Duke & The Movies

Film Criticism


Model videochat in Bucuresti Studio Videochat

videochat studio in Bucuresti Videochat

Written by: Sam Fragoso on July 14, 2011

July 14, 2011 | 49 comments | Featured, Old Format

The Coen Brother’s vs. David Fincher

With Harry Potter, perhaps the most lucrative franchise in cinematic history, coming to an end and millions of people waiting in anticipation, I figured it would be best to get my review out as soon as possible. Hopefully my decision was correct – flopping days and posts. Here’s the review.

However, there was no chance I would skip over my favorite weekly routine: battle of the directors. Last week our matchup was far more one sided than I would’ve hoped. We had George Lucas vs. Peter Jackson. The latter was chosen a considerable amount. Honestly, this was shocking. Is Star Wars not the ultimate Sci-fi essential you grew up with? For me it is .. and I was born in 1994? Perhaps it’s just my notion.

Before we go onto our discussion, I’d like to thank Courtney Small over at Big Thoughts From A Small Mind, who inspired this series in the first place. So, thank you Courtney – much appreciated.

This week I’ve picked two directors that if not deemed “fair” by my readers, I’ll be greatly disappointed. Here are some notes: Both have made Oscar nominated (and in some cases winning) films. Both have multiple films ranked in IMDB’s top #250. Both started working within 1984-1985. And both are without a doubt, respected and beloved by filmgoers and the film industry alike.

Note: Apparently there has been some confusion with the matchup presented this week. For every “Battle of Directors” you base your pick on their WHOLE body of work. Not just my 5 or ten examples. Thank you.

This week our matchup is The Coen Brother’s vs. David Fincher

A haunting portrait of a mass-murder in "No Country For Old Men"

5 Example Films from Joel & Ethan Coen:

No Country for Old Men


The Big Lebowski

Blood Simple

O Brother, Where Art Thou?


The unflinching masterpiece of last year, "The Social Network"

5 Example Films From David Fincher:

The Social Network


Fight Club

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

My vote: Though having seen a majority of Fincher’s work, I’d have to go with the Coen’s. Not only do they contain more films that could be considered *great*  - but Fargo is my favorite picture of the bunch. I’m looking forward to some of the lesser seen films by the Coen’s such as The Man Who Wasn’t There, Barton Fink, and Miller’s Crossing.

I think that just about does it everyone. I hope you enjoy this weekly edition of “Battle of the Directors”. Be sure to leave a comment on your thoughts on which director you prefer. I’ll be looking forward to it.

As always,

Be safe and make good choices


There are 49 comments for this post.

  1. Marshall on July 14, 2011 8:55 am

    I think Fincher is the more accessible director. The thing that, for me, gives him the edge is because he is willing to adapt his style to fit the genre whereas the Coens adapt the genre to fit their style.

    But according to Daniel Craig, “TGWTDT” is going to be SICK and twistedly violent. Awesome.

  2. Duke on July 14, 2011 8:57 am

    I think you put your finger right on the crucial subject Marshall. That’s exactly why I love the Coens. The re-invent every genre they dive into, that’s truly something special.

    Fincher is more “accessible”, though.

  3. Colin on July 14, 2011 8:58 am

    Coens, for me, despite a recent Fincher comeback. I’m afraid I didn’t like The Game or Benjamin Button at all, and I hate Fight Club with a passion, but Zodiac was such a great film for me, as was The Social Network. I only truly detest one Coens film (The Ladykillers) and am ambivalent about Barton Fink. The rest, I could watch at any moment on any day. They’re probably my favourite working directors.

  4. Duke on July 14, 2011 12:22 pm

    I really don’t care for “Raising Arizona”.

  5. Anna on July 14, 2011 12:34 pm

    I like both, but I’m for Fincher here because:

    1) Zodiac deepened my interest in criminology,

    2) Se7en scared the (bleep) out of me, and

    3) The Social Network is just ridiculously quotable. (“Did I adequately answer your condescending question?”, “I’m six five, two-twenty and there’s two of me.”)

  6. Duke on July 14, 2011 12:40 pm

    Cursing is allowed on Duke & The Movies Anna ;D

  7. Paolo on July 14, 2011 12:50 pm

    The Coens for me too. I’m usually into movies that feel like theatre, and I suppose Fincher’s The Social Network is the closest thing in any of those guys’ oeuvre. And despite Fincher’s accessibility, his moral standpoints make me feel more ambivalent. The Coens are totes esoteric but their films are lovely, warm and humourous. Can’t beat that.

  8. Duke on July 14, 2011 1:01 pm

    I wouldn’t call “No Country for Old Men” warm haha.

  9. James Blake Ewing on July 14, 2011 1:12 pm

    Easily Coens. Fincher may be the better technical filmmaker, but Coens have more personality and soul in their films. I admire Sev7n for it’s craftmanship, but it’s always an empty, cold viewing experience for me that leaves me lacking, where even the more cynical Coen films leave me delighted afterwards because of the spirit and wit of the Coen bros.

