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Inside The Director's Chair:The Coen Brothers

Updated on May 6, 2014
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I am 26 and basically am obsessed with movies and music and would like to someday become someone who has a job in the business someday!

From the start of their career when they were making films in their hometown of Minneapolis Minnesota.The Coen Brothers have made films weren't really visually stunning but more on a directing level and the way the acting was done was nothing short of amazing in the way that it was done.In 1984 the brothers started their career out by making the film Blood Simple.Now if you were to look at the back of the box for this film you would just get Joel Coen on it but it goes that brother Ethan was an uncredited director on the film so they were even a team in directing before they even went by the coined phrase of the "Brothers".The story involves a very wealthy man hires a PI to go take down his cheating wife and her other lover and then when it comes down to blood and everything in between it gets complicated.With a cast of Jon Getz,Frances Mcdormand and Dan Hedaya in the main roles it was a great start for them as a first film as a team.

1987 brought along Raising Arizona and the brothers decided to cast Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter in the main roles when an ex con and ex cop who decided to try out being parents and take in a child from someone they found who had quintuplets and finding out that life becomes a bit more complicated then it seems.This film was known as a comedy compared to their last and ended up getting them 3 nominations during award season and 1 win in the bag as well.1990 showed a period piece in the prohibition era with Miller's Crossing.The film was about one advisor to a crime boss named Tom Regan who tries to get in between two families and cool down their fighting and problems start to arise from it.Casting Gabriel Byrne,John Turtorro and Albert Finney in the main roles were more good choices leading to top acting and making it a good move with the story.

1991 showed a more personal film in Barton Fink.Again working with John Turtorro in the main role as a playwright heading from New York to Hollywood to see what its all about and then coming to meet John Goodman and finding the truth about the world he was going into and excited for.1994 brought in comedy with The Hudsucker Proxy that had Tim Robbins,Jennifer Jason Leigh and Paul Newman in the starring roles about a business graduate who gets nominated as president for his company only to find out that it is all a big scam.This film had great casting choices after Robbins was in The Shawshank Redemption and of course you can't go wrong with Paul Newman because its Paul Newman.In 1996 the brothers decided to REALLY go to their roots in their next film and it ended up being one of their top 5 greatest films they have ever done and it has even spawned a television show this year as well in Fargo.

Fargo has become of those special films in peoples eyes and later on it came to be possibly where Joel Cohen met his wife that he is still with to this day in Frances Mcdormand who played Marge Gunderson herself.It revolves around Jerry Lundegaard's crime that is committed with his friend and then everything starts to fall apart for him and his buddies as police officer Marge Gunderson is catching up with them at a quick pace.After this film was release it was commented that they got the "Minnesotan" accent down perfectly for the actors but having them overuse it and having it be so thick was almost comedic when the film was intended to be a crime drama so if there is anything funny about that film to this day its still the way those accents are used its just perfect.In 1998 the brothers got on sort of a hot streak with back to back great films that are basically in cult status now with Fargo being the first and The Big Lebowski being the great work they decided to do after.The telling of the story of Jeff Bridges as The "Dude" Lebowski who mistakenly gets thought of as another person with the same last name who happens to be a millionaire and also wants justice for his ruined rug so in order for that joins a bowling league with his friends.This film has garnered many phrases,shirts,posters and many many more things but it does still after over a decade of being out hold up to this day.During award season it garnered 9 nominations and 1 win overall and it is by far one of the funniest,goofiest and most remembered movies ever.

In 2000 you would think that it would be very hard for a director or team of directors to go 3 times in a row or for the "Hat Trick" of good films but in 2000 they completed that and then some with O Brother Where Art Thou? This film had them bringing back casting friend John Turtorro and Tim Blake Nelson as two of the three escaped convicts as the third one was played by the one and only George Clooney.The film basically revolves around the convicts who escape and try and find this buried treasure as they are being hunted down by the law at the same time.Now this film ended up being nominated for overall 31 nominations but this DID get the 2 Oscar nominations that were much deserved.This also had a certain song and set of songs in the film that was later released on the soundtrack that caused a flurry of sales for the soundtrack itself because the moviegoers as well loved the music as much as the movie so it was almost like killing two birds with one stone which is great.

2001 showed fans The Man Who Wasn't There which starred Billy Bob Thorton,Frances Mcdormand and James Gandolfini in the main roles.This film revolves around a guy who blackmails his wife's boss into investing into dry cleaning and then the plan unravels in his face and everything just goes wrong.Now from his last 3 films being so fantastic this is honestly a step back for the brothers even though it was nominated a total of 34 times and got 1 Oscar nomination as well.In 2003 it seemed that the brothers were going to take on uncharted water for them in doing a romantic comedy with Intolerable Cruelty.The film had an amazing cast with George Clooney,Catherine Zeta Jones and Billy Bob Thorton in the big roles for the film and it involved a divorce lawyer who gets involved with a gold digger with the plan of it making him a killing in the future.This film was told to be a cute film and got some good reviews and was scored well on the major film sites but overall it wasn't a Big Lebowski or Fargo which they are now well known for.The brothers are still making and churning out good films but having that film version "Hat Trick" is what they are known for.

