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Fargo Movie Review

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Fargo was 1996's sentimental favorite, according to longtime admirers of the Coen brothers’ amazing body of work. From 1985's Blood Simple to 1987's Raising Arizona, from 1990's Miller's Crossing to 1991's Barton Fink, the Coen brothers have thrust their black comedies into the American consciousness in bold and inventive ways. The good-hearted police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) is exactly what we NEVER see in a crime saga. She's pregnant, she has morning sickness, she's hasn't a duplicitous bone in her body, and yet she matter-of-factly gets to work SOLVING things, and then goes home to cuddle with her husband. The kidnap scheme dreamed up by Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) is as screwed-up in the blueprint stage as it is in reality. The greedy kidnappers he hires are deadly serious, but bloody inept. Everything is played out against the snowy landscape of Minnesota, and even Harve Presnell (star of the ‘60s musicals The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Paint Your Wagon) puts in an appearance as the kidnap victim's father. Of all the top domestic indie releases of 1996, only Billy Bob Thornton's creation of Karl Childers in Sling Blade came anywhere near triggering the widespread adoption of catch phrases that Fargo's Police Chief Marge Gunderson did. Fargo may be based an actual events from 1987, but the Coen brothers have clearly taken the inspiration for their screenplay from bits and pieces of several crimes of the Midwest. You may want to see this one twice.

1996 (R) 97m/C William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Harve Presnell, Steve Reevis, John Carroll Lynch, Kristin Rudrud, Steve Park; Cameos:Jose Feliciano; D:Joel Coen; W: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen; C: Roger Deakins; M: Carter Burwell. Academy Awards ‘96: Best Actress (McDormand), Best Original Screenplay; Australian Film Institute ‘95: Best Foreign Film; Cannes Film Festival ‘96: Best Director (Coen); Independent Spirit Awards ‘97: Best Actor (Macy), Best Actress (McDormand), Best Cinematography, Best Director (Coen), Best Film, Best Screenplay; National Board of Review Awards ‘96: Best Actress (McDormand), Best Director (Coen); New York Film Critics Awards ‘96: Best Film; Screen Actors Guild Award ‘96: Best Actress (McDormand); Writers Guild of America ‘96: Best Original Screenplay; Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards ‘96: Best Actress (McDormand), Best Film; Nominations: Academy Awards ‘96: Best Cinematography, Best Director (Coen), Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Macy); British Academy Awards ‘96: Best Actress (McDormand), Best Director (Coen), Best Film, Best Original Screenplay; Cesar Awards ‘97: Best Foreign Film; Directors Guild of America Awards ‘96: Best Director (Coen); Golden Globe Awards ‘97: Best Actress—Musical/Comedy (McDormand), Best Director (Coen), Best Film—Musical/Comedy, Best Screenplay; MTV Movie Awards ‘97: Best On-Screen Duo (Peter Stormare/Steve Buscemi); Screen Actors Guild Award ‘96: Best Supporting Actor (Macy). VHS, LV, Closed Caption, DVD

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