Monday, February 8, 2016

A Ranking of Every Clooney/Coen Brothers Films

George Clooney in Hail Caesar
This past weekend, directors Joel and Ethan Coen released their latest film Hail, Caesar! into theaters with an all star cast and an impressive love letter to classic cinema. It also marked the fourth collaboration with actor George Clooney, who ranks among the duo's best repeat offenders. With a collaboration record going back 16 years, they have definitely created some of the best farcical entertainment of the millennium. But which is the best of the bunch? The following is a ranking of their work together, which will hopefully have a few visitors in the years to come.

1. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

This is where it all started. With a soundtrack that popularized bluegrass for the next few years, the film's madcap look at The Great Depression is among the more odd and energetic films that The Coen Brothers have ever made. Based loosely on Homer's "The Odyssey," the film tracks three chain gang runaways as they look for a variety of things; only to run across cows, singing women, gangsters, and the KKK. If nothing else, this was the start of a perfect pairing between Clooney and The Coen Brothers that has thankfully continued to produce compelling work, even if nothing is arguably as successful.

2. Hail, Caesar! (2016)

The Coen Brothers' latest is also among their most ambitious collaboration with Clooney yet. While the film is ostensibly more about Josh Brolin's Eddie Mannix, George Clooney stars as an actor with a drinking problem who gets kidnapped by Communists. Unlike the other films, Clooney is more of a piece in an ensemble, with many other actors delivering far more intriguing performances. Still, his turn as an actor doing a prestige picture about Christ delivers a lot of great laughs and manages to remind us of how he can be charismatic and funny in equal doses. 

3. Burn After Reading (2008)

To some unfortunate extent, this is the black sheep of The Coen Brothers' "Idiot Trilogy" with Clooney. The film doesn't get much credit for its subversive take on spy films in which nothing really happens, but the paranoia results in some hilarious misconceptions. Clooney delivers one of the film's best performances in a film that features some dark humor residue from the previous year's Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men. It may not be the perfect film, but it's frankly one of the funniest that the duo have ever made with or without Clooney.

4. Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

While The Coen Brothers are arguably among the best filmmakers currently working, they are not without their occasional dud. Sadly, their second film with Clooney is possibly the worst of the bunch with a film that skewers romantic comedies and leaves little of value leftover. It comes during a lull period alongside The Ladykillers, which are both ambitious attempts at genre films, but fail to capture whatever it is that they are going for. Thankfully, 2 out of 17 is a pretty good ratio. As long as they don't doing anything this abrasive and off putting ever again, then maybe they will continue this Clooney winning streak.

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