn After Studying, a film that mixes some severe star-power with the Coens’ trademark black comedy and an impressively convoluted plot. The story revolves round — deep breath — two less-than-genius gymnasium trainers (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand) who try and blackmail a former CIA agent (John Malkovich) whose spouse (Tilda Swinton) occurs to be having an affair with a paranoid U.S. Marshal (George Clooney) who can be seeing one of many gymnasium trainers (McDormand) concurrently he is seeing the agent’s spouse. Yep, there’s lots occurring. The film would not take itself too severely although, there are some genuinely amusing and surprising moments, and in at this time’s age of disinformation it feels extra related than ever. The one draw back is it typically feels virtually too meta, with the degrees of parody and convolution often tripping over themselves. — S.H.

The right way to watch: Burn After Studying is accessible to hire or purchase on Prime Video.

11. The Tragedy of Macbeth

Denzel Washington in

Credit score: Alison Cohen Rosa

So, this one technically is not a Coen bros film; it is a Coen bro film. With Ethan having stepped away from filmmaking, Joel tailored this Shakespearean traditional on his personal, impressed by the onstage efficiency of his personal spouse as Girl Macbeth. 4-time Academy Award-winner Frances McDormand reprised the position of the ruthless villainess, who infamously urged her husband towards treasonous homicide within the quest for the crown. Assembly McDormand at her lofty stage of excellence is two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington, taking over the titular position with rigor. Backed by an impeccable ensemble, this dynamic duo devastates, whether or not whispering schemes, touching in tenderness, or delivering really iconic strains. 

Joel offers this centuries-old story a brand new imaginative and prescient, using settings which have a pronounced artifice that blurs the visible expectations between display screen and stage. Surreal imagery across the witches urges audiences onto the slippery slope of this descent into homicide, insanity, and doom. The ultimate contact is cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel’s black and white cinematography. Mid-contrast and keenly targeted, it captures these fashionable stars’ exact performances as immediately timeless. Nonetheless, for all its virtues, it is probably not a Coen Bros film. So… — Kristy Puchko, Deputy Leisure Editor

The right way to watch: The Tragedy of Macbeth hits theatres Dec. 25 2021, and will likely be out there to stream after on Apple+.


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10. O Brother, The place Artwork Thou?

John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, and George Clooney in

Credit score: Touchstone / Common / Kobal / Shutterstock

Would some folks put this one increased up on the record? Completely. Loosely primarily based on Homer’s The Odyssey, O Brother, The place Artwork Thou? is a traditional Coen mish-mash of utmost silliness, following Everett (George Clooney), Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson), and Pete (John Turturro), three escaped convicts on the hunt for buried treasure. There’s lots to like about this one and its intelligent satirisation of the American South, however for some motive it simply hasn’t caught in my reminiscence in the identical method that the Coens’ different cult favourites have. Possibly it is simply that little bit too foolish? Maybe there’s not sufficient darkness in there to distinction with the comedy? It is troublesome to pinpoint, and it is definitely not the popular opinion — however in my thoughts it could possibly’t compete with among the Coens’ grittier works. — S.H.

The right way to watch: O Brother, The place Artwork Thou? is accessible to stream on AMC+ or hire/purchase on Prime Video.

9. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Tom Waits in

Yep, that is Tom Waits.
Credit score: Netflix

The Coens return to their love of westerns with this six-in-one anthology, an American frontier quick story assortment magicked to life in a single film. The 20-or-so-minute movies cowl a variety of characters struggling to make their method within the unforgiving Wild West, from the ageing gold prospector (Tom Waits) toiling in a sun-streaked valley to the current widow (Zoe Kazan) navigating marriage proposals and a tiny barking canine on a wagon prepare.

Admittedly not everybody sitting down to observe a film will likely be a fan of the six-in-one construction, and among the tales are stronger than others — however there is a vastly entertaining selection on provide and the overarching themes (the chaotic, unpredictable nature of life; the harshness of the world and people in it) tie the entire thing properly collectively whereas nonetheless feeling related at this time. — S.H.

The right way to watch: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is accessible to stream on Netflix.

8. Blood Easy

Frances McDormand in

A younger Frances McDormand in her first film position.
Credit score: River Street Prods / Kobal / Shutterstock

For his or her first function movie, the Coens began as they meant to go on: with a messy neo-noir crime thriller stuffed with affairs, id mix-ups, and one very unorthodox (and memorable) little bit of physique disposal. Starring Coens-regular Frances McDormand in her breakout position, Blood Easy follows bartender Ray (John Getz) as he makes an attempt to navigate the lower than perfect state of affairs of the affair he is having together with his boss’ spouse. What follows is a chaotic jumble of jealousy, suspicion, and one very shady personal detective ready to go to some pretty excessive lengths to get what he needs.

