"Look upon me! I'll show you the life of the mind!"

For your consideration - Ranking the Coens.


Primary - The Tier of Timeless Transcendent Brilliance

“Can you tell a story? Can you make us laugh? Can you make us cry? Can you make us want to break out in joyous song? Is that more than one thing? Okay!”

  1. No Country for Old Men
  2. The Big Lebowski
  3. Miller’s Crossing

Near Orbit - Simply Brilliant

“I don’t pretend to be a critic, but lord knows I have a gut, and my gut tells me it’s simply marvelous.”

  1. Fargo
  2. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  3. Barton Fink
  4. The Man Who Wasn’t There

Third Orbit - Marvelously Great

“Bill! You’re the finest novelist of our time.”

  1. Raising Arizona
  2. Blood Simple.
  3. A Serious Man

Tertiary Works - Fair to Middling.

“Barring a preference we’re going to put you on a wrestling picture.”

  1. True Grit
  2. Inside Llewyn Davis
  3. The Hudsucker Proxy
  4. Hail, Caesar!

Not Good (maybe even Bad)

“You think I made your life hell? Take a look around this dump. You’re just a tourist with a typewriter.”

  1. Intolerable Cruelty
  2. Burn After Reading
  3. The Ladykillers

I invite other to list their own ranks, as well as comment on , concur with , refute or mock this listing, as they so desire.

Inspired by a conversation with @Matt_W, @Nesrie, @malkav11 and @Rock8man

I’d put Fargo, True Grit and maybe A Serious Man in that top tier, move Big Lebowski and Miller’s Crossing down a couple, and bump Intolerable Cruelty and Burn After Reading up a tier. But otherwise seems fair.

I’d move Fargo to the top tier as well. As an aside, i’m becoming increasingly convinced that Navaronegun isn’t an actual human, but an AI that is simultaneously and permanently logged into QT3 and Netflix.

True Grit at the top followed by Raising Arizona and O Brother, Where Art Thou. Fargo and No Country for Old Men near the bottom. I’ve not seen any of the others.

Since I only partially like O Brother, mostly due to the music and the fact my little sister really liked it, that means most of their movies that I’ve seen so far, I just don’t like. It’s the driving reason I haven’t gone out of my way to see the others.

The only one I get flack from from my friends is The Big Lebowski. For some reason, for reasons they can barely articulate, they want me to see that.

Like a movie critic version of IBM’s Watson. I concur with your theory.

As for the list I honestly haven’t seen a lot of the lower tiers. For the top two, however, I would move No Country down a peg, and … I don’t think I’d move another up to take it’s place. I’m certainly in the minority of people who wasn’t overwhelmingly full of praise for No Country.

I’d nudge Burn After Reading up a rank just because I enjoy some of the performances.

I don’t rank Miller’s Crossing higher than Fargo or O Brother. I’d elevate those two to the top rank. And True Grit is just a whole lot of fun. Put that one up in near orbit.

The Man Who Wasn’t There is oddly compelling but I’d drop that down a rank if I needed to make room for True Grit.

I saw Blood Simple at the theater when it was first released and haven’t watched it since. I remember it, but not much of it. Not sure where to put it.

Ladykillers is sort of dull. A few moments, but feels forced. Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks and not his character. Hail, Caesar seems to build but never delivers. I did love the dance scene with the navy guys in the bar, though. That was a great scene. George Clooney as a befuddled star wasn’t all that convincing.

What, no poll? You feeling ok?

Not going to disagree with your top tier. I mean, I’d move Miller’s up to the top of the list above the other two, but I’m crazy like that. All three of these are great, timeless works of art and entertainment.

The next two sections, I’d trade Arizona and Blood Simple with Fink and The Man. Regarding that third tier, I’d rename it to "Movies that do exactly what the brothers wanted them to do, but that goal was inherently flawed or uninteresting”.

The other two categories aren’t worth quibbling over. Some entertaining movies/moments (some more than others) but eh. Whatever.

I’m not sure. It’s like a thread with no net!

I’m gonna be honest, I don’t get why that movie has such a cult around it. It’s a fine movie, funny, with some good lines. But it’s held in reverence that far exceeds that.

You should watch Burn After Reading again, Navaronegun. It is truly a movie for our times - unfortunately.

