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Ranking the 50 Best Coen Brothers' Character Names

By Caspar Salmon | Film | November 23, 2018 |

By Caspar Salmon | Film | November 23, 2018 |


50. Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney, Burn After Reading)
49. W.P Mayhew (John Mahoney, Barton Fink) — Good use of initials, and a lovely fit with a bowtie-wearing Mahoney.
48. Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand, Burn After Reading)
47. Al Cody (Adam Driver, Inside Llewyn Davis)
46. Baird Whitlock (George Clooney, Hail, Caesar!)
45. Knox Harrington (David Thewlis, The Big Lebowski) — …the video artist
44. Bernie Bernbaum (John Turturro, Miller’s Crossing)
43. Big Dave Brewster (James Gandolfini, The Man Who Wasn’t There)
42. Big Dan Teague (John Goodman, O Brother Where Art Thou?) — Good counter-naming here, with a bluff name that doesn’t prepare us for a complete psycho


41. Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum, Hail Caesar!)
40. Freddy Riedenschneider (Tony Shalhoub, The Man Who Wasn’t There)
39. Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins, The Hudsucker Proxy) — The Coens’ dumb names have grades of idiocy — compare this to, say, Burt Gurney, and you see the character’s goofy grandeur.
38. Marva Munson (Irma P. Hall, The Ladykillers)
37. Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man) — Casually excellent work with what only needs to be an everyman name.
36. Gus Petch (Cedric The Entertainer, Intolerable Cruelty)
35. C.C. Calhoun (France McDormand, Hail, Caesar!) — The precision of this one! A fine name for a no-nonsense female film editor in the 1940s.
34 Birdy Abundas (Scarlett Johansson, The Man Who Wasn’t There)
33. H.I. “Hi” McDunnough (Nicolas Cage, Raising Arizona)
32. Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich, Hail, Caesar!)
31. Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt, Burn After Reading)
30. Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hudsucker Proxy) — Quietly one of their best names, this plays on the character’s warring romanticism (Amy meaning ‘beloved’) and go-gettingness (the hunter) - but ‘archer’ itself has connotations of love. Great work, 10/10.


29. Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis)
28. Edwina “Ed” McDunnough (Holly Hunter, Raising Arizona) — Fine androgynous naming here — Holly Hunter is very much the boss in this.
27. Delmar O’Donnell (Tim Blake Nelson, O Brother Where Art Thou?)
26. Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy, Fargo)
25. Lump Hudson (Ryan Hurst, The Ladykillers)
24. Freddy Bender (Richard Jenkins, Intolerable Cruelty)
23. Rex Rexroth (George Clooney, Intolerable Cruelty)
22. Brandt (Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Big Lebowski)
21. Buster Scruggs (Tim Blake Nelson, Buster Scruggs)
20. Gawain MacSam (Marlon Wayans, The Ladykillers)
19. Lilian Gorfein (Robin Bartlett, Inside Llewyn Davis) — This may seem like a high ranking for this secondary character, but you really couldn’t come up with a better name for a well-meaning friend of your parents with whom you don’t want to spend the evening.
18. Garth Pancake (J.K. Simmons, The Ladykillers)


17. Creighton Tolliver (Jon Polito, The Man Who Wasn’t There)
16. Walter Sobchak (John Goodman, The Big Lebowski)
15. Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman, The Hudsucker Proxy)
14. Bunny Lebowski (Tara Reid, The Big Lebowski)
13. Pete Hogwallop (John Turturro, O Brother Where Art Thou?)
12. Gale Snoats (John Goodman, Raising Arizona)
11. Thora & Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton, Hail, Caesar!)
10. Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes, Hail, Caesar!)


9. Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara, The Big Lebowski)
8. Waring Hudsucker (Charles Durning, The Hudsucker Proxy)
7. Vernon T. Waldrip (Ray McKinnon, O Brother Where Art Thou?)
6. Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy (Jonathan Hadary, Intolerable Cruelty)
5. Barton Fink (John Turturro, Barton Fink)
4. Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed, A Serious Man)
3. Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand, Fargo)
2. Theodore ‘Donny’ Donald Kerabatsos (Steve Buscemi, The Big Lebowski) — The reveal of Donny’s full name is one of the greatest moments in cinema.
1. Uli Kunkel/Karl Hungus (Peter Stormare, The Big Lebowski)


Header Image Source: Working Title Films