Miller’s Crossing and Barton Fink are the two Coen brothers movies you most need to see next. They’re “serious” Coen, like Fargo, not “wacky hijinx” Coen like O Brother and Raising Arizona. Wonderful films, both. Gabriel Byrne in MC rocks my world, hard.
Blood Simple is good, but I’ve never been able to fully get into it. Probably just need to watch it more. All the Coen brother movies benefit immeasurably from repeated viewing. (Especially The Big Lebowski, btw. I firmly believe that anyone who says they don’t like it simply hasn’t seen it enough.) If you get the DVD, be sure to check out the commentary track. Hilarious.
Intolerable Cruelty, Hudsucker Proxy, and The Ladykillers are all inferior works. IC is probably the worst of the lot, but even it has its moments. HP exemplifies the most common criticism of Joel and Ethan, which is that their movies are all flash and no substance. I don’t buy that in general, but it very much applies to this movie. Still, it’s got gobs and gobs of style, and is enjoyable on that level alone. Ladykillers is a remake, and like most remakes, you’re better off just seeing the original. Although Tom Hanks is a hoot in this one.
Lastly, can you expand on why you view John Goodman so negatively? I can understand not liking The Big Lebowski, but not liking John Goodman is like not liking puppies and sunshine. It makes no sense, and I get dizzy if I try to think about it too much.