It changes from time to time but I think, at least for the last 2 years or so, that this is the Coen brothers’ best work
People who think this film launched their career into another stratosphere are exaggerating a bit- I mean their previous film starred Paul Newman.
It’s simply one of the 5 best screenplays of the 90’s
The Coens have created some of cinema’s greatest characters—Lebowski is right there- but I don’t think it gets better than their creation and construction of Frances McDormand’s Marge Gunderson
It’s a black comic crime genre spectacle and iconoclastically “Coen”—brazen
It may also be Carter Burwell’s greatest achievement with the film score—it’s unique- but it builds and rolls over the top like Bernard Herrmann’s Taxi Driver score
Period and location details- not just the accents by a long stretch but mise-en-scene for sure- scrapping the car off, the clothes, the hair, but make no mistake about it- the coens are in love with this unique vernacular… but there’s more– tonight show in bed, cheesy picture at the car dealership, macy’s wife with her voice inflections
Intro to Marge at 33 min in—pregnant, ducks from John Carroll Lynch (how about him showing range as the loving husband here in 1996 and the sociopath in zodiac in 2007?)— its rich character building through cinema
Everything is properly (such economy- this thing is 98 minutes) built formally in the screenplay- the big real estate fight between Macy’s weasel and Harve Presnell’s bully is laying the framework for the same thing happening with the kidnapping/random
Form in the screenplay “little guy” and “kind of funny looking” repetition. Talking weather and mannerisms in Midwestern politeness
The coen’s clearly have an admiration and love for Marge. She is very good at her police work
As much as we talk about McDormand—and rightly so—I think it’s the shining moment for Macy without a doubt and Buscemi is only arguable in reservoir dogs but I’d take him here
What smacked me in the face with this viewing (probably about #10) is the stunningly gorgeous reoccurring shots of snow-filled parking lots and that fence scene. It’s architecture as character and not something I see much in the coen’s filmography. It blew me away
A strong meditation on greed, chance/fate—“there’s more to life than a little bit of money. Don’t you know that?”- that’s the real ending in the car. Should have been it.
One of the 100 Greatest Movies Ever Made
John carroll lynch (the zodiac killer) I think gave the best performance in this film as mcdormand’s painter husband. I absolutely love the coen Brothers but not this film. Part of it are the annoying accents and Canadian stereotypes I can’t get past. Another thing I don’t like is how it feels needlessly violent. They never show what happens to the son when his dad gets arrested and i thought they should of had more of a moral reckoning. Don’t get me wrong the snow shots are amazing and I respect people’s love for it. Buscemi is also very good. I prefer raising Arizona from the previous decade. I think it is more fun and a more humane film. The scene where Cage steals the diapers and runs with the yodeling gets me choked up. Great film. Do you like raising arizona?
The more times watching Fargo the better the Macy performance gets, does anyone play a pathetic schmuck better? Literally every move he makes just ends blowing up in his face and he is utterly powerless in stopping the avalanche of problems resulting from his initial decision to hire the kidnappers.
I love the way he says “no this is my deal” when speaking to his father in law, Wade, (exceptionally played by Harve Presnell) and the father in laws business partner, Stan Grossman about who should deal with the kidnappers. Great formal touch the way Jerry loses the right to deal directly with the kidnappers in the exact same way he loses out on his real estate deal to Wade.
the scene setting off the violence when Buscemi and Peter Stormare are pulled over by a state trooper is riveting with suspense no matter how many time I’ve seen it
No one getting the money at the end is so Coen Brothers, characters destroyed by greed like Buscemi who could have walked away and recovered all that cash but can’t let go a petty dispute over who gets the car
If this film has flaws I don’t know what they are
filled with great quotes although by favorite will always be “he’s fleeing the interview he’s fleeing the interview!”
Would it be crazy to suggest William H Macy gives the best performance? Obviously I won’t argue back against Frances McDormand’s performance but its razor thin close to me. I will admit McDormand’s character is more memorable and quite unique. As for Macy it might be the greatest portrayal of an inept criminal that I have ever seen. I love the way every move he makes just blows up in his face. I love the phone call scene with the fake out, its actually Jerry preparking his phone call to his father in law, there’s a similar scene in Breaking Bad with Walter White. The scene where Jerry gets chewed out by a client over the Truecoat, at one point he looks down straight at the ground with a look of shame he is truly a pathetic character.
@James Trapp- You make a strong case here! – I do think Macy, McDormand and Buscemi all deserve some love and gave them all mentions on the 1996 page.
In Season 3 of Fargo the TV Show Ewan McGregor brilliantly plays the 2 lead characters, twin brothers engaged in a feud that serves as the seasons main storyline.
While it has nothing to do with the film I am curious what are of the best examples of this in movies? Peter Sellers in Doctor Strangelove playing 3 roles would have to be the ultimate example right?
Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers, Irene Jacob in The Double Life of Veronique, and Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy are the big ones that immediately come to mind.
@James – Twin Peaks: The Return has Kyle Maclaughen playing three different versions of himself to absolutely brilliant affect.
@James Trapp- Having no Jeremy Irons from Dead Ringers here (unless I missed it) makes me suspect of the whole thing- but some others here – Alec Guinness was known for this type of role, and then Peter Sellers started doing this same thing often- sort of showing off their comedic range. https://www.newsweek.com/actors-who-played-multiple-roles-movies-vanessa-hudgens-tom-hanks-1612886. Just about every actor in Cloud Atlas does this type of role. And @DeclanG does a great job here with some others
Would you recommend the Fargo TV show? The film is one of my favorites btw
I still need to see Double Life of Veronique but Dead Ringers and Enemy are great examples. Paul Dano played 2 roles in There Will Be Blood, his performances seem to have mixed opinions, I think I liked his performance more than most but agree that perhaps another actor should have played Eli
I think he is fine. But after watching Jesse James for the first time a couple of months ago, i can’t help but think that Casey Affleck would have been 10/10, absolutely perfect casting.
Having said this, @Drake any clue where Affleck would have landed on the top 100 of he gave an incredible performance in TWWB? Holding your own against DDL as Plainview, in THIS strong of a film is surely the ultimate resume booster. Devastating we didn’t get this
Sorry for another double comment. but I forgot to mention that this is just a hypothetical. I think it’s possible that quite literally no actor could “hold their own” with DDL as Plainview. It’s a behemoth performance, his character is such a wrecking ball that I don’t even know that if it is in the cards for any actor to even be able to stand up to him
@Matthew – I love this casting idea – great work. I mean I’d have to really sit down and think about it for Casey’s career and ranking but a juicy role in a film this good just does not come along often so I would think he would skyrocket up this list.