Why the brothers Coen, that’s who. In their almost thirty year career, Joel and Ethan Coen have shown impeccable taste when casting their leading ladies. I haven’t come here to bury Michael Bay’s ladies. What is apparent, however, is that Bay is looking to cast pure eye candy. He’s got a thing for luscious lips and talent seems to be a bit of an afterthought. Sometimes he lucks out, I have no beef with Gabrielle Union, Liv Tyler has a wealth of Empire Records cred and Kate Beckinsale can be good even if she was wooden and alarmingly orange in Pearl Harbor. I get it, Bay is casting for a different type of movie. As Shia LeBeouf recently said, “Mike films women in a way that appeals to a 16-year-old sexuality. It’s summer. It’s Michael’s style.” And, hey, I’m not going to call it sexist, per se. It’s not like LeBeouf or Josh Duhamel, the two male leads of the Transformers franchise, could have possibly been hired for their acting talent. Don’t get me wrong, Michael Bay is a pig but that’s not my point.
Is it fair to compare Bay’s taste in women to the Coen brothers? Probably not. Apples and oranges (Beckinsale is the orange). But I will say that it was a comfort to me when I heard that the Coen Brothers were thinking of making a film about the NY Folk scene in the 1960’s and I didn’t have to worry that they might cast Blake Lively to play Joni Mitchell and Miley Cyrus to play Joan Baez (I would not put that past Michael Bay…she has the requisite duck lips). The Coen brothers always cast cool, intelligent, beautiful and, above all, talented women in their films. The look of a Coen woman may not always be orthodox (if Bay likes a full lip, the Coens seem to gravitate towards a strong jaw), but she is always compelling. Joel Coen even had the good sense to marry one. So here they are, a round-up of the Coen Woman (and one Girl). I can’t imagine them greased up, string bikini’d and draped over a car. If you can think of another filmmaker with better taste, do let me know.
Marcia Gay Harden (Miller’s Crossing)
Catherine Zeta Jones (Intolerable Cruelty)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Hudsucker Proxy)
Sari Lennick (A Serious Man)
Frances McDormand (Blood Simple, Fargo, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Burn After Reading)
Holly Hunter (Raising Arizona, O Brother, Where Art Thou?)
Julianne Moore (The Big Lebowski)
Judy Davis (Barton Fink)
Kelly McDonald (No Country For Old Men)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Cameron Diaz (Gambit…DAMMIT. Okay, Coens, you get one. One mid-life crisis car. Let’s hope this is an outlier and not the start of a trend.)