  10. Duke on July 14, 2011 1:16 pm

    Very true … I didn’t really like “Se7en” all that much for the same reason you mentioned, it just left me cold.

  11. Rodney on July 14, 2011 2:04 pm

    Oh oh oh….. I can’t choose, dammit, I can’t choose!!!!

    Fincher did Se7en, but the Cohens did O Brother Where Art Thou…. Panic Room vs Big Leboswki…

    Arrrghhh, nope, I enjoy both equally, although for different reasons.

    Although I think James Ewing above nailed it when he said that Fincher is the better technical filmmaker, while the Cohens have more heart and soul. An excellent summation of our choice here today.

  12. Duke on July 14, 2011 2:12 pm

    You must choose Rodney!

  13. Tom Clift on July 14, 2011 5:12 pm

    Ahhhh this is tough. I think I like Fincher’s films fractionally more, but with the Coen’s you have so much more to choose from. I guess I’ll pick Fincher…but it breaks my heart to do so

  14. Duke on July 14, 2011 5:20 pm

    I’m sorry your heart has been broken.

  15. Castor on July 14, 2011 5:26 pm

    I would go with the Coen’s. Loved No Country for Old Men and really liked True Grit. Wasn’t a huge fan of A Serious Man but still understood what they were trying to achieve. Fincher is great but I absolutely loathed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. There was a good 100 minute movie in there…

  16. Duke on July 14, 2011 5:39 pm

    No “Fargo” love from you?

  17. Castor on July 14, 2011 6:57 pm

    No. :x

  18. Duke on July 14, 2011 8:35 pm

    Wow? Care to elaborate?

  19. James on July 14, 2011 9:08 pm

    Sam —

    I would sub “Miller’s Crossing” and “Barton FInk” — both of which I thought were great — for “Lebowski” and “Brother,” both good but flawed movies. With those changes, I’d give the victory to the Coens. You MUST see “Barton Fink” and “Miller’s Crossing” if you haven’t yet.

    But if you insist on comparing the five films listed, the decision goes to Fincher, who has shown he came make every genre of film with style, fierce intelligence and originality.

  20. Duke on July 14, 2011 9:10 pm

    I’m not saying make your pick based on the 5 films I’ve mentioned …. those are just their notable.

  21. Kevyn Knox on July 14, 2011 9:26 pm

    A good battle indeed. In the end I would have to go with Fincher. The Social Network and Zodiac are both brilliant and would both be set above the Coens’ best film, No Country For Old Men. Definitely tough battle though.

  22. Duke on July 14, 2011 9:51 pm

    Apparently people are agreeing with your side Kevyn

  23. Andrew Buckle on July 14, 2011 10:23 pm

    Oh this is tough. I love both the Coens and Fincher. I’m going to have to go with Fincher here. Se7en, The Social Network, Fight Club and Zodiac are all outstanding films, with Se7en being a personal favourite. The Coens have more films in their body of work, with Fargo, No Country, The Big Lebowski and Miller’s Crossing being my favourite. But I love Fincher’s style, so I’ll go with him.

  24. Duke on July 14, 2011 10:24 pm

    I need to see “Zodiac”

  25. Paolo on July 14, 2011 11:13 pm

    NCFOM is so funny the second time around. Also, you do need to see Zodiac. It’s Fincher’s best, just because the characters there aren’t moral metaphors.

  26. Duke on July 14, 2011 11:27 pm

    I do indeed. So which director do you prefer?

  27. Custard on July 15, 2011 1:17 am

    Oh Jeez.

    This is a doozy.

    I love them both. IN fact they both have films in my all time top 5.

    I don’t know Sam. I am going to sit on the fence I am afraid. Thanks for the great post!

  28. Duke on July 15, 2011 1:21 am

    No Custard!

    The world needs your pick :D

  29. Rodney on July 15, 2011 2:03 am

    Okay, okay. I give in. I flipped a coin and best-of-three gave me Fincher.

    My money picks Fincher. I, however, can’t pick between them.

  30. Duke on July 15, 2011 2:26 am

    There you go!

  31. blah blah blah toby on July 15, 2011 5:25 am

    missed last weeks debate. sorry. even though i dont like any of jacksons movies he’s a better director than lucas because lucas isn’t really a director. as for this week…..

    i used to claim fincher as my favourite director, whether it’s me or him changing i’m not sure but i really haven’t cared much for his recent output (especially button) whereas the coens just keep on going. as marshall said in the very first comment fincher is changable whereas the coens have a vision and they make any story a coen story. a comedy noir about bowlers? check. a classic noir about a barber who’s obsessed with a lolita type? check. a screwball comedy that makes even catherine zeta jones partially acceptable? check.

    go coens go coens go!

