1. "Fargo" - a Coen-directed detective thriller released in 1994 that earned the duo attention from mainstream audiences. "Fargo", with its dark, comedic style woven into a complex detective thriller, changed the movie-going public's ideas about film. The film also paved the way for indie-style movies to cross over into mainstream.
"Fargo" brought film noir to the public in a way that had not been witnessed in recent years and almost single handedly recreated the genre. Even though the Coens are the only directors that have taken full advantage of noir-style film, "Fargo" is still a milestone if for no other reason than making the duo known.
2. If not for the Coen brothers, the world of film might have had to wait many more years for the debut of one of the top female character actors in the business today. Frances McDormand made her screen debut in the film "Blood Simple," which was also the directorial debut of the Coen brothers. McDormand went on to win her first and only Oscar as - you betcha - the quirky female detective, Marge Gunderson, in "Fargo." McDormand is also tied to the Coens by more than her roles in their films. After meeting Joel Coen on the set of "Blood Simple," the two married the same year.
3. The Coens should be commended for keeping one of the most underrated actors in the business in a job. John Goodman would probably have faded into oblivion with Rosanne if not for his roles in Coen brothers films. Goodman became part of the Coen legacy in the 1987 release "Raising Arizona" and has accompanied the duo for many more films. Goodman has been an intricate part of two Coen masterpieces - "Barton Fink" and "The Big Lebowski" - while also making memorable cameos in "The Hudsucker Proxy" and "O' Brother Where Art Thou?"
4. All the American country music fans that were in the closet before the millennium need to fiddle a few tunes in honor of the Coens. Granted folk music has always had a legitimate following, but the genre would have never topped the Billboard charts if not for the Coen's 2000 release, "O' Brother Where Art Thou?"
One thing that must be admired about the Coens: they pick a style for each film and do not deviate throughout. The duo decided to put a southern twist on one of Homer's epics, paving the way for a phenomenal roots-music soundtrack - ages 10 to 70 have been jammin' to Ralph Stanley ever since.
5. "The Big Lebowski" should be an obvious reason, but the Beacon has already shown what "Lebowski" has taught college students. The default reason: the Coens write each of their characters with actors already in mind, which allows for witty dialogue, capturing each actor's nuances in the script. Actors seem to favor the idea as well, staying around for more than just one role (Goodman - five films with the Coens, John Turturro - four films, McDormand - four films and Steve Buscemi - five films).