FARGO (1996) C widescreen 98m dir: Joel Coen

w/Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Kristen Rudrud, Harve Presnell, John Carroll Lynch, Tony Denman, Gary Houston, Sally Wingert, Kurt Schweickhardt, Larissa Kokernot, Steve Park, Steven Reevis

From The Movie Guide: "The erratic Coen Brothers hit their stride again with this comically violent crime saga, set in the Great American Midwest and enlivened by its surprisingly sympathetic portraits of quirky, relentlessly cheery locals.

"In the icy heart of snow-blanketed Minnesota, a dumb-as-dirt car salesman (William H. Macy) hatches a plan to wipe out his personal debts. He'll hire a pair of small-time, out-of-town crooks (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife (Kristen Rudrud), then collect the ransom from her dad (Harve Presnell), a wealthy tightwad. Naturally, things go horribly wrong.

"Briskly plotted and filmed with surpassing competence, this snappy black comedy comes as a relief after a recent onslaught of less-than-inspired Tarantino imitations. With the exception of the brooding MILLER'S CROSSING, this may be the warmest movie the Coens have ever made. There's something unmistakably human beneath the oh-so-clever surface, and Frances McDormand's hugely pregnant local cop Marge Gunderson --- who waddles implacably from bloody crime scene to even bloodier crime scene --- radiates solid decency instead of the synthetic perkiness that too often passes for character. Granted, just about everyone here is a borderline moron with an annoying accent, but this isn't a case of big-city contempt for small-town mores: born and raised in Minnesota, the Coens know their targets well and generally hit them squarely."

FARGO won two Oscars: Best Actress (McDormand) and Original Screenplay ( Ethan Coen, Joel Coen). It was also nominated for Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (Macy), Cinematography (Roger Deakins), and Film Editing (Roderick Jaynes).