The Coen Brothers are fantastic filmmakers who have brought many brilliant films to screens all over the world. In this article, we list what we believe to be the best Coen Brothers movies.

The Coen Brothers have produced screen magic with The Big Lebowski, Fargo, and No Country For Old Men, among many others. His cinematic canon is wide and deep and we believe this list demonstrates that.

So whether you’re doing research on them, or ready to sit down and watch one of these movies tonight, this list of the top Coen Brothers movies will be just what you need!

It should be noted that we’ve included the films in rough ranking order. But with a duo of filmmakers like the Coen Brothers, the work is so good that it’s really hard to form an exact order.

So, without further ado, let’s jump right in and list the best Coen Brothers films!

The Best Coen Brothers Movies

Let’s start off with an absolute cinema classic, Fargo.

Fargo (1996)

Leave it to the wildly inventive Coen brothers (Joel directs, Ethan produces, they both write) to concoct a fiendishly clever kidnap caper that’s simultaneously a comedy of errors, a Midwestern satire, a taut suspense thriller, and a violent tale of criminal misfortune.

It all begins when a hapless car salesman (played to perfection by William H. Macy) ineptly orchestrates the kidnapping of his own wife.

The plan goes horribly awry in the hands of bumbling bad guys Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare (one of them being described by a local girl as “kinda funny lookin'” and “not circumcised”), and the pregnant sheriff of Brainerd, Minnesota, (played exquisitely by Frances McDormand in an Oscar-winning role) is suddenly faced with a case of multiple murders.

Her investigation is laced with offbeat observations about life in the rural hinterland of Minnesota and North Dakota, and Fargo embraces its local yokels with affectionate humor. At times shocking and hilarious, Fargo is utterly unique and distinctly American, bearing the unmistakable stamp of its inspired creators.

Fargo
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi (Actors)
  • Joel Coen (Director) - Tim Bevan (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Big Lebowski (1998)

From the Academy Award-winning Coen brothers, The Big Lebowski is a hilariously quirky comedy about bowling, a severed toe, White Russians, and a guy named…The Dude.

Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski doesn’t want any drama in his life…heck, he can’t even be bothered with a job. But, he must embark on a quest with his bowling buddies after his rug is destroyed in a twisted case of mistaken identity.

Starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and John Turturro, experience the cultural phenomenon of The Dude in the “#1 cult film of all time!” (The Boston Globe)

The Big Lebowski
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore (Actors)
  • Ethan Coen (Director) - Ethan Coen (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Leo is the benevolent Irish gangster and political boss who rules an Eastern city with the help of Tom, his trusted lieutenant, and counselor.

But their control of the town is challenged by an over-reaching Italian underboss and his ruthless henchman.

Just as this threat erupts, Leo and Tom have a falling out over the same woman. Tom, caught in the jaws of a gangland violent outcome.

Arguably the best film by Joel and Ethan Coen, the 1990 Miller’s Crossing stars Gabriel Byrne as Tom, a loyal lieutenant of a crime boss named Leo (Albert Finney) who is in a Prohibition-era turf war with his major rival, Johnny Caspar (Jon Polito).

A man of principle, Tom nevertheless is romantically involved with Leo’s lover (Marcia Gay Harden), whose screwy brother (John Turturro) escapes a hit ordered by Caspar only to become Tom’s problem.

Making matters worse, Tom has outstanding gambling debts he can’t pay, which keeps him in regular touch with a punishing enforcer.

With all the energy the Coens put into their films, and all their focused appreciation of genre conventions and rules, and all their efforts to turn their movies into ironic appreciations of archetypes in American fiction, they never got their formula so right as with Miller’s Crossing.

