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What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film? 

Which Coen Bros. Film is the Best?
Blood Simple (1984) 6%  6%  [ 2 ]
Raising Arizona (1987) 14%  14%  [ 5 ]
Miller's Crossing (1990) 3%  3%  [ 1 ]
Barton Fink (1991) 3%  3%  [ 1 ]
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) 3%  3%  [ 1 ]
Fargo (1996) 9%  9%  [ 3 ]
The Big Lebowski (1998) 11%  11%  [ 4 ]
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) 9%  9%  [ 3 ]
The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Intolerable Cruelty (2003) 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
The Ladykillers (2004) 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
No Country for Old Men (2007) 29%  29%  [ 10 ]
Burn After Reading (2008) 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
A Serious Man (2009) 9%  9%  [ 3 ]
True Grit (2010) 6%  6%  [ 2 ]
Total votes : 35

What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film? 
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
Does no one else remember all the problems with NCFOM? The way Woody Harrelson's character just kinda shows up out of nowhere, gives important plot information, and then dies? Or the way the movie loses its furious intensity upon Josh Brolin's poorly handled death? Or the final meandering? Don't get me wrong, it's good, but it could have been great.

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Sun Aug 12, 2012 1:24 am
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
JamesKunz wrote:
Does no one else remember all the problems with NCFOM? The way Woody Harrelson's character just kinda shows up out of nowhere, gives important plot information, and then dies? Or the way the movie loses its furious intensity upon Josh Brolin's poorly handled death? Or the final meandering? Don't get me wrong, it's good, but it could have been great.

I agree with you there, there were a few too many flaws.


Sun Aug 12, 2012 2:02 am
Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
JamesKunz wrote:
Does no one else remember all the problems with NCFOM? The way Woody Harrelson's character just kinda shows up out of nowhere, gives important plot information, and then dies? Or the way the movie loses its furious intensity upon Josh Brolin's poorly handled death? Or the final meandering? Don't get me wrong, it's good, but it could have been great.

I'm pretty sure I remember the last conversation we had about this, including the ending, so I'll just skip to that part: all of your criticisms have been rebutted and I am playing a guitar solo in front of a backdrop of fireworks and scantily clad female dancers.


Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:25 am
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
Ken wrote:
JamesKunz wrote:
Does no one else remember all the problems with NCFOM? The way Woody Harrelson's character just kinda shows up out of nowhere, gives important plot information, and then dies? Or the way the movie loses its furious intensity upon Josh Brolin's poorly handled death? Or the final meandering? Don't get me wrong, it's good, but it could have been great.

I'm pretty sure I remember the last conversation we had about this, including the ending, so I'll just skip to that part: all of your criticisms have been rebutted and I am playing a guitar solo in front of a backdrop of fireworks and scantily clad female dancers.


Ha! If I remember correctly, no one could rebut my Woody Harrelson point because I'm unimpeachably correct on that score. The ending is just opinion though

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Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:11 am
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
Well, consider this: he doesn't show up out of nowhere. He follows the rule of storytelling which states that important details to the plot must be introduced at a time before they fulfill their function. (The "Chekov's Gun" rule.) Wells appears in the scene with the appropriately named Man Who Hires Wells. It is a scene in which his personality and style are cemented, yet he interacts with none of the main characters in this scene and doesn't influence their quests. So, even if he does appear in midstream, he doesn't violate that old screenwriter's maxim. He is technically sound in that regard.

As for what that function is, he serves a few. Being Mr. Exposition (which, while fairly conventional by Coen and McCarthy standards, is still valid storytelling technique) is just one of those functions. There would be a logical hole without Wells, that nobody else seems to care about the missing money, even though they obviously would. Wells also demonstrates that even in the underworld of expert tracker/killers, Anton Chigurh is not one to mess with. Wells is here as a gauge for Chigurh's villainous powers, a storytelling convention borrowed from adventure fiction.

So, which version of the "You Really Got Me" solo will it be? Kinks or Van Halen?


