Coen brothers bend rules straight to Oscar

Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:35pm EST
 
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - True to their reputation as Hollywood nonconformists, brothers Joel and Ethan Coen are bucking 80 years of Oscar tradition with a rare joint nomination for directing "No Country for Old Men."

Having swept the film honors of Hollywood's major talent guilds, including the Directors Guild of America, the Coen brothers are clear favorites to clinch the Academy Award for best direction when the Oscars are given out this Sunday.

They would become only the second pair of credited filmmakers to share a directing Oscar, following Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for the 1961 musical "West Side Story." Warren Beatty and Buck Henry also were nominated jointly for the 1978 fantasy "Heaven Can Wait" but did not win.

The support for "No Country" from Hollywood's guilds, which comprise a large and influential constituency of Oscar voters, also makes the Coens front-runners to win the best picture Oscar as producers on the film along with Scott Rudin.

Oscar wins for best picture or directing would give the ultimate seal of Hollywood appreciation for Joel, 53, and Ethan, 50, two auteurs who have built a loyal cult following as film industry outsiders.

"No Country" marks both a departure -- their first film based entirely on a novel -- and a return to form for the pair with its tale of highly idiosyncratic characters caught up in events unleashed by nefarious plans gone horribly wrong.

Blending and bending elements of the thriller and western genres, "No Country for Old Men" is a tale of fear, despair and moral decay wrapped in a terse and violent chase film. One of the Coens' darker offerings, it stands as their biggest commercial success, grossing more than $92 million worldwide.

POLISHING THEIR EGO   Continued...

 
<p>Ethan and Joel Coen on the set of "No Country for Old Men". True to their reputation as Hollywood nonconformists, the Coen brothers are bucking 80 years of Oscar tradition with a rare joint nomination for directing the film. REUTERS/Miramax Films/Handout</p>