There are many early Coen brothers tropes in proof right here, and regardless that this one will not be fairly as polished as a few of their later work, it is nonetheless extremely achieved and entertaining (particularly for a primary function). — S.H.

The right way to watch: Blood Easy is accessible to hire or purchase on Prime Video.

7. The Hudsucker Proxy

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tim Robbins in

Credit score: Polygram / Warners / Silver / Kobal / Shutterstock

A field workplace bomb that was met with combined critiques, this jaunty 1994 comedy is usually thought of mid-tier Coen bros at greatest. However it deserves a lot better. In a script penned by Joel and Ethan Coen, and Sam Raimi, The Hudsucker Proxy pays tribute to the screwball comedies of Hollywood’s Golden Age with a daffy story of a corny stooge and company sabotage. Tim Robbins stars as Norville Barnes, a small-town American businessman who has come to the Huge Apple with big-city ambitions. So, when happenstance — and a surly, cigar-chomping govt (Paul Newman) — fingers him the reigns of Hudsucker Industries, he’d be a idiot to not take it, proper? However fast-talking dame/hardheaded information reporter Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) smells a rat. So, she goes undercover as a secretary to discover a scoop…and finally ends up falling for the rube. However can this odd couple outwit and outlast the fiendish heads of company America?

Radiating with vitality, popping with pratfalls, and snapping with quips, this broad comedy is so candy it might rot your tooth. Nonetheless, in a nod to their love for noir, the Coens’ winsome romance provides spice with blackmail, betrayal, jealously, and dying. The collision of content material and tone may be dizzying, however a crackerjack forged — that additionally boasts Charles Durning, Steve Buscemi, Invoice Cobbs, and Bruce Campbell — brings loads of zing to zip previous the tough edges. — Ok.P.

The right way to watch: The Hudsucker Proxy is accessible to hire or purchase on Prime Video.

6. Barton Fink

John Turturro in

It is exhausting to write down a screenplay with noisy neighbors.
Credit score: Circle / Kobal / Shutterstock

It is easy to think about the Coens, as younger Hollywood writers themselves, having lots of enjoyable with this one. Barton Fink follows a profitable playwright (John Turturro) who makes the transfer from New York to Hollywood to take a profitable screenwriting job with a significant studio. After setting himself up in a dismal lodge, although, and assembly the intimidating studio boss (Michael Lerner), Fink quickly finds himself with a case of author’s block — which he is compelled to navigate through interactions together with his talkative neighbour (John Goodman), a well-known alcoholic author (John Mahoney), and the author’s troubled spouse and secretary, Audrey (Judy Davis).

There’s lots occurring on this film, from an exploration of the artistic course of and its many obstacles to the strain between artwork for cash versus artwork as a car for that means and alter. The Coens deal with all of it with a deft contact, throwing in some extremely amusing moments (Goodman’s wrestling tutorial and Lerner’s poolside rant being two of them) and making a film that you will wish to rewatch the minute the (excellent) last shot cuts to the credit. — S.H.

The right way to watch: Barton Fink is accessible to hire or purchase on Prime Video.

5. Fargo

Frances McDormand as Marge Gunderson, taking aim.

Credit score: Michael Tackett / Working Title / Polygram / Kobal / Shutterstock

There aren’t many movies on the market in style sufficient to encourage a very-popular-in-its-own-right TV present, however Fargo — with its snowy North Dakota setting and offbeat black comedy fashion — has managed it with aplomb. One of the vital memorable roles in Hollywood historical past, closely pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) makes an attempt to untangle a messy homicide and its hyperlinks to some employed kidnappers, with issues shortly spiralling within the amusingly chaotic method solely Coen brothers motion pictures can. Complimentary characters embody a spineless William H. Macy as desperate-for-money automobile vendor Jerry Lundegaard, a chillingly dead-eyed Peter Stormare as employed kidnapper Gaear Grimsrud, and Steve Buscemi as his slimy accomplice in crime. — S.H.

The right way to watch: Fargo is accessible to hire/purchase on Prime Video.

4. Inside Llewyn Davis

Oscar Isaac with a cat in

A very troublesome cat, that one.
Credit score: Moviestore / Shutterstock

It won’t be as legendary as among the Coens different motion pictures (or at the least not but), however Inside Llewyn Davis greater than deserves its spot close to the highest of this record. A melancholy movie about artistic frustrations and failure, the movie centres on titular people singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) over a chaotic and dreary week in New York’s Greenwich Village within the ’60s. Davis is struggling to get his large break however is hampered by a scarcity of cash, fixed dangerous luck, and the dying of his former musical accomplice, which hangs over him like a cloud as he offers with misplaced pet cats, unusual carpool companions, and a aggressive music scene he can by no means fairly sustain with. Partly impressed by the autobiography of people singer Dave Van Ronk, the movie has some fascinating structural quirks that I will not go into to keep away from spoiler territory, and the soundtrack (together with reside recorded people songs, some sung by Isaac himself) types the proper sorrowful backdrop to a film that superbly captures the wrestle of realising your goals. — S.H.

