Ranking the wonderful films of The Coen Brothers may seem like an exercise in futility, but since an exercise in futility is all that most of the Coen Brothers protagonists can strive for, it feels particularly appropriate. Their films are funny, yes, and violent and thrilling. They are about the strange circumstances that drive strange people to do strange things. They are about the whims of fate and the awful prophecies we write for ourselves. They are, together, two of the great auteurs.
The Coen Brothers, Joel and Ethan, got their start in the 1980s working behind the scenes on films like Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead. In 1984 the wrote and directed the inspired neo-noir Blood Simple, which became one of the first breakout sensations from the Sundance International Film Festival. For a while they seemed content to make quirky little films and raise the bar for American comedy, but ever since Fargo became a critical, Oscar-winning sensation in 1996, they’ve balanced their output: serious dramas, wry comedies, usually great but not necessarily. (The early 2000’s were not kind to the Coen Brothers, as you shall soon see.)
Nowadays, The Coen Brothers seem to have shrugged off conventional notions of quality. A new Coen Brothers film is usually to be celebrated, even if it’s not one of their best. Their distinctive vision, in both style and character, is a welcome change of pace from the grey monotony of most other movies (even the good ones). Their 17th motion picture together, Hail, Caesar!, arrives in theaters this weekend and it most certainly has a fine place amongst their pantheon. It’s not even close to their finest work, but after a long series of mostly great films (only 2 or 3 could be considered genuine duds, and not everybody even agrees on which 2 or 3), that still leaves plenty of room for Hail, Caesar! to shine.
Find out where Hail, Caesar! stands amidst all of the Coen Brothers’ movies, as we delve into the immense and fabulous filmography of some of America’s greatest storytellers.
In other words…
Let’s Rank All The Coen Brothers Movies!
Top Photo: Universal Pictures
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.