At this point, the idea of a Coen brothers film not receiving strong critical acclaim and a straight shot to the Academy Awards would be more of a surprise than anything. Considering the Coen brothers’ remarkable film streak and the upcoming release of Hail, Caesar! next February, it’s as good a time as any to take a step back and look at the directing pair’s career. With 16 films under their belt as directors, here are the seven films that critics most often agree on when it comes to critical acclaim. Each of these seven films currently has an overall score of 90 percent or better on Rotten Tomatoes (Inside Llewyn Davis, the duo’s latest film is not included, but currently has a 94 percent Fresh score).
1. True Grit (2010) — 96 Percent Fresh
True Grit is based on Charles Portis’ western novel of the same name and sticks more closely to the source material than the 1969 adaptation starring John Wayne. The film tells the story of 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) as she joins up with an aging U.S. marshal (Jeff Bridges) and another lawman (Matt Damon) to track down her father’s killer in hostile territory.
True Grit, the Coen brothers’ most recent film before Inside Llewyn Davis was released on December 6, had near unanimous acclaim from critics and owns a 96 percent Fresh score from Rotten Tomatoes. Andrew O’Hehir of Salon said: “Some people are expressing amazement that Joel and Ethan Coen would set out to make a classic western in the first place, and then that they’d accomplish it. All I can say is that those folks haven’t been paying attention.” Dave Calhoun of Time Out wrote, “It could be the Coens’ most straightforward film, but it’s also one of their best,” awarding the film five out of five stars.