Daniels (it’s not “the Daniels,” it’s just plain “Daniels”) linked up at Emerson College in the 2000s and made their bones directing music videos for Lil’ John, Foster the People, and The Shins. They had a natural chemistry and a unified vision, which cohered brilliantly with their second feature “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
The same could not be said for the first duo to win best director. Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins were at loggerheads throughout the filming of 1961’s “West Side Story.” Robbins, who’d directed the Broadway musical, was a filmmaking neophyte, and thus lacked the skills to deliver the type of grand cinematic spectacle producer Walter Mirisch –- who died last February and was honored during this year’s “In Memoriam” segment of the Oscars –- sought to provide. Wise was an editor-turned-director with a rhythmic sense of cutting. He was the right artist to make visual sense of Robbins’ revolutionary choreography. And when Robbins’ perfectionism knocked the film several weeks over schedule, Wise took control of the production. Still, Mirisch knew they’d be nowhere without Robbins’ vision, so he was given a co-director credit alongside Wise.
Forty-six years later, Joel and Ethan Coen became the second duo to win the best director Oscar with “No Country for Old Men,” and only because they’d lobbied for joint credit on their 2004 disappointment, “The Ladykillers.” Before that, Joel used to take director credit, while Ethan went with the producer. However, they were always a tandem and satisfied the DGA rules, which stipulate that both directors must communicate the same vision. I interviewed the Coens once, and they speak — and mostly giggle — with the same voice.