5 Coen Brothers Movies Performances That Really Tie The Film Together, plus one
Josh Brolin, True Grit
For most of this western opus, a US Marshal, a Texas Ranger and the spunky fourteen year old Mattie Ross try and track down the villainous Tom Chaney, the man responsible for killing Mattie’s father. Innumerable westerns have taught us to assume that Chaney is obligatorily vicious, requisitely unkillable, except when it comes to our heroes. But when we meet him, Brolin does a 180, playing the part like the filing cabinet of his mind is missing a lot of folders. Like, you know how there is speculation that mentally Billy the Kid wasn’t all there? Brolin plays that Billy the Kid.
Tara Reid, The Big Lebowski
Still, and probably forever, Tara Reid's singular silver screen moment, made famous by a single tawdry line that her scratchy voice turns into extraordinary Z-grade art.
Petra Boden, Fargo
She’s in a single scene, manning the cash register at the diner where Jerry Lundegaard, his father-in-law and Stan Grossman (who could appear in a different version of this list) have just held council. Upbeat to the nines, she ignores the distracted vibes emanating from Jerry to merrily ask how everything was. He offers a standard-issue reply followed by a rhetorical wondering of how she is. She doesn’t say anything because she doesn’t have to – she just improbably enlarges her grin like it’s literally her happiest day on Earth, which it probably is, until the next day.
Patrick Cranshaw, The Hudsucker Proxy
Most my age likely remember him as Blue, the ancient fraternity brother in “Old School”, but he’ll always he Ancient Sorter to me, the not-really-at-all apprentice to Norville Barnes’ first-day-on-the-job mail clerk. Every time I’ve dared to daydream about how I’ve got big ideas I’ve heard Cranshaw’s voice disinterestedly responding: “I’m sure you do.”
David Rasche, Burn After Reading
There’s an awful lotta plot happening in the Coens’ noirish screwball comedy, especially when the CIA finds itself involved in a myriad of strange goings-on involving a woman they don’t really know and that doesn’t really know as much as she claims to, and the few times when a Langley boss (J.K. Simmons) needs a briefing on all that what-have-you, it’s Rasche’s CIA officer Palmer who provides it. Really these sequences are un-essential because Rasche, with a laconic, Churchill-martini-dry voice, is merely explaining what has already happened. But then, that’s their innate beauty – the finer points of Central Intelligence bureaucracy rendered in Rasche’s poetical monotone “Ums” and “Uhs.”
Simon Helberg, A Serious Man
“Look at the parking lot, Larry.”