The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, have collaborated on 18 movies since their spectacular debut “Blood Simple” in 1984. Their films are marked by scintillating dialogue, quirky and sometimes doomed characters, and an alchemy of dark comedy and foreboding, where greed and revenge often culminate in a grisly end.
To determine the best Coen brothers movies, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of September 2022. All ratings were weighted equally. Data on cast credits came from IMDb. Only movies directed jointly by both Coen brothers were considered, and their recent documentary about Jerry Lee Lewis was omitted.
The brothers’ cinematic craftsmanship has been rewarded at the box office with three films grossing more than $60 million each. Their version of “True Grit” brought in more than $171 million at the box office. In addition, critics routinely hail their artistic vision and singular style. Of the 18 movies on the list, eight have received a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score of 90% or higher, and three of them have garnered an IMDb user rating of 8.0 or above out of 10. (See 17 movie remakes to steam that are better than the original.)
Two Coens’ films have won Academy Awards – “No Country For Old Men” and “Fargo,” with the former film named as Best Picture in 2008, one of its four Oscars. Eight other Coen brothers’ movies have been nominated for Oscars. (“Fargo” has also been rated by the critics as one of the 100 best movies of the last 100 years.)
Like many filmmakers, the Coens have developed a company of actors they prefer to work with. Frances McDormand, who won a Best Actress Oscar for “Fargo” in 1997, has appeared in eight of their films (she is married to Joel). Some of the more frequent collaborators include John Goodman and Steve Buscemi (five films each) and John Turturro and George Clooney (four each).
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