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Coen Brothers Shock With ‘Buster Scruggs’ Oscar Nomination — Read the Short Stories They Adapted

With their Netflix anthology movie, the directing duo has earned their seventh Oscar nomination for screenwriting.

Netflix dominated the 2019 Oscar nominations as expected thanks to Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” which earned the streaming giant its first nomination for Best Picture. “Roma” is nominated for 10 Academy Awards this year, the most of any film aside from “The Favourite,” which also landed 10 nominations. While “Roma” is unquestionably Netflix’s crown jewel of Oscar season, the studio surprised with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” the Coen brothers’ Western anthology film that had a strong showing with three nominations: Best Original Song, Best Costume Design, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

With their Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, Joel and Ethan Coen have now been nominated for seven screenwriting Oscars throughout their career. The duo won Best Original Screenplay for “Fargo” and Best Adapted Screenplay for “No Country for Old Men.” In a surprise turn of events, “Buster Scruggs” pulled off a nomination in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, a shock considering many thought it was an original piece of work from the Coen brothers. So why the adapted nomination? It turns out two of the movie’s six short films are based on preexisting works.

“All Gold Canyon,” the segment starring Tom Waits as an elderly prospector searching for gold, is based on Jack London’s story of the same name. London’s “All Gold Canyon” was first published in 1904. Both works are set in the Sierra Nevada mountains and meditate on man’s clash with nature and the brutal violence of the old West. For “The Girl That Got Rattled,” starring Zoe Kazan, the Coen brothers adapted a short story written by Stewart Edward White and first published in The Century Magazine in 1901. Both short stories the Coen brothers adapted are now available to read in their entirety online: Read “The Girl That Got Rattled” here and “All Gold Canyon” here.

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” won the Coen brothers Best Screenplay at the Venice Film Festival. Other Best Adapted Screenplay nominees include “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and “A Star Is Born.” “Buster Scruggs” is now streaming on Netflix.

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