Continuing my countdown of every Coen Brothers movie…
#4. The Big Lebowski (1998)
(up one spot from previous ranking)
The Big Lebowski opened in 1998 to mixed critical reviews and mediocre box office returns. Following the Coens’ Oscar-winning Fargo, it was viewed by many as an uneven, infantile misstep.
Today, it is arguably the duo’s most beloved film, with devotees attending annual Lebowski Fests both in America and abroad.
Cinematographer Roger Deakins has been nominated for nine Academy Awards (including this year for True Grit) and he hasn’t won once.
Five of those nominations were for Coen Brothers films and he probably deserved to win every one of them. I’m hoping (and predicting, in this year’s Oscar pool) that he’ll finally take home the prize next month.
Every couple of years (and more often than that lately), the Coen Brothers release another film that cements their place among America’s finest and most consistent filmmakers. Recently, on the heels of 2007’s Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men, they released the hilarious screwball comedy Burn After Reading and last year’s brilliantly dark Book of Job-inspired A Serious Man.
In 2010, they return with True Grit, not so much a remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic, they say, but a more faithful adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel. Having neither seen the original film nor read Portis’ novel, I’m in a position to judge the Coens’ film simply on its own merits.
The verdict: it’s sublime.