Academy Advocacy: 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Needs Oscar Nominations
by Joey Magidson
January 15, 2014
After pleading to the Academy to honor Her, this time I'm hoping to bring more attention to an awards contender that seems to be fading fast. We're a few days out from the Oscar nominations now, and it's quite possible that the Academy could be about to majorly snub Inside Llewyn Davis in a number of categories. At the 71st Golden Globe awards, the film went home empty handed, and while there was stiff competition, it's still a shame. As such, I wanted to step forward to make sure that Oscar voters know that they're committing a cinematic crime if they ignore the Coen Brothers' latest triumph. I've written about it before and am thrilled to do so again now since this is the first Coen flick that I've fallen in love with.
Yes, up until now, the work of Joel Coen and Ethan Coen has left me mostly in the cold. Yes, I liked No Country for Old Men quite a bit, but that's not especially a "Coen Brothers film", but other than that one, I've been let down in one way or another by just about everything that they've done, give or take Barton Fink, while I like just fine. Maybe I'm the leper of the critical community, but I find Fargo simply fine, The Big Lebowski incredibly overrated, unfunny, and boring, A Serious Man just a classy version of a Saw flick, and so on. They've never been on my wavelength before, but that changed in a big way once I saw Inside Llewyn Davis at the New York Film Festival back in the fall of 2013.
I love this movie passionately. Inside Llewyn Davis is an absolutely beautiful, remarkably funny, extremely sad, and ultimately haunting look at a struggling artist, amazingly captured in one of the performances of 2013 by Oscar Isaac (in fact, he's my #1 male performance of 2013, as you might have noticed). He’s perfect in the role, well deserving of every bit of acclaim that he was given in 2013, not to mention all of the ones that he wasn't. The music is phenomenal, comprising the best soundtrack in a long time on its own, but what’s so tremendous about it is how absolutely integral it is to the film itself. This isn’t a movie that has music in it, this is very much a musical movie, though not in the more traditional sense of the word or what you often get in films these days. However you want to categorize it, one thing is certain though, this is a brilliant flick from the Coens.
In a few days time when Oscar nominations are announced, Inside Llewyn Davis could potentially pop up in Best Picture, Best Director for the Coens, Best Original Screenplay for the Coens as well, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and one or two other technical categories, though none are considered locks at all. Even sadder, Isaac is basically out of the running for a Best Actor nomination, while "Please Mr. Kennedy" was ruled ineligible for Best Original Song. Honestly, it's distinctly possible that this could be the rare Coen Brothers film (or at least one considered a viable awards contender) to be completely shut out. In all likelihood, it'll show up somewhere, but the buzz is at an all time low, and that's not good.
If I had a vote, I'd award the film nominations for Picture, Actor, Original Screenplay, Production Design, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing, while giving Isaac a win in the Lead Actor category. At this point, it's wishful thinking to believe that there are too many voters out there who feel the way that I do, but there could be just enough who feel similarly to keep it in some of the categories. If that's not the case, it'll be a real bummer.
The biggest disappointment on nomination morning this week will be when Isaac is snubbed in Best Actor. Yes, it's an absolutely packed field, but I'm not sure that anyone else was as integral to the success of their film as he was. Replace him with anyone else and the movie just doesn't work in the same way, and I'd argue just wouldn't work at all. Who else can you say that about?
Members of the Academy, Inside Llewyn Davis needs to be nominated for Best Picture, plain and simple. It's one of my top three favorite films of 2013, but beyond that, there's nothing else like it in the running. Creativity should be honored, should be celebrated, should be rewarded by Oscar voters. Consider this bit of advocacy on my part either an advance bit of shaming on their part for their snubs or a warning of what might have been. Either way, the film will not be cited as much as it should be, and that's a shame.