With its Hammett-like dialogue and Byzantine plot and moral chaos mitigated by one hero’s personal code, the film so transcends its self-scrutiny as a retro-crime thriller that it is a deserved classic in its own right. –Tom Keogh

Miller's Crossing
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, Marcia Gay Harden (Actors)
  • Joel Coen (Director) - Ethan Coen (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

No Country For Old Men (2007)

Violence and mayhem erupt after a man stumbles upon a bloody crime scene, a stash of heroine, and $2 million in cash in Miramax Films No Country For Old Men.

Acclaimed filmmakers The Coen Brothers deliver their most viscerally compelling and ambitious film yet in this gripping crime saga in which money is as irresistible as bad choices are inevitable, and where every decision has potentially catastrophic consequences.

Adapted from the novel by Pulitzer prize-winning author, Cormac McCarthy and starring an acclaimed cast led by Academy Award winner Tommy Lee Jones, this mesmerizing game of cat and mouse will have you on the edge of your seat until the nail-biting end.

No Country For Old Men
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones (Actors)
  • Ethan Coen (Director) - Ethan Coen (Writer) - Joel Coen (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Barton Fink (1991)

John Turturro (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) shines in the lead role as Barton Fink, the Coen Brothers’ (Fargo, No Country for Old Men) hilarious satire set in 1940s Hollywood.

Barton Fink is a Broadway playwright who reluctantly relocates to Hollywood to write screenplays.

Ordered to write a low-budget screenplay about wrestling, Fink manages to type one sentence and then… nothing!

Although his chatty insurance salesman neighbor Charlie (John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane) helps out by teaching Barton about wrestling, the clock ticks, the temperature rises, and Barton’s life spin more and more out of control.

The top-notch cast includes Judy Davis (Naked Lunch), Michael Lerner (Busting), John Mahoney (TVs Frasier), Tony Shalhoub (TVs Monk), Jon Polito (Miller’s Crossing), and Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs), with a hauntingly beautiful score by Carter Burwell (Blood Simple) and gorgeous cinematography by Roger Deakins (The Big Lebowski).

Barton Fink received three 1991 Oscar nominations – (Best Supporting Actor – Lerner, Art Direction/Set Direction and Costume Design), and also won Best Actor (Turturro) and Best Director (Joel Coen), as well as the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes.

Barton Fink
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • John Turturro, John Goodman, Judy Davis (Actors)
  • Joel Coen (Director) - Ethan Coen (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is an American western anthology film written, directed, and produced by the Coen brothers. It stars Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, James Franco, Zoe Kazan, Tyne Daly, and Tom Waits.

It premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2018, where it won the Golden Osella Award for Best Screenplay and is scheduled to be released November 16 on Netflix after a theatrical run.

Six chapters each present a different story from the wild frontier. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs tells the story of a sharp-shooting songster.

In Near Algodones, a wannabe bank robber gets his due and then some. Meal Ticket is a gothic tale about two weary traveling performers.

All Gold Canyon is a story about a prospector mining for gold, while a woman finds an unexpected promise of love, along with a dose of life’s cruel irony, on a wagon train across the prairies in The Gal Who Got Rattled.

Finally, ghostly laughs haunt The Mortal Remains as a Lady rains judgment upon a motley crew of strangers undertaking a final carriage ride.

Sale
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Coen, Joel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 12/18/2018 (Publication Date) - Faber & Faber (Publisher)

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

The visionary chroniclers of eccentric Americana Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo) present one of their greatest creations in Llewyn Davis, a singer barely eking out a living on the peripheries of the flourishing Greenwich Village folk scene of the early sixties.

As embodied by Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina), in a revelatory performance, Llewyn (loosely modeled on off-the-radar folk legend Dave Van Ronk) is extraordinarily talented but also irascible, rude, and self-defeating.

Our man s circular odyssey through an unforgiving wintry cityscape, evocatively captured by cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel (Amélie), is realized with poignant humor and the occasional surreal touch.

Featuring a folk soundtrack curated by T Bone Burnett, Inside Llewyn Davis reminds us that in the Coens world, history isn’t necessarily written by the winners.

Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman (Actors)
  • Joel Coen (Director) - Joel Coen (Writer) - Scott Rudin (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

A Serious Man (2009)

Academy Award-winning directors Joel and Ethan Coen return to their comedy roots with this original and darkly humorous story about one ordinary man’s quest to become a serious man.

Physics professor Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) can’t believe his life: His wife is leaving him for his best friend, his unemployed brother won’t move off the couch, someone is threatening his career, his kids are a mystery and his neighbor is tormenting him by sunbathing nude.

Struggling to make sense of it all, Larry consults three different rabbis and their answers lead him on a twisted journey of faith, family, delinquent behavior, and mortality in the film critics rave is “seriously awesome!” (Michael Hogan, Vanity Fair).

A Serious Man
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen (Actors)
  • Ethan Coen (Director) - Joel Coen (Writer) - Joel Coen (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)

From the Academy Award-winning Coen Brothers, The Man Who Wasn’t There is a dark and twisted film noir set in a small 1949 California town.

This is the story of a seemingly simple barber (Billy Bob Thornton), who turns to corruption and revenge to escape his achingly dull life. Blackmail is his opportunity to be more than a man that no one notices.

But in the tradition of classic noir, nothing goes as planned and nothing is as it seems.

As the barber’s plot unravels, the delicious surprises, stunning revelations, and just plain strange occurrences will disturb and delight you long after the film has ended. Settle in the chair and listen.

The Man Who Wasn't There
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco (Actors)
  • Joel Coen (Director) - Tim Bevan (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Blood Simple (1984)

“The career-long darkly comic road trip through misfit America of Joel and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis) began with this razor-sharp, hard-boiled neo-noir set somewhere in Texas, where a sleazy bar owner sets off a torrent of violence with one murderous thought.

Actor M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner) looms over the proceedings as the slippery private eye with a yellow suit, a cowboy hat, and no moral compass, and Frances McDormand (Fargo) gives a cunning debut performance that set her on the road to stardom.

The tight scripting and inventive camera work that has marked the Coens work for decades are all here, as cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld (Raising Arizona) trades black-and-white chiaroscuro for neon signs and jukebox colors that combine with a haunting score by Carter Burwell (Barton Fink) to lurid and thrilling effect.

Blending elements from pulp fiction and low-budget horror flicks, Blood Simple reinvented the film noir for a new generation and marked the arrival of a filmmaking ensemble that would help to transform the American independent cinema scene in the 1980s.

Blood Simple
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya (Actors)
  • Joel Coen (Director) - Joel Coen;Ethan Coen (Writer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Burn After Reading (2008)

An all-star cast, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and John Malkovich, come together in this outrageous spy comedy about murder, blackmail, sex addiction, and physical fitness!

When a disc filled with some of the CIA’s most irrelevant secrets gets in the hands of two determined, but dim-witted, gym employees, the duo are intent on exploiting their find.

But since blackmail is a trade better left for the experts, events soon spiral out of everyone’s and anyone’s control, resulting in a non-stop series of hilarious encounters!

From Joel and Ethan Coen, the Academy Award-winning directors of No Country For Old Men and The Big Lebowski comes this brilliantly clever and endlessly entertaining movie that critics are calling, “smart, funny, and original” (Ben Lyons, E!).

After the dark brilliance of No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading may seem like a trifle, but few filmmakers elevate the trivial to art quite like Joel and Ethan Coen.

Inspired by Stansfield Turner’s Burn Before Reading, the comically convoluted plot clicks into gear when the CIA gives analyst Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) the boot.

Little does Cox know his wife, Katie (Tilda Swinton, riffing on her Michael Clayton character), is seeing married federal marshal Harry (George Clooney, Swinton’s Clayton co-star, playing off his Syriana role). To get back at the Agency, Cox works on his memoirs.

Through a twist of fate, fitness club workers Linda (Frances McDormand) and Chad (Brad Pitt in a pompadour that recalls Johnny Suede) find the disc and try to wrangle a “Samaritan tax” out of the surly alcoholic.

