Fake Criterion Covers of Coen Brother Films

Gentle readers, today marks the end of an era. A year and a half ago, I discovered that people everywhere were creating fake Criterion covers for various non-Criterion films. There was some amazing artwork out there (along with some really crappy stuff), and I wanted to hop in the game. Since then, I’ve created several of my own. However, after a year and a half, lots of people are doing it now. It feels like it’s become played out, or jumped the proverbial shark. And many people are doing it quite a bit better than yours truly. So short of a very specific reason to jump back in, I’m hanging up the fake Criterion covers after this entry. That said, I have one more article in me–today’s article, featuring fake Criterion covers of Coen brother films. Without further ado…

I had two in my head for Barton Fink (1991). Here they are:

The image used here comes from the cover of the first edition of Charles Portis’ book, True Grit. Forgive me for borrowing but it seemed to jive well with the style of covers you’d see from Criterion.


21 Comments

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21 responses to “Fake Criterion Covers of Coen Brother Films

  1. Love, love, love these. I’m especially a fan of the Blood Simple Criterion Cover. Great idea using the neon lettering.

    • Thanks! That’s the one I feel could use the most improvement… but I only have Photoshop at home (no Illustrator), and Illustrator has the better neon effect.

      (sorry, it’s the graphic designer in me to critique my own work)

  2. Those are great! Particularly cool-ass is the “Raising Arizona” cover.

  3. Great! You should send them your propositions! I also really liked the Blood Simple and the Raising Arizona!

  4. Just fantastic. These are some of the best I’ve seen. I’m going to miss your Criterion covers. Both Barton Fink ones are brilliant.

    • The wallpaper one is my fave. And really, that film is easy to find elements to use in something like this- the wallpaper, the postcard, the fire scene, the screenplay idea, the box, etc…

  5. The guy who met Kevin Meany

    Based on your Criterion covers, I think I’m getting the hang of what constitutes a Criterion cover. The great thing about fake Criterion covers is that there are really a lot of ways you could go for each Coen Brothers movie. If I were to dream up a Lebowski one, I might have it be the rug that tied the room together similar to the Barton Fink wallpaper. I like your Raising Arizona one–showing the ridiculous sideburns and the mugshot height indicator.

    • Yeah, you get a lot of tight-cropped facial closeups:



      The Fargo one (and to a lesser degree, the Barton Fink/screenplay version) are a nod of the cap to this one for Last Year at Marienbad, which works so well with Fargo because the whole movie is snowed out:

      Tight close-ups in general of specific movie elements, which is where I was going with Lebowski:



      And then they’ll have original artwork, which I don’t quite have the time to make. But, that’s why I borrowed the True Grit book cover.

    • A year ago or so, I did another one for Lebowski using the rug (and The Dude listening to positive bowling affirmations):

  6. Fantastic covers as usual, sir. It does seem that there are a lot of fake Criterions these days, but you still have a knack for delivering the goods. Especially like the one for A Serious Man.

  7. Ahaha The Big Lebowski one is awesome! I’d love to see those being real covers 😀

  8. f

    imo, these suck ass

    the typography is shit,
    specially the first barton fink’s
    and true grit
    criterion always pays very close attention to the text, it’s subtle but usually the most striking thing about the cover. you totally halfassed it, might as well have used comic sans

    the design doesn’t look very much like criterion covers, they look like powerpoint 2007 themes. look at the first one, that generic business line would never be on a criterion dvd.

    and all the closeups are low resolution…
    plus they’re not very good choices

    like the big lebowski
    that doesn’t evoke any of feel of the movie. its not a reference to any motif, not related to any theme, its nothing iconic.
    same with serious man

    raising arizona is a better choice because it kind of captures the goofiness of the mc, with his messed up hair and hawaiin shirt, and you can kind of tell its one of those jail stand up line things. so you get the gist of the mc, a goofball criminal, but it still keeps the mystery, you don’t see the mc’s eyes, you can’t even tel the actor and that could easily be a doctor’s office or some shit which would completely change your perception of him.
    Also bonus points for being a recurring setpiece, though only for the first part of the movie. that was a better pick, not great, but a step up, and I understand it’s harder to find something to capture the movie well when you’re looking for a specific scene already in the film rather than creating your own image specifically for the cover.
    Too bad the design is terrible. the shot isn’t straight, when it really should be considering the coen brothers strict cinematography and set design, especially since it’d contrast with the character well. The bar with the title is distracted by the lines on the side, the text is bland as fuck and the color is totally drab. the c at the top looks odd mixing in with the black line.

    you picked the color scheme for the little criterion thing and the c in the corners too lazily for all of them.
    they don’t always just match whatever color dominates the cover. normally they wouldn’t be as distracting as they are. I think they’re bigger then they should be too.

    3/10 for effort

    i dont give a shit if everyone else is praising it, idk what they’re looking at or what their relation is to you, but i think that youd rather take honest criticism over vapid compliments any day, and if you wouldnt, then im happy to make you upset for being called shit.

    • I don’t particularly have any issues with the specific criticism. As you say, it’s honest. Where I take issue is with your gutless choice of anonymity and your snarky, horseshit tone. I would’ve welcomed the opportunity to discuss all of these things, and learn since you seem to know something about it, but instead you chose to be a jackass and hide. If you’re going to come here and act like a dick with Powerpoint and Comic Sans references, calling my images “shit” and “halfassed”, at least put your name to it.

      • f

        Why’s it matter what my name is?
        I’m not anonymous, i’m f.
        i couldve easily used a real-sounding fake name, but why would that change anything?
        or what if i gave you my real name, how would googling me and seeing the shit ive made change anything?

        whys it matter what my tone is?
        i couldve easily written it nice and cloy but why would that change anything?

        im sorry for not considering your feelings

  9. Dan

    Super work. I really like the Raising Arizona cover…I think it captures the Criterion style very well.

  10. Pingback: Blogging Community Highlights: 1/21 to 1/27 | The Warning Sign

  11. Stephen

    Like everyone else (except for that one guy) I thought these were great!
    Most of the fake Criterion covers all over the ‘net are of the “Criterion covers for films that will never be released by us” variety.
    You have chosen a canon of films that are up to the Criterion standard. So…that’s different.
    Now you need to make a cover for “No Country for Old Men.” Wow..what a great film!

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