Since Joel and Ethan Coel arrived on the scene with Blood Simple, the duo has managed to stand out from the vast array of filmmakers due to their unique approach when it comes to tackling a mixture of genres that usually deals with darkly comedic situations and death. However, The Coen Brothers aren’t just synonymous with bloodshed and murder, the infamous duo is mainly known for their expert crafting of original and compelling stories. Throughout a good portion of the Coen Brothers filmography, plenty of deaths take place, and this list will highlight the top deaths in Joel and Ethan’s movies. The only films that count are the ones that feature both brothers on the project as a writer and director, so movies such as Suburbicon or Bridge of Spies are exempt. Let’s get started with the first name on the list:
This twisty noir thriller saw one of the biggest shocks in the feature, in which Private Detective Loren Visser double-cross the very man that hired him for the dirty job. It seemed like a calm evening between two shady criminals, but Visser gets the last laugh once he makes sure that Marty didn’t leave any breadcrumbs behind. However, Marty isn’t a dead man here, he’s just the backdrop to heighten the tension between Abby and Ray. Marty’s demise comes at the expense of being buried alive. The scene is packed with a huge amount of tension. There wasn’t much doubt on whether Ray would die or not here, but the question of whether he would get caught with Marty’s body was played to great effect. Ray burying Marty was actually quite sad. Sure, Marty was a controlling jerk, but to see him so helpless and screaming was definitely a haunting moment that’s hard to forget. John Getz was amazing during this tremendous scene, he clearly didn’t want to get caught up in this mess, but as soon as Marty tried to shoot him, but his tune may have not changed, but his demeanor sure did.
In the film that brought many eyes to the Coen Brothers, Fargo is a masterpiece not only due to the intriguing story, but the colorful characters that inhabit the world. Two of those characters are Carl Showalter and Gaear Grimsrud. One of the great things about Fargo is the time that the movies spends on the small-time crooks. It’s made clear that these guys aren’t exactly friends, just acquaintances. The entire scene in the car exemplifies both personalities and Gaear’s clear annoyance for Carl. So, when the big man charged over and brutally murdered him with an axe, it wasn’t much of a surprise. Carl clearly thinks he’s better than Gaear, and had no issues calling him an idiot and threatening him. However, the moment that truly standouts is when Marge finds Gaear, who’s putting Carls body through a woodchipper. The scene is equality absurd, over-the-top, and funny.
This alcoholic may have had good intentions when trying to help out Frank Ross outside of a pub; however, the coward ultimately shot and left Frank dead. Chaney is a different kind of antagonist, he isn’t a bruting badass or unstoppable killing machine, he’s mainly treated as a charming thief. He’s a cunning coward who noticeably has the physical advantage over Mattie Ross and does manage to get the better of Frank’s daughter on several occasions. However, when Mattie commands for Chaney to stand-up and shoots the bastard with all her might, it’s hard not to cheer for the death of the villain who’s causes so much pain to Ross and her family. Chaney’s death is easily the most satisfying on the list, The Coen Brothers don’t often pen clear heroes and villains, but in this case, the positions were made clear and the writing building up to that big moment was superb.
This one is easily the most shocking death on the list. No Country For Old Men is notable because it breaks genre conventions. Anton has been chasing Moss for the money, and usually, films like these see the hero triumph by killing the villain and riding off into the sunset. That wasn’t the case here. Moss is killed by a group of assassins, off screen. This showcased just how deep Moss’s situation was, plus it created an unpredictable and chaotic feeling that anything can happen. Moss didn’t get a tearful goodbye. Or one final heroic moment before his death. He was killed like some random Joe, and though his journey came to abrupt end, his death remains an important moment in cinema history.
Carla Jean Moss
This is easily the saddest death on the list. With Moss dead, that meant Carla Jean was an open target. Despite getting his money back, Anton still had some unfinished business in his mind and tried his usual coin trick with Carla Jean. However, Carla Jean pushes back by forcing Anton to make the decision himself. This was a powerful character moment as it was the first time that Anton had been confronted for his deplorable actions. The serial killer had a moral code that allowed for him to feel no remorse over his other crimes because it was left up to fate to decide his victim’s future. Take that away and Anton was forced to confront his own ugliness. We don’t see the actual murder of Carla Jean, but it’s strongly implied that Anton ultimately did kill the poor woman. Carla Jean Moss didn’t deserve to be dragged into this bloody mess, but she went out sticking to her guns.
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