  32. Duke on July 15, 2011 5:38 am

    You don’t like The Social Network?

  33. Anna on July 15, 2011 6:32 am

    Fincher is really really overrated. Love the Coen brothers, so my heart is all out for them.

  34. Anna on July 15, 2011 6:33 am

    I’m totally kidding. This might just be the hardest match-up yet. I’m not going to pick.

  35. Duke on July 15, 2011 6:34 am

    Why can’t anyone pick on this one! Haha

  36. Nikhat on July 15, 2011 6:51 am

    Oh Fincher all the way! While Se7en and Social Network and Zodiac are brilliant films, only a handful of films have impacted me like Fight Club, and none of them are by the Coens.

  37. Duke on July 15, 2011 2:07 pm

    Ahh, alright. I’m still torn over “Fight Club” … seen it twice .. and I’m not sure if it’s a masterpiece or a piece of shit.

  38. CS on July 16, 2011 5:51 am

    Coen Brothers for me. I like how they really try to have each film, and the characters within it, have a unique voice. Fincher is great but, if I have to pick one, I am going Coens.

  39. Duke on July 16, 2011 2:53 pm

    Agreed. Good pick CS.

  40. Everybody’s Talkin’ 7-15 (Chatter from Other Bloggers) | The Matinee on July 16, 2011 10:34 pm

    [...] A gent who links to me pretty much weekly is young Duke. He’s got a lot going on over at his site, and if you aren’t reading his work already, you should be. For funsies, he has sparked the argument over who one would take if only one could survive: David Fincher or The Coen Brothers? [...]

  41. Weekend Update – July 17, 2011 « Marshall and the Movies on July 17, 2011 8:28 pm

    [...] Sam Fragoso of “Duke and the Movies” has a death match set-up between David Fincher and ….  I sided with the former, who I dedicated an entire week to on my blog, but the conversation is very interesting indeed.  Definitely worth pondering. And in case you thought I was the only one talking about Harry Potter, think again: [...]

  42. blah blah blah toby on July 19, 2011 3:16 am

    nope, it was ok but it wasn’t as good as everyone says it was in my opinion. ben button was awfully dull and really quite dumb. my fave finchers were the early ones, alien 3 was my favourite alien movie for a long time. the game is so much fun. as i said he was my favourite director for a long time but i just find him more and more meh. maybe his projects are just not of interest to me as i become an old man.

    i know true grit received mixed reviews too but for me it was right up there with no country, one of those films that leaves you exhilirated to have just sat through. the coens give me that feeling more often than not. theres still time for fincher to redeem himself, he is a supremely talented man obviously and lets see what his next few films bring, hope for a return to form.

  43. Vik V. on July 19, 2011 12:19 pm

    As much as I love David Fincher (Fight Club being one of my all-time favourite movies), I’d go for the Coen brothers. The Big Lebowski is, in my opinion, the best comedy ever made. Not to mention their other greats (A Serious Man, No Country For Old Men, Fargo being some of my favourites).

  44. Duke on July 19, 2011 4:45 pm

    I’m actually not the biggest fans of the “Big Lebowski” … need the re-watch it, though.

  45. Everybody’s Talkin’ 7 – 15 (Chatter from Other Bloggers) | The Matinee on July 19, 2011 10:23 pm

    [...] A gent who links to me pretty much weekly is young Duke. He’s got a lot going on over at his site, and if you aren’t reading his work already, you should be. For funsies, he has sparked the argument over who one would take if only one could survive: David Fincher or The Coen Brothers? [...]

  46. Jan Meyers on July 21, 2011 6:16 pm

    Much as I really liked “Social Network” and “Seven”(very scary), I will have to agree with you on the Coen Bros. I really like dark humor and they are the experts when it comes to that. I loved Fargo, and laugh just as hard every time I re-watch it. I really liked “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Tell me that is not a work of genius! Some think that the C.Bro’s are too predictable in their vision and direction. But, I just don’t agree. I think they are anything but, however they always put the
    Coen Style to good use and it is definitely recognizable.

  47. Duke on July 21, 2011 6:31 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly

  48. SDG on July 26, 2011 12:13 pm

    If you would have asked me this, few months ago, I would have said Coen Brothers without any doubt. I am still gonna go with Coen Brothers but that is just because sheer quantity than quality. They both have done many great films – Coen brothers just have more. Fincher has Social Network, Curious Case of, Se7en and Zodiac(I don’t understand whats so great about Fight Club and Alien) whereas Coen Brothers have No Coutry for Old Men, True Grit, Big Lebowski and O Brother(Not a big fan of Fargo, Burn After Reading was downright Silly)
    Though I do realise that I have many films to watch for Both the directors

  49. Duke on July 27, 2011 1:12 am

    Fincher did Aliens 3 … bad film. And I’d love to hear your reasoning behind Fargo

Write a Comment