O Brother, Where Art Thou

After a holiday in the sun with “The Big Lebowski,” the Oscar-winning Coen Brothers return to joking yokels with “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” a period piece based on “The Odyssey” and set in the Depression-era South.

That might sit well with Oscar: The last time they tried such regional flavor was in 1996 with “Fargo,” which won them Best original screenplay and earned Francis McDormand best actress. Then again, “Fargo” wasn’t a period piece based on a Greek epic.

But that regional Achilles’ heel

Joel Coen
Joel and Ethan Coen
Carter Burwell

could be a strength in the original score department, where the film’s rootsy music may find sympathetic ears with Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences members.

While the Acad often seeks more “serious” orchestral fare when considering period films for the music categories, its musical tastes may be changing — especially if “Blame Canada” from 1999’s “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” got a nom in the song category.

“Fargo” also earned Joel Coen his first nomination for best director, so Academy members are familiar with the name, making a return nod a possibility in this year’s wide-open race.

Recognizing this, Buena Vista plans a push for the category and also for the pic across the board, including cinematography, original screenplay, editing and picture.

Boosting this effort is the fact that “O Brother” was nominated this year for the Palme d’Or. Then again, so was “The Hudsucker Proxy.”

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