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Every Coen Brothers Movie Ranked by How Awkward It Would Be to Watch at a Funeral

Joel and Ethan Coen have had a long career making terrific films that defy genre. And while most people do not play movies at a funeral at all (because it would be very strange), what if you wanted to? What if the deceased wanted you to pop on a DVD of Blood Simple? Well you could do that. And so, here’s a ranking of how awkward it would be to watch each Coen Brothers film at the celebration of the life of a loved one who has passed away.

#18 — Fargo (1996)

No one has ever been upset to be watching Fargo! Everyone’s gonna sit around the screen, laughing at the silly voices, and feeling a sense of community. It’s weird to watch ANY movie at a funeral…. maybe except Fargo. When I die, please play Fargo at my funeral. (That being said, I do not intend to ever die).

#17 — Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Hail, Caesar! got kind of a bad rap for some reason, but at the end of the day, if you’re gonna watch a Coens movie at a funeral, why not put on the one that just has a bunch of colors and choreographed dance scenes and isn’t entirely about everyone and everything you know dying horribly and alone? Right?

#16 — The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

If you simply must watch a Coen movie at a funeral, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a good choice. It’s (sometimes) a fun silly time and you can break it up into parts! Maybe you watch the first short, do a speech about the deceased, watch another short, cry a little, etc.

#15 — Raising Arizona (1987)

Watching a movie at a funeral is certainly awkward, but you really can’t go too wrong if you put on young sexy Nicolas Cage on the screen. If you don’t have Moonstruck laying around, I guess throw on Raising Arizona.

#14 — The Ladykillers (2004)

The Ladykillers is actually the only Coen Brothers movie I have never gotten around to watching. And you know what? I’m willing to bet that most other people at a funeral haven’t either! I know it has a reputation for not being their best, but if it’s a Coen movie, I’m sure it’s fine (not to mention, people aren’t exactly the best critic at a friggin funeral). So if I was at a funeral, and someone suggested throwing on The Ladykillers, I’d kinda be down. Sure, when the hell else am I gonna watch this?

#13 — The Big Lebowski (1996)

I absolutely would not be surprised if there are at least a few hundred people who have insisted that The Big Lebowski is played at their funeral. They probably also insisted that their friends attempt to pour their ashes out, only to have the wind blow the ashes back into everyone’s faces. The Big Lebowski is one of the first movies people based their entire personalities on, and honestly, I guess ultimately not the worst choice. Looking at you, The Room heads.

#12 — O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is basically just a sillier, more modern version of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, so maybe you could make some weird argument that this is like an ancient tome that connects all people or something like that and then just let everyone enjoy the sweet tunes of The Soggy Bottom Boys. I dunno! Try this and let me know if it works.

#11 — The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

Watching The Hudsucker Proxy on its own would not be that bad, but you cannot trust the person who would play this movie at an event that’s meant to be for mourning the loss of a friend or family member to NOT pass out hula hoops to everyone in the audience. And if you do that, it’s absolutely going to be a very strange time. Just put on the movie and let people watch it.

#10 — Blood Simple (1984)

The Coen Brothers’ first movie is a terrific film with an amazing soundtrack and great cinematography. It really is impressive how these guys made such a good movie right out of the gate! If I was at a funeral and someone wanted to throw on Blood Simple, I’d be like, damn OK I guess! Kind of an insane decision, and a pretty pretentious movie to put on the TV, but I guess most people won’t have seen it before and it’s a good time. 

#9 — Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

You’re the guy who keeps insisting that Intolerable Cruelty is lowkey underrated. You’re constantly trying to convince your friend group to watch it when everyone’s hanging out. I totally get that. But don’t be tempted to use the captive audience of a funeral to finally get everyone to check out this satirical rom-com starring George Clooney. It’s just not the time. I mean, come on, it’s not Blood Simple.

#8 — Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Miller’s Crossing is certainly a movie with a lot of death, which you may think would make for an awkward time at a funeral. And maybe it would! But the important thing here is that the deaths are all a result of gangsters making strategic errors during the Prohibition era. That’s a foreign enough concept that no one’s really going to associate it with the fact that grandpa choked to death on a lifesaver or whatever happened.

#7 — Burn After Reading (2008)

This one can go either way. If the person whose funeral it is died because they’re an idiot and were hiding in the closet of a CIA agent, who shot them in the face? This is going to be an extremely awkward movie. If they died any other way (illness, poison, hit by a bus), you’re probably in the clear. It’s always good for someone, at a funeral, to ask the audience: what did we learn from this?

#6 — Barton Fink (1991)

Barton Fink is a movie about a writer who, like all writers, is trapped in Hell. If the person who died was a writer (or Jewish), this might be a pretty awkward movie to throw on at a funeral — especially in the midst of the WGA strikes. But if they were like a successful businessman or something, then go for it, dog! Everyone might honestly get a kick out of it!

#? — Garfield: The Movie (2004)

NO. This is NOT a Coen Brothers movie!! It was written by Joel CoHen. H! We’re not even including Macbeth in here, why the hell would we include a movie written by a totally different guy?! DO NOT WATCH GARFIELD: THE MOVIE AT A FUNERAL.

#5 — No Country for Old Men (2007)

You probably don’t want to watch a movie about the looming specter of Death coming through a village and murdering people for no real reason at a funeral. I mean just imagine the shock if the priest got up to the podium, shifted around the little microphone, and said, “Alright, we’re gonna put on 2007’s No Country for Old Men. Everyone shut up. This is a really good movie. It’s kind of about The Devil.”

# 4 — True Grit (2010)

Like Tenet or In Bruges, True Grit is one of those movies that is in English, but you literally cannot watch without subtitles on. Unfortunately, despite being a great western film with deep themes, this is going to be one of the most difficult Coen Brothers movies to watch over the sound of sobbing friends and family. 

#3 — Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Inside Llewyn Davis is easily the least funny of any of the Coens films, therefore making it inherently a pretty awkward watch at a funeral. It’s really good, but also pretty damn sad. You could probably do just the Adam Driver scenes and have a good time, but most likely you’re going to bum everyone out as they think about how Llewyn Davis, and maybe the deceased, never really amounted to much in their lives.

#2 — The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)

Man, these guys really do have a ton of movies about the impending nature of death, huh? Yeah don’t watch this at a funeral. It’s going to bum everyone out. Also it’s in black and white and people are huge babies about that. They’re going to be upset you’re making them watch a movie while mourning a loved one and then it doesn’t even have color?!

#1 — A Serious Man (2009)

If you play this film for a group of people at a funeral, every single person in attendance will kill themselves.

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