best film: Fargo Is currently my #1 ranked Coen brothers film and they are arguably the greatest auteurs in the world since their debut in 1984 (also McDormand’s debut) nearly 35 years ago. So, this is a towering achievement for both the Coen brothers and their leading lady/muse Frances McDormand.

best performance:  Fargo’s Marge Gunderson is an all-time character/performance that is so unique. She’s in a short film here (98 mins) and Marge doesn’t show up until about 30 minutes in. She doesn’t play a crazy woman, beauty icon, an alcoholic, a saint or martyr. She’s a relatively normal woman, loving, smart, and poised but during the course of her hour on screen McDormand carves out one of the best single performances of the 1990’s. It’s a major achievement for any actor or actress.

stylistic innovations/traits: The 1-2 punch of Fargo and Blood Simple (a strong physical performance more than verbal) puts her here but she has a total of 17 archiveable films and she’s nearly as good in her 8th best (maybe Raising Arizona with her superb few scenes) as she is in her 3rd so there’s tremendous depth here in her body of work. She’s a talented comedian but she’s not overly funny in Blood Simple, Mississippi Burning or many of her films so she’s diverse here as well.

directors worked with: (7) Coen and one with Wes Anderson.  Being married to Joel Coen doesn’t hurt but I think you could argue the brother auteurs are equally lucky to have met and married such a unique acting talent and clear life-force.

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Fargo
  2. Blood Simple
  3. Almost Famous
  4. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
  5. Mississippi Burning

Archiveable films

1984- Blood Simple
1987- Raising Arizona
1988- Mississippi Burning
1990- Hidden Agenda
1990- Miller’s Crossings
1993- Short Cuts
1996- Fargo
1996- Lone Star
1996- Primal Fear
2000- Almost Famous
2000- Wonder Boys
2001- The Man Who Wasn’t There
2006- Friends With Money
2008 Burn After Reading
2012- Moonrise Kingdom
2016- Hail, Caesar!
2017- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri