Rightwing Film Geek

Gratuitous lists-2

Via Ryan, I saw the New Republic post with the best title ever: “Gratuitous Coen Brothers Argument Starter.”

Any time the Coen Brothers come up among cinephiles or even moderately-conversant moviegoers, there seems to come over everyone a need to rank their films in order of preference.

More than any other film-makers, the Coen Brothers really offer a Rohrshach test for one’s own personality, because (and I’m indebted to Scott Tobias for this point) they nearly always make movies that are “perfect” with respect to their conceptions. And so one is primarily reacting to the film’s conception as an individual and not its execution as a critic. So … and keeping in mind I’ve seen all their movies except the latest BURN AFTER READING, here’s my list. And so, here’s my list updated to reflect BURN AFTER READING, which stunned me with how good it was.

  1. Fargo
  2. No Country for Old Men
  3. Blood Simple
  4. Burn After Reading
  5. Miller’s Crossing
  6. The Man Who Wasn’t There
  7. The Big Lebowski
  8. The Ladykillers
  9. Intolerable Cruelty
  10. Barton Fink
  11. The Hudsucker Proxy
  12. Raising Arizona
  13. O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The big gaps here are between 3 and 4, which has a big dropoff from “masterpiece” to “pretty good,” and then between 5 and 6, 6 and 7, which separates “pretty good” and “wildly uneven,” and 8 and 9, 9 and 10, which drops off from “uneven” to “don’t like even a little.”

Looking over this list, I’m pretty confident I will not care for BURN AFTER READING because I love the Coens’ crime movies and dislike (the point of detesting in some cases) their comedies, which I mostly consider to be too-clever-for-their-own-good snarkfests and too hit-and-miss (in LEBOWSKI: John Goodman and the funeral scene, great; Julianne Moore and JAY-zoos, no). Though I absolutely WILL see BURN, because I know that no matter how much I hated their last one (though I thought their last one was last year’s best film), the next one could always be a corker.

September 18, 2008 - Posted by | Coen brothers


  1. Based on your groupings, my Coen Bros. list starts at no. 6 and ends at about no. 15.

    Comment by anon | September 20, 2008 | Reply

  2. Okay– this is just too tempting to pass up… here’s my rankings:

    1)Barton Fink– one of my favorite movies ever– a great satire of artistic hubris and self-deception, among other things. Weird and enigmatic, hilarious and horrifying.
    2) Fargo– everybody else’s favorite
    3) The Hudsucker Proxy (underrated!)
    4) No Country for Old Men
    5) Burn After Reading
    6) The Ladykillers (also underrated!)
    7) Miller’s Crossing
    8) O Brother, Where Art Thou (overrated, but still good)
    9) Blood Simple
    10) The Big Lebowski (also overrated, but also still good)
    11) Intolerable Cruelty
    12) Raising Arizona
    13) The Man Who Wasn’t There

    I think all of them are great, or at least good, with the exception of “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” which just didn’t do a lot for me.

    Comment by Andy Nowicki | September 22, 2008 | Reply

  3. Actually, it’s pronounced ‘Jesus’, not ‘Jay-zoos’. Or were you being ironic?

    Comment by Dude | October 9, 2008 | Reply

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