2004 gave the world another oddball film for them with The Ladykillers.The film did star Tom Hanks as the main character and did have a nice storyline about a group of guys stocked up in a place plotting to rob a casino then his landlord starts to get involved and she is a really old woman and gets in their way.With them just doing Intolerable Cruelty before and this film now it was compared by critics that Ladykillers was the worst film they have made and just a miss for them overall which isn't a bad thing for directors because no director is perfect but in the end it wasn't something people enjoyed.In 2007 audiences were curious as to what the brothers next film was going to be and what the story involved and then they released No Country For Old Men.

When they released the film starring Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin as Brolin being a cowboy on nice trip when he stumbles upon a drug deal gone completely wrong and then finds 2 million dollars and it is placed in his possession and he is basically on the run from the dealers hit man in Bardem as he chases Brolin all over trying to get his money and kill him in the process.This film was ultra violent and was a complete wake up call as to their last two films where the acting was layered and thought out and when the fighting scenes between Bardem and Brolin were happening when they meet it is by far something that you wanted to happen even if it was only for 5 to 10 minutes until Brolin stormed off.Also Bardem basically stamped his name in his career with this film because he played a sinister villain who was unstoppable to getting what he wanted and some viewers and critics of the film even said that they got chills listening to him speak his dialogue because it was so deep and evil.During award season this one was special for the brothers because it had a total of 51 nominations and they got at least 8 Oscar nominations and 4 Oscar wins including Best Picture Of The Year and Best Directing by the brother's themselves so they also got an award to hang on their mantle too.

2008 was the big debut to see what the brothers had in store after No Country For Old Men and they came up with an all star cast with every name in it being practically an A lister and that film was Burn After Reading.The film had a full cast that starred Brad Pitt,John Malkovich,Tilda Swinton,Frances Mcdormand and George Clooney just to name a few.The film was about the memoirs of a CIA agent and it ends up in the hands of a very goofy gym employee played by Pitt and the film was dramatic with its fill of comedy for whenever Brad Pitt was on the screen as well.It did get nominated for 2 Golden Globes and was nominated for 13 total awards but didn't end up taking anything home.

2009 was something that the brothers did and was very different from their last project and something they wanted to as a "Passion" Project and that film is A Serious Man.The cast in A Serious Man is arguably and basically unknown compared to the Harlem Globetrotteresque cast that the brothers had in Burn After Reading but the story isn't supposed to be in the same strain as well so it is very different like most of their films are.The story involves.Larry Gopnik who is a math teacher who in his life has most of the good things in it just start falling apart and even though that he seems to stay strong he still keeps sinking inside.

2010 was another BIG awards year for the brothers with the film and remake True Grit.It stars Jeff Bridges as the main role that John Wayne had played so long ago and having a young and unknown Hailee Steinfeld as the young girl who follows him around to track down her fathers murder who is played by Matt Damon.Now that the film was garnered with an overall ok to good response during the awards season it roared in with a whopping 85 nominations and a giant 10 Oscar nominations and by the end of the night it was shut out but in all honesty having that many nominations is something to take notice of regardless.2013 was another good year for them as they come in with Inside Llewyn Davis.This one had actor Oscar Issac coming in playing the title role of a musician and it basically revolves around his life in the span of a week in the span of a week.Issac wasn't the only casting in the film as this was another one with a great cast list involving Carey Mulligan,John Goodman,Justin Timberlake,Garrett Hedlund and many more.Also since it was a music based film it had help with T-Bone Burnett who is a legend in music and Marcus Mumford came in as well and he is also married to Carey Mulligan so it was a perfect mix for the film and in order to make it all come into place.During awards season it ended up being their second highest nominated film with 71 total nominations and 2 Oscar nominations in full.

So for the future for the brothers is kind of up in the air at the moment because they don't have anything upcoming or announced in the recent months and they have been on Inside Llewyn Davis since December and also with the release of the TV series for Fargo they might have a very loose helping on that as well since the cast list for that is a little more up there then in the original films but nonetheless it may never be up to films level overall.No matter what comes for the Coen Brothers in the next few years you know they are almost made for being at the Academy Awards yearly and are going to be visiting for a long long time.

Favorite Coen Brothers Film?

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Fargo Trailer

No Country For Old Men Trailer


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    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 

      4 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Great film hub on the careers of Ethan and Joel Cohen. I enjoyed this trip down memory lane. I think Jeff Bridges actually ought to have won the oscar for his performance in that film. The Cohen's did a brilliant job of the films they made. Fargo, O Brother, and Raising Arizona being particularly unique to cinema, as these films seem to go beyond the format or expected niche. The Cohens are very original when it comes to movies.


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