Sun Aug 12, 2012 11:07 am
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
Ken wrote:
Well, consider this: he doesn't show up out of nowhere. He follows the rule of storytelling which states that important details to the plot must be introduced at a time before they fulfill their function. (The "Chekov's Gun" rule.) Wells appears in the scene with the appropriately named Man Who Hires Wells. It is a scene in which his personality and style are cemented, yet he interacts with none of the main characters in this scene and doesn't influence their quests. So, even if he does appear in midstream, he doesn't violate that old screenwriter's maxim. He is technically sound in that regard.

As for what that function is, he serves a few. Being Mr. Exposition (which, while fairly conventional by Coen and McCarthy standards, is still valid storytelling technique) is just one of those functions. There would be a logical hole without Wells, that nobody else seems to care about the missing money, even though they obviously would. Wells also demonstrates that even in the underworld of expert tracker/killers, Anton Chigurh is not one to mess with. Wells is here as a gauge for Chigurh's villainous powers, a storytelling convention borrowed from adventure fiction.

So, which version of the "You Really Got Me" solo will it be? Kinks or Van Halen?


Nothing but The Kinks for Mrs. Kunz's baby boy

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Sun Aug 12, 2012 11:12 am
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
Other, more technically minded posters, will no doubt be able to point to certain tropes and mechanisms the Coen Brothers' films contain that I've probably missed - but the one thing that makes a Coen Brothers film for me is how it grows on you on repeated viewing. They have an almost supernatural ability to do this.

I don't think I've ever fell in love with a Coen Brothers film on first viewing. I even thought No Country was overrated when it was first released back in 07. But I now consider it an out-and-out masterpiece. Curiously their shallowest film, Burn After Reading, I did like very much first time, but it has now dulled to the rank of ordinary by their standards (still very, very high be anyone else's).

So for me, personally, The Big Lebowski is their best film because it best defines this ability they have to produce a film that can be revisited a seemingly infinite number of times with increasing enjoyment. Although I accept this choice is very personal and in no way seeks to diminish the other greats.

Blood Simple (1984) - 8/10

Raising Arizona (1987) - 8.5/10

Miller's Crossing (1990) - 9/10

Barton Fink (1991) - not seen yet

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) - 8/10

Fargo (1996) - 8.5/10

The Big Lebowski (1998) - 10/10

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) 8/10

The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) 8.5/10

Intolerable Cruelty (2003) 7.5/10

The Ladykillers (2004) Not seen yet

No Country for Old Men (2007) 10/10

Burn After Reading (2008) 8/10

A Serious Man (2009) - Not seen yet

True Grit (2010) - 8.5/10

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Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:47 am
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
I think Hugh should see both Barton Fink and A Serious Man multiple times ASAP.


Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:22 am
Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
NotHughGrant wrote:
...but the one thing that makes a Coen Brothers film for me is how it grows on you on repeated viewing.


PeachyPete wrote:
I think Hugh should see both Barton Fink and A Serious Man multiple times ASAP.


I agree on both of the above. You'll definitely need those repeated viewings on these two NotHughGrant.


Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:44 pm
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
They're on the list.

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Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:19 am
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
They really are once in a generation type film makers when Miller's Crossing isn't considered their best, by anyone at this site thus far. I'd think, Miller's Crossing, Fargo, The Big Lebowski and A Serious Man are all four star films, all classics. If pressed Fargo would be my answer, but any four would be worthy.

The opening scene of Miller's Crossing is my favorite of any film ever. The only time the two bosses square off, every shot edited perfectly, the way the bosses right hand men glance at each other. Every line of dialogue and in particular that line delivered pitch perfect from Albert Finney, "Johnny, you're exactly as big as I let you be and don't forget it ever." To think that scene is taking the piss out of The Godfather and still stands definitively on its own is something special in itself.

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Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:52 pm
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
It occurs to me that the Great Forum Account Wipeout of 2012 affords me a rare chance to vote twice in this poll.

Lucky for everyone here, my confidence in Barton Fink is so great that I don't need to vote for it again to feel secure that it is the obvious winner.

