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Ethan and Joel Coen have a reputation for assembling high-caliber casts for their films, and 2007’s No Country for Old Men was no exception.
Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, the film starred Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Garret Dillahunt, Tess Harper and Kelly Macdonald in a neo-Western about a drug deal gone wrong. The Screen Actors Guild took notice and in 2008 awarded No Country the prize for outstanding cast in a motion picture, as well as best supporting actor for Bardem.
Brolin accepted for the 47-person cast and praised the independent film for being “a risky movie, and it’s nice to have risky movies now” as “the studio system is backfiring.” Harrelson chimed in with a shoutout to the directors, prompting Brolin to joke, “The Coen brothers are freaky little people, you know? And we did a freaky little movie, whether you like the ending or not.”
That controversial ending involved — spoiler alert — Llewelyn Moss (Brolin) and wife Carla Jean (Macdonald) dead at the hands of hitman Anton Chigurh (Bardem), the villain escaping with a bag of money while Jones’ Sheriff Bell has two open-to-interpretation dreams before the film cuts to black.
No Country for Old Men went on to earn eight Oscar nominations and four wins — best picture, supporting actor for Bardem and screenplay and director awards for the Coens, making them the second directing duo — and the only siblings — to earn the honor.
Nearly 14 years and seven films later, Joel Coen returns solo to the awards conversation with The Tragedy of Macbeth, an adaptation of the Scottish play he wrote and directed. Set for release Dec. 25, the A24/Apple TV+ film stars Denzel Washington and Joel’s wife, Frances McDormand, as the Lord and Lady and marks Joel’s first feature without any involvement from Ethan. As a team, the two have collected 15 Oscar noms and four wins.
This story first appeared in a December stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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