Today! Because I’m not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work, there, Lou –
Directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (x3)
Starring Frances McDormand (x2), William H. Macy (x2), Steve Buscemi (x2), Peter Stormare, John Carroll Lynch (x3), Harve Presnell (x2), Kristin Rudrud, Steve Reevis
I was well on board with the Coens by 1996 – even if it had been a few years since a really strong outing. The Hudsucker Proxy is weird fun and Barton Fink is surrealistic madness, but prior to those we got Miller’s Crossing, Raising Arizona, and Blood Simple – a pretty range-y group of movies sharing some bits of that Coen sensibility we’d all come to know and love. But I’d venture the majority of viewers didn’t really get into the Coens until they made Fargo, which kicked off arguably their best period of filmmaking, in tight competition with the last decade’s output of No Country For Old Men, True Grit, A Serious Man, and Inside Llewyn Davis.
In addition to ultimately spawning the excellent FX inspired-by TV show, Fargo provided instantly iconic characters and moments, superseded in the Coen canon only (probably) by their next film, The Big Lebowski. Between Frances McDormand’s pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson and William H. Macy’s bitter, inept criminal plotter Jerry Lundegaard and the case of loot buried in the snow and the wood chipper, this movie finally brought the brothers around to the full-on pseudo-comic mayhem and violence their earlier movies hinted at. And while it wasn’t exactly a box office hit – they didn’t really have any hits per se, until No Country won Best Picture and cracked $50 million for the brothers – it was the awards darling that had long eluded them, and a massive cult favorite.