An avid Internet dater, Linda plans to use the money for plastic surgery, oblivious that her manager, Ted (The Visitor’s Richard Jenkins), likes her just the way she is.

Though it sounds like a Beltway remake of The Big Lebowski, the Coen entry it most closely resembles, this time the brothers concentrate their energies on the myriad insecurities endemic to the mid-life crisis–with the exception of Chad, who’s too dense to share such concerns, leading to the funniest performance of Pitt’s career.

If Lebowski represented the Coen’s unique approach to film noir, Burn sees them putting their irresistibly absurdist stamp on paranoid thrillers from Enemy of the State to The Bourne Identity. –Kathleen C. Fennessy

Burn After Reading
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich (Actors)
  • Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (Director) - Joel Coen (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

An ambitious but naive young man rapidly moves up the corporate ladder from the mailroom to the executive suite, unaware that he is part of the board of directors’ nefarious scheme.

Paul Newman, Tim Robbins, and Jennifer Jason Leigh star in filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen’s darkly comic look at big business.

When the founder of Hudsucker Industries leaps to his death from the 44th-floor boardroom window the board of directors panics.

But there is a plan: install a complete imbecile as president of the company and devalue the stock so the board can acquire a controlling interest for themselves.

But where can they find such a guileless patsy? Enter Norville Barnes. Fresh off the bus from Muncie, Indiana, as a graduate of the 1958 class of the Muncie College of Business Administration, Norville is ready to start at the bottom and work his way up to the top of the corporate world … he just never imagined it would happen so quickly.

Hudsucker Proxy
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman (Actors)
  • Joel Coen (Director) - Ethan Coen (Writer) - Ethan Coen (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Disenchanted with the daily drudge of crushing rocks on a prison farm in Mississippi, the dapper, silver-tongued Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney, THE PERFECT STORM) busts loose.

Except he’s still shackled to his own chain-mates from the chain gang — bad-tempered Pete (John Turturro, SUMMER OF SAM), and sweet, dimwitted Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson, HAMLET).

With nothing to lose and buried loot to regain — before it’s lost forever in a flood — the three embark on the adventure of a lifetime in this hilarious offbeat road picture.

Populated with strange characters, including a blind prophet, sexy sirens, and a one-eyed Bible salesman (John Goodman, COYOTE UGLY), it’s an odyssey filled with chases, close calls, near misses, and betrayal that will leave you laughing at every outrageous and surprising twist and turn.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson (Actors)
  • Joel Coen (Director) - Ethan Coen (Writer) - Ethan Coen (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Four-time Oscar-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo) write and direct Hail, Caesar!, an all-star comedy set during the latter years of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum, Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.

Hail, Caesar!
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich (Actors)
  • Joel Coen (Director) - Joel Coen (Writer) - Tim Bevan (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

True Grit (2010)

True Grit is a powerful story of vengeance and valor set in an unforgiving and unpredictable frontier where justice is simple and mercy is rare.

Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), is determined to avenge her father’s blood by capturing Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), the man who shot and killed him for two pieces of gold.

Just fourteen, she enlists the help of Rooster Cogburn (Academy Award® Winner Jeff Bridges), a one-eyed, trigger-happy U.S. Marshall with an affinity for drinking and hardened Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Academy Award® Winner Matt Damon) to track the fleeing Chaney.

Despite their differences, their ruthless determination leads them on a perilous adventure that can only have one outcome: retribution.

True Grit (2010)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin (Actors)
  • Joel Coen (Director) - Ethan Coen (Writer) - Ethan Coen (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

It’s comic gold as two of Hollywood’s most dazzling stars – George Clooney and Academy Award-winner Catherine Zeta-Jones – light up the screen in Intolerable Cruelty, a hilarious romantic comedy about men, women, and everything that can go wrong between them.