Personally I’d move Lebowski down a few pegs (tons of fun, but ultimately a remake of The Big Sleep that’s a meta-commentary on how Raymond Chandler structured his plots doesn’t tell us as much about about the human condition as, say, A Serious Man.) I’d also move down O Brother Where Art Thou? and The Man Who Wasn’t There a bit (I prefer the originals - The Odyssey/Sullivan’s Travels and The Postman Always Rings Twice.) Same with Raising Arizona; I loved the live-action cartoon aspect when it came out, but it hasn’t aged that well. And I’d put Hail Caesar down near the bottom - it’s just lifeless and inert, which is not normally a problem for the Coens.

I’d move Burn After Reading up a couple of notches, certainly above Intolerable Cruelty, and maybe above The Hudsucker Proxy. I’d also move up A Serious Man, which is an excellent commentary on the book of Job. Maybe Inside Llewellyn Davis, too.

And I’d put The Ladykillers into an “Undeniably Bad” category. Not only is it terrible, but it casts a shadow on the far better original classic.

My personal fave, but not necessarily the “best”, is Barton Fink. I could tell you some stories! On paper I love Miller’s Crossing even more, but it’s simply too convoluted for its own good. You have to watch it at least twice just to get the plot straight.

I’ll tell you why, because it operates successfully on several levels. First, it’s stoner humor, which is obviously the most accessible level, and lots of people like it for that, and the one-liners. It’s also got some great characters.

But it’s also a really funny deconstruction of old school detective novels and movies, like an old school Sam Spade story that just collapses in on itself. It would be like if you had a Star Wars movie but replaced Luke Skywalker with Austin Powers or something.

Top 3 are No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, and Inside Llewyn Davis. Eye em oh, of course.

I’m gonna put some thought into this and make a post soonish. I’ll have to come up with some objective-seeming-but-really-totally-subjective measure to rank them by. Some of them are hard because they have moments of pure genius, but are otherwise kind of eh. Example:

“I thought… a minute ago it was Mr. Lorentz.”

I’m in agreement. I enjoyed it a lot. I don’t think it should be top tier on any list.

Dude this is a new thread, you can make a poll ya know. We were just teasing you in the other thread.

Ranking the Coen’s is just so so tough. And there’s often a huge difference between “favorite” or “most fun” as opposed to “best.”

I think for sheer fun, I put Raising Arizona at the top.

I think I’m going to rank them by “We are going to sit you in a chair and make you watch a Coen film, but you get to choose which one.”

In that case, rankings:

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou
Raising Arizona
No Country for Old Men
The Big Labowski
Miller’s Crossing
Blood Simple
True Grit
The Hudsucker Proxy
Hail, Caesar!
Barton Fink
Burn After Reading
A Serious Man
The Man Who Wasn’t There
Intolerable Cruelty

and I’ve left Inside Llewyn Davis off the list because I’ve never gotten around to seeing it, so I don’t want to rank it.

Did I miss any?

This thread reminds me I still need to see Miller’s Crossing.

I also seemed to like Ladykillers a lot more than y’all.

O Brother would be at the top of my list.

Oh man, you really do.

OK, a list. I’m roughly ranking these in the order of number of times seen, because I rarely watch movies more than once, and when I do it means I really like it.

The All Time Classics - films I’ve watched so many times that I know most of the lines of dialog

  1. Fargo - “Where is pancakes house?”
  1. The Big Lebowski - “I’m just gonna go find a cash machine.”
  1. Miller’s Crossing - “Sister, when I’ve raised hell you’ll know it.”
  1. The Hudsucker Proxy - “It is human and you are divine.”

The Great Ones - Films I’ve watched a couple of times and loved, but aren’t quite classics.

  1. No Country for Old Men
  2. O Brother, Where Art Thou
  3. Barton Fink
  4. Blood Simple

The Good Ones - Films I’ve only seen once, but would love to watch again

  1. Burn After Reading
  2. Inside Llweyn Davis
  3. Hail, Caesar!


  1. A Serious Man
  2. Raising Arizona
  3. Intolerable Cruelty
  4. True Grit
  5. The Man Who Wasn’t There

Haven’t Seen

  1. The Ladykillers

I’ve never seen Miller’s Crossing either, I don’t even remember it, though I guess as a freshman in high school at the time, and not a lot of access to movies in my small town, that’s a fairly common thing for me. Also, I can tell you for sure 14 year old Scott would have dismissed a movie called “Miller’s Crossing” as boring without even watching a trailer or seeing a poster. I still do that, it drives me crazy.

De gustibus non est disputandum.

Hudsucker Proxy is the best Coen brothers movie.

Mic drop