05 January 2011

From the Righting Serious Wrongs Dept.

(edited to reflect compulsory re-watching of Raising Arizona and to, you know, actually include all the Coen Bros. movies.)

So, splashed all over the cover of The Seattle Times this morning was a critic's ranking of all the Coen Bros. films. The list is so laughable/enraging that I was glad when a double check of the byline revealed the person is not an actual employee of my hometown paper (Ann Hornaday (huh huh) writes for The Washington Post and I've of course never heard of her). In case you don't want to click through, suffice to say she puts No Country for Old Men 14th, only five slots under The Hudsucker Proxy. She also has some cop out about the ranking being based on "how eager [she] would be to watch them again." Nonsense, go play with a puppy.

While I do think there can be stimulating debate on this topic, here is a ranking that is at least not totally ridiculous. 

The Classics

1. Fargo (14-year-old self thought it wasn't that great because he saw it right after The Usual Suspects, 14-year-old self was dead wrong--go Bears!)

1a. No Country for Old Men (Cormac McCarthy done right--hilarious, sadistic, gorgeous American dreams)

3. Blood Simple (I still believe I am due to be murdered by an extremely patient M. Emmet Walsh)

4. The Big Lebowski (not a day goes by I don't need to use one or another lines from this film, and that was true before I was on a bowling team, throwing rocks)

The Very Good to Good

5. Raising Arizona (after a fresh viewing the cartoony cinematography still keeps this from Classic status though I greatly admire the relentless pace, great period clothing and Holly Hunter's haircut)

6. True Grit (despite surface similarities to other of their films, a new direction for the Coens full of surprising Little House on the Prairie wholesomeness)

7. The Man Who Wasn't There (big plus for Billy Bob leg shaving and Scarlett Johansson madness, little minus for alien stuff)

8. A Serious Man (I see how people can find it hard to get into this one but there is truly a revelation in the last five minutes)

9. Burn After Reading (I've rarely laughed harder than I did at Brad Pitt's pronunciation of "rapport," and John Malkovich's reaction to that pronunciation, plus J.K. Simmons behaves exactly as I imagine high level government officials would)

10. Miller's Crossing (well-executed but less ambitious than their great films)

The Ones I Think Swing and Miss

11. O, Brother Where Art Thou? (I never bought into the Odyssey retelling theme and, prepare yourself for a sacrilegious thought, I think the music is borderline annoying)

12. Barton Fink (too much ham in that sandwich for me, and I'm noticing a strong inverse relationship between how much I like a film and how much time John Turturro is on screen in that film)

The Bad

13. The Hudsucker Proxy (as unwatchable as most all Tim Robbins movies)

14. Intolerable Cruelty (the Coen Bros. film that tries to be the most funny is the least)

The I Haven't Seen But Know Is Garbage

15. The Ladykillers (Ms. Hornaday and I agree!)

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