The Coen Brothers have made some of the best films in the last 30 years and now with their new film Hail, Caesar! coming out, this weeks Top Ten is the best Coen Brothers directed films.
Burn After Reading (2008)
Kicking off the list with maybe the most divisive Coen Brothers film. I liked Burn After Reading, it’s not perfect, not everything works but I still enjoyed it. Brad Pitt is very funny and Frances McDormand is always great in a Coens film. It’s a quirky, fun, unpredictable puzzle.
The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
I’m not a huge film noir fan (I didn’t really like the Coen’s debut film Blood Simple) but I loved The Man who Wasn’t There. I really got wrapped up in this story, mainly due to Billy Bob Thornton’s fantastic portrayal of Ed Crane. The rest of the cast is great, particularly Tony Shalhoub and like most Coen films you’re constantly trying to figure out what’s going to happen to these characters.
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
A lot of great actors were cast in the new Star Wars film but I was most excited to see Oscar Isaac because of this performance. For this film to be interesting you need a great performance and Oscar Isaac delivers. The films looks beautiful, the music is great and the Please Mr Kennedy song is hilarious.
True Grit (2010)
In 2010 the Coens decided to take on a John Wayne classic and they pulled it off. True Grit is fantastic. Another film that looks beautiful, thanks to cinematographer Roger Deakins. Deakins puts you in the west and you’re going on this manhunt too. Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon are really good but Hailee Steinfeld steals the whole film as Mattie Ross. True Grit may be the best remake of all time.
Raising Arizona (1987)
The second film from the Coens stars Nic Cage, Holly Hunter and John Goodman that’s not bad for a second film. This early performance from Nicolas Cage is so good and his chemistry with Holly Hunter is perfect. This is also the first of many appearances of John Goodman in a Coens film and it’s a good one.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
I’m convinced that the character of Patrick Star from Spongebob, was based on Walter Sobchak. The Dudebob Squarepants is one of the greatest characters every created. Jeff Bridges is so great in this crazy stoner comedy. The end of this film reminds me of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, you get to the end and realise that, everything was pointless, no one learnt anything, no one gained anything, things just happened and we saw them. And I love that. John Goodman kills it in this film as the annoying but lovable best friend (Patrick Star), John Turturro is amazing in his small scenes and the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman is wonderful as always.
A Serious Man (2009)
In classic Coens fashion, A Serious Man leaves you confused and slightly disappointed by the end. Then after time, you start to think about the film and then rewatch it and start to piece together what the film is trying to say. A lot of people are left frustrated with Coen Brothers films but I always see them as puzzles that you have to solve. They leave their films open ended, so you have to watch them several times to catch all the details. I didn’t like A Serious Man the first time I saw it but I had to see it again because it was annoying me. I had to figure it out and after many viewings, I still haven’t. I think the film is about how open ended life is and the way you feel after watching the film, is how most people feel about life.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Javier Bardem is the scariest man ever. No Country For Old Men, is like a horror film but the protagonist is a badass. This film gets so intense, on several occasions my heart was pounding and I was getting very nervous. You could turn this film into a silent movie and Roger Deakins cinematography would tell the story. This is probably the best film the Coens have ever made but it’s the third film I enjoyed the most of theirs.
Fargo was the first film of the Coens I ever saw and I was instantly a fan. Almost all of their films involve an average, normal person getting wrapped up in a crazy plot and Fargo succeeded at that the most. Marge Gunderson is one of the most likeable characters in film history and when she gets sucked into this plot you are happy to go along with her. Fargo I think is the funniest and horrific film the Coens have ever made. The film is very violent and very funny but the tone works perfectly. I love dark comedies and Fargo is definitely one of the best.
Barton Fink (1991)
Many times I have been sat in my room with writer’s block and every time I’m waiting for John Goodman to knock on the door, but he never does. My favourite films are ones I really connect to. Barton Fink is a film where I saw myself in Barton Fink and really connected to the story. So then when the film takes a crazy twist, I was still able to navigate through the film with Barton Fink. I love John Goodman, I think he’s one of the best character actors and doesn’t get enough credit. He’s been great in many Coen films but in this one I think he’s at his best. He’s so likable when he first comes into the film and you think he’s going to be the annoying neighbour but then him and Fink have a really nice friendship. When the film does take that twist towards the end, it’s setup so well that it really affected me when it happens. Some of the imagery at the end is amazing and for me Barton Fink has the best ending of any Coen Brothers film and so it is the perfect end to this week’s Top Ten.
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Next Week – Top Ten Romantic Comedies