Burn After Reading, a comedy starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney, was released September 12, 2008; it portrays a collision course between a gym instructor, spies, and Internet dating. Despite being released to mixed reviews, it debuted at number one in North America.
A Serious Man was released on October 2, 2009. It has been described as a "gentle but dark" period comedy (set in 1967) with a low budget. The film is based loosely on the Book of Job and the Coen brothers' own childhoods in a Jewish academic family in the largely Jewish suburb of Saint Louis Park, Minnesota. Other filming took place in late summer 2008 in some neighborhoods of Roseville and Bloomington, Minnesota, at Normandale Community College, and at St. Olaf College. The movie went on to be nominated for the Oscars for Best Picture as well as Best Original Screenplay.
True Grit (2010) is based on the 1968 novel of the same name by Charles Portis. Filming was done in Texas and New Mexico. Hailee Steinfeld stars as Mattie Ross along with Jeff Bridges as Marshal Rooster Cogburn. Matt Damon and Josh Brolin also appear in the movie. True Grit was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) is a treatise on the 1960s folk music scene in New York City's Greenwich Village and very loosely based on the life of Dave Van Ronk. The film stars Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan. It won the Grand Prix at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where it was highly praised by critics.
The Coens also contributed to the screenplay for Unbroken, along with Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson. The film, directed by Angelina Jolie, is based on Laura Hillenbrand's non-fiction book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (2010), is set for release on December 25, 2014.
The Coens' next feature film is entitled Josh Brolin, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton, as well as newcomers Channing Tatum, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, and Alden Ehrenreich. It was also confirmed that the Coens would be co-writing the screenplay for an untitled thriller about the 1960 U-2 Incident, with playwright Matt Charman. The film is set to be directed by Steven Spielberg for an October 2015 release.
Planned and uncompleted projects
In a 1998 interview with Alex Simon for Venice magazine, the Coens discussed a project called The Contemplations, which would be an anthology of short films based on stories in a leather bound book from a "dusty old library".
The Coens had hoped to film James Dickey's novel To the White Sea. They were due to start production in 2002, with Jeremy Thomas producing and Brad Pitt in the lead role, but it was canceled when the Coens felt that the budget offered was not enough to successfully produce the film.
As well as their own planned projects, the Coens have collaborated on productions with other directors. One, reported in 2005, is Suburbicon, a comedy starring and directed by George Clooney. It will be written and produced by the Coens.
In 2008, it had been announced that the Coen brothers would write and direct an adaptation of Michael Chabon's novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union (2007). They were to produce the film with Scott Rudin for Columbia Pictures. In the fall of 2012, however, Chabon told Mother Jones that "the Coen brothers wrote a draft of a script and then they seemed to move on", and that the film rights had "lapsed back to me".
In 2009, the Coen brothers stated that they are interested in making a sequel to Barton Fink called Old Fink, which would take place in the 1960s, around the same time period as A Serious Man. The brothers also stated that they have had talks with John Turturro in reprising his role as Fink, but they were waiting "until he was actually old enough to play the part".
In 2009, Turturro also stated that he would be interested in making a spinoff of The Big Lebowski about his character, Jesus, but the Coens have not publicly confirmed the likelihood of this project going forward.
In December 2013, the Coens stated in an interview that they are working on a new musical comedy centered around an opera singer, though they have said it is "not a musical per se". In the same interview, they revealed they are also working on a sword and sandals drama film set in ancient Rome (later revealed to be a humorous reference to Hail Caesar, their latest film which actually has nothing to do with Rome, but is set in modern-day Hollywood).
The Coen brothers' own film production company, Mike Zoss Productions located in New York City, has been credited on their films from O Brother, Where Art Thou? onwards.
Up to 2003, Joel received sole credit for directing and Ethan for producing, due to guild rules that disallowed multiple director credits to prevent dilution of the position's significance. The only exception to this rule is if the co-directors are an "established duo". Now that they are able to share the director credit (as an established duo), the Coen brothers have become only the third duo to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. The first two pairs to achieve this were Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins (who won for West Side Story in 1961), and Warren Beatty and Buck Henry (who were nominated for Heaven Can Wait in 1978).
