Coen brothers awarded France’s top cultural honour

US filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, known for genre-hopping movies of distinctive tone and texture, received France’s top cultural honour on Wednesday. The French have long championed the brothers, who have won several top prizes at Cannes.


US filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen were on Wednesday presented with France’s highest cultural honour at a ceremony in Paris.

The brothers, who have racked up prizes for their large body of work, including a Palme d’Or for “Barton Fink” at Cannes in 1991, a Best Picture Oscar for “No Country for Old Men” in 2008, and the second-place Grand Prize for “Inside Llewyn Davis” at Cannes in 2013, were made Commanders of the Order of Arts and Letters.

“Inside Llewyn Davis”, a melancholic deadpan masterwork about the 1960s folk music scene in Greenwich Village, will be released in France on November 6, in the US on December 6 and in the UK in January.

The film, which stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman and Justin Timberlake, centres on the artistic and personal problems of a talented singer struggling to make a name for himself – and enough money to live on. It is considered a major contender for the next Academy Awards, to be held on March 2, 2014, in Los Angeles.

Since dazzling critics with their 1984 début, the noir thriller “Blood Simple”, Joel, 58, and Ethan, 56, have built a reputation as two of the most innovative directors in the world. The Coen brothers’ movies are known not just for their technical bravura, but also for a distinctive tone blending quirky satire, macabre themes and bittersweet emotion.

The brothers have also experimented with various genres, from screwball comedy (“The Hudsucker Proxy” and “Intolerable Cruelty”) to crime film (“Miller’s Crossing”) to musical (“O Brother, Where Art Thou’) to Western (“True Grit”).

The French, especially, are known to be longtime champions of the Coen brothers, whose films are often selected for the main competition at Cannes.

Other artists recently made Commanders of the Order of Arts and Letters in France are movie star Bruce Willis and U2 frontman Bono.

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