In the era of big budgets and special effects, very few filmmakers have been able to achieve both artistic and box office success while maintaining their individuality as artists. The Coen Brothers, Ethan and Joel, are one of the exceptions. Their films cover a wide range, from wild comedy to heart-stopping thrillers, but all show their unique style.

In July, Friday Night Flicks will present four of their best films including one Academy Award winner for Best Picture. All Friday Night Flicks are presented free of charge at 7 p.m. in the Abbott Room at the Belfast Free Library, 106 High St.

The month starts with “Fargo” on July 9. Is “Fargo” a gripping thriller or a devious dark comedy? Critics could not make up their minds on its release in 1996, but gave it almost universal raves. Joel’s wife, Frances McDormand, won an Oscar for her performance as a small town police chief confronted by a brutal crime. William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi, veterans of several Coen films, also star.

A box office flop on its initial release, “The Big Lebowski” went on the become one of the most popular cult films of the nineties. In this modern twist of film noir, Jeff Bridges gives a hilarious performance as “The Dude,” an L.A. stoner swept up into a tangle of conspiracies.  The weirdly engaging film will be shown on July 16.

On July 23, George Clooney stars in the offbeat comedy “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” The Coens took the plot of “The Odyssey,” transported it to Mississippi during the Great Depression, added in some 1930s screwball comedy and a large helping of old-time country music and came up with one of their biggest hits.

The final offering will be “No Country For Old Men” on July 30. With this movie, the brothers won a rare hat trick of Oscars in 2007, taking home the prizes for Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Adapted Screenplay. In addition, Javier Bardem was named Best Supporting Actor for his role as the most chilling movie villain since Hannibal Lecter. The film was adapted from the novel by Cormac McCarthy and also stars Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to