Is ‘Hail, Caesar!’ from Joel and Ethan Coen the first Oscar contender of 2016?

Hail Caesar Joel Coen Ethan Coen Oscars Josh Brolin George Clooney

Could four-time Oscar champs Joel and Ethan Coen be working their awards magic again? Their new comedy film “Hail, Caesar!” opens nationwide this weekend and could be a contender at the Oscars, Golden Globes, and other awards ceremonies almost a year away.

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The Coen brothers have assembled an all-star cast on screen and behind the scenes for the comedy film set in Hollywood’s golden age of the 1950s. Previous Oscar nominee Josh Brolin (“Milk”) stars as a studio fixer with plenty of problems to solve over one single day of production. Two-time Oscar winner George Clooney (“Syriana,” “Argo”) has a supporting role as the popular leading man of a religious epic being shot at the studio. The kidnapping of his character sets many of the plot developments into motion.

Based on screentime, those men are probably the only two with nomination chances, especially at the Golden Globes where they have separate comedy categories. Others with smaller and/or cameo roles include past Oscar nominees Ralph Fiennes and Jonah Hill, previous Oscar champs Frances McDormand (“Fargo”) and Tilda Swinton (“Michael Clayton”) and superstar actor Channing Tatum, who is showcased in a very large production number.

Regular Coen collaborators include 13-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins (cinematographer), current nominee Carter Burwell (composer), and past nominees Jess Gonchor (production designer) and Mary Zophres (costume designer). Under their pseudonym Roderick Jaynes, the Coens once again edit their own film.

The Coen brothers have had an impressive Academy Awards history already with 14 career nominations and four victories. Those wins were for Best Original Screenplay of “Fargo” (1996) and Best Picture, Best Directing, and Best Adapted Screenplay for “No Country for Old Men” (2007). Other films bringing them noms in the past were “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” “A Serious Man,” and “True Grit.” They are nominated again this year for Best Original Screenplay of “Bridge of Spies” along with writer Matt Charman.

Related: Will Roger Deakins (‘Sicario’) finally win an Oscar on his 13th try?

Below, just a sample from the early notices (click each name to read the full review). 

Justin Chang (Variety):
“If there’s such a thing as poker-faced exuberance, you can feel it in every loving, teasing frame of Joel and Ethan Coen’s ‘Hail, Caesar!,’ an inside-showbiz lark that regards the 1950s studio system with the utmost skepticism even as it becomes an expression of movie love at its purest.”

Leah Greenblatt (Entertainment Weekly)
“It’s Coen lite, basically, but still filled with their best signatures: cracked humor, indelible characters, and cinematography so rich and saturated you want to dunk a cookie in it.”

Glenn Kenny (RogerEbert.com)
“A comic fable that’s both deftly clever and irrepressibly goofy. It is also, from stem to stern, the sweetest and sunniest film the Coens have ever made.”

Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times)
“This is one of my favorite movies ever made about making movies.”

Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)
“A wild whoosh of Coen brothers wizardry that left me laughing helplessly and filled with spiritual dread. Thats the Coens for you. They’re indispensable.”

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Photo Credit: Working Title and Universal Pictures

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