Joel and Ethan Coen just made Academy Award history with their tandem nomination for best director for "No Country for Old Men." The siblings are the first brother directing team to be nominated in that category. And if they win, they will become the first team to receive the directing Oscar since Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins won for 1961's best picture winner, "West Side Story."
Though the Coens, who are also nominated for their adapted screenplay for "No Country," are perhaps the best-known directing team working in films today, there have been numerous tandem directors past and present who have toiled together behind the camera:
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
The husband-and-wife team made a name for themselves directing music videos and documentaries for acts such as the Smashing Pumpkins, Janet Jackson and Macy Gray, winning a slew of awards, including two Grammys. They've also helmed commercials for the Gap, Target, ESPN and Apple. Their successful segue to feature films with the 2006 indie hit "Little Miss Sunshine" was nominated for a best picture Oscar and won Academy Awards for supporting actor Alan Arkin and screenwriter Michael Arndt.
The innovative writing-directing team of Andy and Larry Wachowski are responsible for the three "Matrix" blockbuster adventures as well as the upcoming special-effects laden "Speed Racer," based on the popular Japanese animated series. The college dropouts came up with the concept for the "Matrix" trilogy while running a carpentry business. They also wrote comic books for Marvel Comics' Razorline imprint before turning to filmmaking. Though the first "Matrix" won several technical Oscars, the Wachowskis have yet to win over the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In fact, they won the Razzie Award for worst director for "The Matrix Reloaded."
Peter and Bobby Farrelly
The brothers, who hail from Rhode Island, have never met a joke too crude, a situation too gross or a subject too outrageous in their envelope-stretching comedy hits, which include "Dumb and Dumber," "Kingpin" and their 1998 blockbuster, "There's Something About Mary." They have earned praise for frequently casting disabled people to play the roles of the gifted and well-adjusted -- in contrast to the so-called normal people who play the goofballs. Though they have continued to make films, none of their post-"Mary" work has come even close to that wonderfully tasteless farce with Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz. Their latest film, last year's poorly received remake of "The Heartbreak Kid," reunited them with Stiller but tanked at the box office.
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Powell was a British producer and director who worked his way up the ranks in the 1930s, hitting pay dirt when he teamed up with the Hungarian Jew émigré Pressburger on a series of seminal films during the 1940s and '50s. Under the banner of "The Archers," they wrote, directed and produced films including "The 49th Parallel," "One of Our Aircraft Is Missing," "I Know Where I'm Going," "The Red Shoes" and "The Tales of Hoffmann." Though the team was never Oscar nominated for best director, "The 49th Parallel" and "The Red Shoes" were nominated for best film Oscars, with Pressburger winning the Academy Award for best writing, original story, for "Parallel."
Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen
The team met in 1941 when Kelly had the lead role on Broadway in the musical "Pal Joey" and the teenage Donen was a member of the chorus. By the end of the decade, Kelly had become one of MGM's musical superstars; Donen had supplied choreography for a number of the studio's musicals. In 1949, MGM allowed them to direct and choreograph the 1949 classic musical "On the Town," which also starred Kelly. But they made their masterpiece, "Singin' in the Rain," three years later. It is considered by many to be the greatest musical ever made. The last film they collaborated on was 1955's "It's Always Fair Weather." Kelly's subsequent films as a solo director lacked the enthusiasm and inventiveness that marked his work with Donen. However, Donen, 83, went on to achieve critical and commercial success with such films as "Charade" and "Two for the Road."
Paolo and Vittorio Taviani
The Italian siblings began writing and directing short films before they made their first feature, 1962's "A Man for Burning." And they have continued to work together by directing alternate scenes. They are best known in this country for their haunting 1982 memory piece, "The Night of the Shooting Stars." Other films in their canon include 1979's "The Meadow," starring a young Isabella Rossellini; 1977's "Padre Padrone"; and 1987's "Good Morning, Babylon." Their latest collaboration was 2007's "The Lark Farm," starring Paz Vega. Though never Oscar nominated, the team has received numerous awards over the years, including the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for "The Night of the Shooting Stars."
Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins
Wise was a long-established director of such films as "The Body Snatcher," "The Set-Up" and "The Day the Earth Stood Still," and Robbins was one of the seminal Broadway choreographers and directors responsible for such hits as "West Side Story," "Gypsy" and "The King and I" when they were teamed up to direct the 1961 big-screen adaptation of "West Side Story." It was not a marriage made in heaven. Wise recalled in a 2002 interview with The Times that "it was decided that he would be in charge, and the main director, so to speak, of all the musical parts of the thing, and I would be there on stage with him to make any suggestions that might help him. That worked fine for 60% of the movie. [But] we were getting further and further behind schedule and over budget. The company was not very happy." Robbins never directed another film again; Wise picked up his solo Oscar for best director four years later for the musical "The Sound of Music."
Warren Beatty and Buck Henry
The two collaborated only once as a directing team for the classic 1978 comedy-fantasy "Heaven Can Wait," for which the duo received an Academy Award nomination for best director. Beatty also starred in, produced and co-wrote the film. Henry popped up in a small but pivotal part as a nervous angel. Henry directed only one more film, the 1980 flop "First Family." Three years later, Beatty made his solo feature directorial debut with the 1981 historical epic "Reds," for which he won the best director Oscar.
The Pang Brothers
Twin brothers Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang have written and directed several Hong Kong hits, including "The Eye," which spawned two popular sequels, as well an American remake opening Feb. 1 with Jessica Alba. Oxide, the elder brother by 15 minutes, started his career in Bangkok as a colorist. His first film, 1997's "Who Is Running?," was Thailand's entry for the Academy Award for best foreign-language film. Danny was a film editor who cut such Hong Kong flicks as the "Infernal Affairs" franchise. The two teamed up for the first time in Thailand for the 1999 success "Bangkok Dangerous," which they have remade in English with Nicolas Cage. They direct scenes independently of each other. Said Oxide Pang: "In a shooting location there is always one Pang at a time; it helps us save our energy. One day I'll be shooting, the other, Danny will."
The Duplass Brothers
Jay, 34, and Mark, 31, first received acclaim three years ago for their quirky comedy "The Puffy Chair," made for just $15,000. Jay and Mark wrote the road movie with the latter also playing the lead. Mark, though, joined Jay in the director's chair for their latest film, "Baghead," which recently was warmly received at the Sundance Film Festival. They are in pre-production on their next work, "The Do-Deca Pentathalon."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun