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DGA nominates Coen brothers

Other feature director nods go to Julian Schnabel, Paul Thomas Anderson, Sean Penn and Tony Gilroy.

January 09, 2008|Susan King | Times Staff Writer

Joel and Ethan Coen made history Tuesday becoming the first sibling directing team to be nominated for a Directors Guild of America award for outstanding directorial achievement in a feature film.

The iconoclastic brothers were nominated for their dark western thriller "No Country for Old Men." Joel Coen was previously nominated for the DGA award for 1996's "Fargo."

Directing teams have been nominated in the past for the DGA's top prize -- husband and wife filmmakers Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris earned a nod from the DGA last year for "Little Miss Sunshine" -- but it is a rare occurrence. The only directing team to win the DGA award were Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for 1961's "West Side Story."

The four other directors vying for the DGA's top prize are all first-time nominees: Julian Schnabel for his drama about the editor of French Elle who suffers a devastating stroke, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"; Paul Thomas Anderson for his oil epic "There Will Be Blood"; Sean Penn for his heartbreaking study of a young man finding himself "Into the Wild"; and Tony Gilroy for the legal thriller "Michael Clayton."

Noticeably absent from the list of DGA nominees were Golden Globe favorites Joe Wright of "Atonement" and Tim Burton for "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street."

Gilroy, who made his directorial debut with "Michael Clayton," said he was stunned to learn he was nominated. "This wasn't on my radar of something that would happen," Gilroy said Tuesday morning. "It is rather an enormous, incredible surprise."

Save for Schnabel, all of the nominees also wrote the screenplays for their films.

Penn joins the ranks of actors-turned-directors such as Clint Eastwood, Warren Beatty, Ron Howard, Mel Gibson and Kevin Costner who have received DGA feature film award nominations. All but Gibson went on to win.

Schnabel, who was on a plane when the announcements were made, said in a statement: "My whole life I have been inspired by the work of film directors. It is an amazing honor to be included among this year's nominees and to be part of the DGA's great history."

The DGA is one of the most reliable bellwethers for Oscar gold: The DGA award winners have gone on to receive the Academy Award 53 of 59 times.

This year is the awards' 60th anniversary. Unlike the Golden Globes, the DGA awards are not televised, and therefore, organizers don't have to worry about picket lines. (The Writers Guild of America has targeted awards shows televised by the struck media conglomerates that the guild is negotiating with.)

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susan.king@latimes.com

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