For more than 30 years, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen – better known as the Coen Brothers – have created a number of quirky, singular titles spanning a variety of genres. They’ve also become industry and academy favorites, picking up four Oscar wins for writing, directing and producing. Celebrate this dynamic duo by taking a look back at all 18 of their films, ranked worst to best.
The Coens made their feature debut with the Southwestern neo-noir “Blood Simple” (1984). Shot on a shoestring budget with a then largely unknown cast (including Joel’s future wife, Frances McDormand), the film established the brothers’ talent for visually striking, wholly original stories.
They followed their breakout hit with a series of increasingly ambitious, wildly different features: the wacky Southern farce “Raising Arizona” (1987), the moody gangster saga “Millers Crossing” (1990), the bizarre Hollywood satire “Barton Fink” (1991), and the nostalgic screwball comedy “The Hudsucker Proxy” (1994).
It wasn’t until “Fargo” (1996), a comedic thriller about a pregnant police officer (McDormand) investigating a murder-kidnapping gone awry in Minnesota, that the brothers first came to the attention of Oscar voters. The film brought them their first victory in Best Original Screenplay, plus a Best Actress prize for McDormand. Additionally, the Coens competed in Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing (under the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes).
It took another 11 years for Joel and Ethan Coen to hit the Oscar jackpot, this time with the violent cat-and-mouse thriller “No Country for Old Men” (2007). The duo took home prizes for writing, directing, and producing the film.
The Academy has nominated the Coens nine additional times throughout their career: Best Adapted Screenplay for “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000); Best Film Editing for “No Country for Old Men” (2007); Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay for “A Serious Man” (2009); Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay for “True Grit” (2010); Best Original Screenplay for “Bridge of Spies” (2016); and Best Adapted Screenplay for “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” (2018).
Tour our photo gallery of all 18 Coen Brothers films, and see where your favorite ranks.