The right way to watch: Inside Llewyn Davis is accessible to stream now on Prime Video.

3. Miller’s Crossing

Gabriel Byrne and Marcia Gay Harden in

It is solely going to finish badly.
Credit score: Moviestore / Shutterstock

The gangster film style is a closely aggressive one, crammed with all-time classics like The Godfather and Goodfellas. However even amongst these titans, Miller’s Crossing deserves its seat on the desk. Set in prohibition-era America, the film follows Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne), a mobster caught in an escalating struggle between two rival crime bosses who additionally occurs to be having an affair with one of many boss’ girlfriends.

Like all of the Coen brothers motion pictures on the prime of this record Miller’s Crossing has some really legendary scenes, from bookie Bernie Bernbaum (John Turturro) begging for his life within the woods to mobster Leo O’Bannon (Albert Finney) having a shootout in his dressing robe whereas “Danny Boy” performs within the background. These moments are as good as they’re as a result of, just like the movie as a complete, they subvert expectations. This is not a film that follows a traditional trajectory, or performs out the way you suppose it is going to. Not like the good character arc of The Godfather’s Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), Miller’s Crossing is all tough and ragged across the edges. You do not know the place it is going, nevertheless it’s all the higher for it.

The right way to watch: Miller’s Crossing is accessible to stream now on Disney+. 

2. The Huge Lebowski

Jeff Bridges and John Goodman as The Dude and Walter in

“Walter, man…”
Credit score: Merrick Morton / Polygram / Working Title / Kobal / Shutterstock

When the phrase “cult traditional” is uttered, The Huge Lebowski needs to be one of many first motion pictures to spring to thoughts. With its forged of idiosyncratic characters, its stream of quotable strains, and a powerhouse central efficiency from Jeff Bridges as The Dude, it additionally needs to be one of many Coens’ greatest movies.

The film begins with a case of mistaken id (a preferred Coen brothers trope), with Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski getting confused for a completely completely different Lebowski who simply so occurs to be a) a millionaire, and b) in some severe hassle with some dangerous folks. What follows is a spectacularly entertaining farce involving blackmail, stolen rugs, and extra bowling than you’ll be able to shake a White Russian cocktail at. John Goodman is good as indignant Vietnam vet Walter Sobchak and Steve Buscemi’s nervous Donny is the proper complement to their bowling trio, to not point out the superb supporting performances from the likes of Julianne Moore, Peter Stormare, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Oh, and you are still in any doubt concerning the enduring reputation of this film, there’s even an annual Lebowski Fest the place followers dress up and play video games. There aren’t many motion pictures that depart that type of legacy, however this one most definitely abides. — S.H.

The right way to watch: The Huge Lebowski is accessible to stream on Showtime or hire/purchase on Prime Video.

1. No Nation For Previous Males

Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in

If seems to be might kill.
Credit score: Paramount / Miramax / Kobal / Shutterstock

OK, I am simply going to say it: Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh is the best film villain we have seen up to now this millennium. Together with his bowl minimize and dead-eyed gaze he is each terrifying and utterly iconic, a pressure of chaotic evil who sweeps by means of everybody in his path with out a trace of emotion or regret. That scene the place he flips the coin within the gasoline station? Sensible. His cat-and-mouse sport with Josh Brolin’s Llewelyn Moss? Sensible. Carrying that bolt pistol round just like the grim reaper, he’d be sufficient to hold any film on his personal, however the excellent news is he would not even have to. As a result of the entire movie is phenomenal.

Primarily based on Cormac MacCarthy’s novel of the identical title, No Nation for Previous Males is a neo-western that revolves across the aftermath of a botched drug deal and the invention of a suitcase full of cash. What follows combines Roger Deakins’ gorgeous cinematography with a forged of memorable characters, some poster-worthy dialogue, and staggering moments which are really inconceivable to see coming. The primary time I watched it, in all honesty, I used to be left with combined feelings on the very finish — however the extra I see this movie, the higher it will get. It is the type of film you’ll be able to watch again and again and nonetheless benefit from the thrill and rigidity of the core chase, whilst you discover small particulars that you simply utterly missed on earlier viewings.

Which one’s your favorite Coen brothers movie? Name it, friendo.— S.H.

The right way to watch: No Nation for Previous Males is accessible to hire or purchase on Prime Video.

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