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Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:28 am
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
Ken wrote:
It occurs to me that the Great Forum Account Wipeout of 2012 affords me a rare chance to vote twice in this poll.

Lucky for everyone here, my confidence in Barton Fink is so great that I don't need to vote for it again to feel secure that it is the obvious winner.


All those votes will be lost in time...like tears in rain.

wisey wrote:
The opening scene of Miller's Crossing is my favorite of any film ever. The only time the two bosses square off, every shot edited perfectly, the way the bosses right hand men glance at each other. Every line of dialogue and in particular that line delivered pitch perfect from Albert Finney, "Johnny, you're exactly as big as I let you be and don't forget it ever." To think that scene is taking the piss out of The Godfather and still stands definitively on its own is something special in itself.


It's nice to see someone go to bat for this movie. I don't think it's their best, but I do consider it a 4 star movie, and have no problem with someone thinking it's their best. By my count they've made 6 four star movies, which makes it pretty difficult to differentiate between all those great movies. And it isn't like their other movies are crap, either.


Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:14 am
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
I feel that Millers Crossing is often overlooked. With that said its by far my favorite Cohen Brothers film,closely followed by Fargo.

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Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:33 pm
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
My personal pick is Raising Arizona. Its funny. But it also has drama and teh characters are developed well enough. It took a few viewings to reach this level. But now I feel confident placing it at the top of the Coen period.

Arizona, Fargo, Millers Crossing, The Big Lebowski and No Country For Old Men are all four star movies in my book. True Grit I'd rank at about ***1/2 as I would Barton Fink, O Brother, The Man Who Wasn't There and Blood Simple. Blood Simple has many people claiming it was their best. And while it did have some good moments, on the whole it was obvious that the Coen's were still finding their voice.

Burn after Reading I'd give *** to. It's fairly lighweight by the Coen's standards. But even lightweight fare from them is worthwhile. Will have to re-watch Hudsucker since it's been a while since I last saw it. Still forming an opinion on A Serious Man. That's one I admire, yet find to be rather depressing for some reason.

Intolerable Cruelty is among their weaker entries. It and The Ladykillers are the two Coen Brothers movies that feel the most like hired gun projects and in a way both are. Originally Cruelty was a script they re-wrote for Ron Howard to direct and The Ladykillers they wrote for Barry Sonnenfeld. When their plans to adapt James Dickey's To The White Sea failed and the original directors pulled out of both projects, they stepped in. Hence the director for hire feel of both films. I'd give both **1/2. Not bad movies per se. Just not up to the Coen Brothers standard.

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Sun Nov 25, 2012 7:00 pm
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
Miller's Crossing is a brilliant film, not quite my favorite Coen brothers film but goddamn if it isn't magnificent to behold. Barton Fink is fantastic as well, although one I need to watch again soon. I still feel Blood Simple is an underrated and fantastically nihilistic film. I need to watch A Serious Man again. Fargo and The Big Lebowski are my favorites, the two I've loved most since first viewing them and that have only grown in my estimation since those initial viewings. I feel No Country for Old Men is a slight step below Fargo and Lebowski but on par or a step above Crossing, Fink and A Serious Man

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Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:36 am
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
Oh, and True Grit is excellent by any other standards but lower rung by Coen standards.

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Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:40 am
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
True Grit feels like a small film by Coen's standards. Like they just wanted to make something a bit simpler for a change.

Still very good.

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Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:43 am
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
NotHughGrant wrote:
True Grit feels like a small film by Coen's standards. Like they just wanted to make something a bit simpler for a change.

Still very good.


The best scene is the girl bartering for her father's horses.

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Thu Nov 29, 2012 4:16 pm
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Post Re: What's the Coen Brothers' Best Film?
JJoshay wrote:
NotHughGrant wrote:
True Grit feels like a small film by Coen's standards. Like they just wanted to make something a bit simpler for a change.

Still very good.


The best scene is the girl bartering for her father's horses.


Though that scene is better in the original

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