With eight Academy Award nominations for No Country for Old Men, including Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Film Editing (Roderick Jaynes), the Coen brothers have tied the record for the most nominations by a single nominee (counting an "established duo" as one nominee) for the same film. Orson Welles set the record in 1941 with Citizen Kane being nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Screenplay (with Herman J. Mankiewicz). Warren Beatty tied Welles' record when Beatty was nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Screenplay for Heaven Can Wait in 1978 and again in 1981 with Reds. Alan Menken also then achieved the same feat when he was nominated for Best Score and triple-nominated for Best Song for Beauty and the Beast in 1991.
The Coens similarly tend to work with certain crews as well, especially Roger Deakins, Jess Gonchor, Skip Lievsay, and Mary Zophres. They notably used cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld on their first three films, through Miller's Crossing, until Sonnenfeld left to pursue his own directing career. Deakins has been the Coen brothers' cinematographer for all their subsequent films except Burn After Reading, on which they employed Emmanuel Lubezki, and Inside Llewyn Davis, on which they employed Bruno Delbonnel.
Sam Raimi is another frequent collaborator. He helped write The Hudsucker Proxy, which the Coen brothers directed, and the Coen brothers helped write Crimewave, which Raimi directed. Raimi took tips about filming A Simple Plan (1998) from the Coen brothers, who had recently finished Fargo. (Both films are set in blindingly white snow, which reflects a lot of light and can make metering for a correct exposure tricky). Raimi has cameo appearances in Miller's Crossing and The Hudsucker Proxy. Raimi and the Coens met when Raimi directed The Evil Dead (1981), for which Joel was hired as an assistant editor.
Carter Burwell has scored all of the Coens' films, aside from Crimewave (1985), although T-Bone Burnett produced much of the traditional music in O Brother, Where Art Thou? and The Ladykillers, and was in charge of archive music for The Big Lebowski. Skip Lievsay handles the sound editing for all of the Coens' films.
Most of the Coens' films have been credited to the editor "Roderick Jaynes", an alias which refers collectively to the two Coen brothers. Tricia Cooke, Ethan's wife, was also an editor on three of their films, after working as assistant editor on several of their earlier films. Michael R. Miller edited Raising Arizona and Miller's Crossing.
William Preston Robertson is an old friend of the Coens who helped them with re-shoots on Blood Simple and provided the voice of the radio evangelist. He is listed in the credits as the "Rev. William Preston Robertson". He has provided vocal talents on most of the Coens' films up to and including The Big Lebowski. He is also credited in Raimi's Evil Dead II (1987) and wrote The Making of The Big Lebowski with Tricia Cooke.
Awards and nominations
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- According to the State of Minnesota. Minnesota Birth Index, 1935–2002. Minnesota Department of Health. Searchable at http://www.ancestry.com
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- Kit, Borys (July 10, 2014). "'"Jonah Hill Joining Channing Tatum, George Clooney in Coen Brothers' 'Hail, Caesar!.
- McNary, Dave (May 20, 2014). "Coen Brothers to Script Tom Hanks-Steven Spielberg's Cold War Drama".
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- Patterson, John (December 21, 2007). "We've killed a lot of animals". The Guardian (London). Retrieved February 28, 2011.
- Davis, Erik (November 27, 2005). "Clooney to direct Suburbicon". Cinematical.com. Retrieved February 26, 2008.
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- Mechanic, Michael (Sep–Oct 2012). "Michael Chabon's Vinyl Draft".
- Adam Rosenberg (September 21, 2009). "'"EXCLUSIVE: Coen Brothers Want John Turturro To Get Old For 'Barton Fink' Sequel, 'Old Fink. MTV. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
- Adam Rosenberg (September 21, 2009). "EXCLUSIVE: 'Big Lebowski' Jesus Spin-off 'Could Happen' But Not Yet, Say Ethan And Joel Coen". MTV. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
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- "The Coen Brothers are Writing a Film About an Opera Singer". SlashFilm.com.
- Mike Zoss Production Inc. "Mike Zoss Production Inc – New York City (NY) | Company Profile". Manta.com. Retrieved August 3, 2010.
- "Burn After Reading: The Coens go back to their kooky roots".
- Desowitz, Bill (December 4, 2013). "'"New York Film Critics' Cinematography Winner Delbonnel Goes 'Inside Llewyn Davis.
- Yuan, Jada (January 22, 2008). "'"Roderick Jaynes, Imaginary Oscar Nominee for 'No Country. Vulture.
- Joel Coen at the Internet Movie Database
- Ethan Coen at the Internet Movie Database
- Coenesque: The Films of the Coen Brothers
- video: The Films of the Coen Brothers, movie clip compilation, 3 min.