Sparks fly when brilliant divorce attorney Miles Massey (Clooney) meets his match in the beautiful but ruthless Marylin Rexroth (Zeta-Jones).

From Academy Award-winning directors Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (Fargo; O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Intolerable Cruelty also stars multi-talented Billy Bob Thornton and outrageous Cedric The Entertainer.

Intolerable Cruelty
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Bob Thornton (Actors)
  • Ethan Coen (Director) - Robert Ramsey (Writer) - Mike Lobell (Producer)
  • Spanish, English (Playback Language)
  • Spanish, English (Subtitles)

Raising Arizona (1987)

Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, and John Goodman lead an all-star cast in Ethan and Joel Coen’s celebrated comedy.

Once he decides to give up crime, a small-time robber (Cage) proposes to a pretty cop (Hunter). But when the newlyweds learn they can’t conceive a baby, they decide to steal one from a couple who seem to have one to spare – since they just had quintuplets! With its outrageous plot, fast-paced action, and even some wild pyrotechnics, Raising Arizona will forever have a place in the hearts of lovers – and film lovers – everywhere.

Blood Simple made it clear that the cinematically precocious Coen brothers (writer-director Joel and writer-producer Ethan) were gifted filmmakers to watch out for.

But it was the outrageously farcical Raising Arizona that announced the Coens’ darkly comedic audacity to the world.

It wasn’t widely seen when released in 1987, but its modest audience was vocally supportive, and this hyperactive comedy has since developed a large and loyal following.

It’s the story of “Ed” (for Edwina, played by Holly Hunter), a policewoman who falls in love with “Hi” (for H.I. McDonnough, played by Nicolas Cage) while she’s taking his mug shots.

She’s infertile and he’s a habitual robber of convenience stores, and their folksy marital bliss depends on settling down with a rug rat.

Unable to conceive, they kidnap one of the newsworthy quintuplets born to an unpainted-furniture huckster named Nathan Arizona (Trey Wilson), who quickly hires a Harley-riding mercenary (Randall “Tex” Cobb) to track the baby’s whereabouts.

What follows is a full-throttle comedy that defies description, fueled by the Coens’ lyrical redneck dialogue, the manic camerawork of future director Barry Sonnenfeld, and some of the most inventively comedic chase scenes ever filmed.

Some will dismiss the comedy for being recklessly over-the-top; others will love it for its clever mix of slapstick action, surreal fantasy, and homespun family values. One thing’s for sure–this is a Coen movie from start to finish, and that makes it undeniably unique. –Jeff Shannon

Raising Arizona
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, Trey Wilson (Actors)
  • Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (Director) - Ethan Coen (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Ladykillers (2004)

Academy Award(R)-winning Tom Hanks (Best Actor, FORREST GUMP, 1994; PHILADELPHIA, 1993) turns in a hilariously original performance in THE LADYKILLERS, the laugh-out-loud comedy that explodes with outrageous wit and slapstick humor from the Coen Brothers (O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?, FARGO).

Underneath Professor G.H. Dorr’s (Hanks) silver-tongued southern gentleman, his persona is a devious criminal who has assembled a motley gang of thieves to commit the heist of the century by tunneling through his churchgoing landlady’s root cellar to a casino’s vault of riches.

But these cons are far from pros.

As their scheme begins blowing up in their faces, their landlady smells a rat. And when she threatens to call the police, they figure they’ll just bump her off.

After all, how hard can that be? Wickedly funny from start to finish, it would be a crime to miss THE LADYKILLERS.

The Ladykillers
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans (Actors)
  • Joel Coen (Director) - Joel Coen (Writer) - Ethan Coen (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Best Coen Brothers Movies – Wrapping Up

So there you have it. The top Coen Brothers films. As you can see, he’s been responsible for some classics of cinema history and it’s clear to see why they’re considered all-time greats.

If you’re sitting down to watch one of these tonight, we envy you. You’re in for a real treat!

We hope this list of the best Coen Brothers movies has been helpful. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments section.