Joel Coen Biography

Joel Coen photo

Born: November 29, 1954


Date of Birth: November 29, 1954

A Minneapolis, Minnesota native, Coen began honing his craft at New York University in the 1970s before breaking into the movie industry in the 1980s. He found work as an assistant editor working on several low budget horror films, including Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead, and began doing a bit of writing with his younger brother, Ethan.

Seeing other independent moviemakers putting their own picture deals together, the Coen brothers decided to go out on their own and find financing for a script they had written entitled Blood Simple. They found the money, cast the parts and headed to Austin, Texas to film their movie.

Released in 1984, the two made waves with the low-budget film, a taut bit of film noir that wowed its audiences. Besides landing some of the top ten lists including Time Magazine, The Washington Post and USA Today, Blood Simple received numerous award nominations such as the Edgar Allen Poe Award and an Independent Spirit Award for best screenplay.

With their next project the brothers established themselves as cult heroes with Raising Arizona (1987), an offbeat but consistently funny kidnapping story.

In 1991, Joel was named Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival for Barton Fink. The film also garnered the Palme D'Or Award for Best Picture, two New York Film Critics Circle Awards, three Oscar nominations, and one Golden Globe nomination.

The Coens landed an all-star cast of Paul Newman, Tim Robbins and Jennifer Jason Leigh for their 1994 movie The Hudsucker Proxy. But the highly stylized look at corporate America failed to connect with audiences, taking in less than $3 million at the box office.

The brothers shared a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for their work on 1996's Fargo, and another Oscar, for Best Actress, went to Frances McDormand, to whom Joel had been married since 1984. After this film, the Coens went on to make The Big Lebowski in 1998. A blend of bungled crime and warped comedy, Lebowski was a laid-back, irreverent revision of the hardboiled L.A. detective genre.

Together the Coen brothers have built a reputation as two of the most visionary and idiosyncratic filmmakers of the late 20th century. For the beginning of the new millennium, the Coens have worked on O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), starring George Clooney and John Turturro, followed by The Man Who Wasn't There (2002) starring Billy Bob Thornton and Intolerable Cruelty (2002), starring Clooney again alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Coen and his wife have two children.

Filmography (director):

A Serious Man (2009) Mbr /> Burn After Reading(2008)
No Country for Old Men(2007)
The Ladykillers(2004)
Intolerable Cruelty(2003)
The Man Who Wasn't There(2002)
O Brother, Where Art Thou?(2000)
The Big Lebowski(1998)
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
Barton Fink(1991)
Miller's Crossing(1990)
Raising Arizona(1987)
Blood Simple(1984)
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