AWARDS

Academy Advocacy: 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Needs Oscar Nominations

by
January 15, 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis

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.

Inside Llewyn Davis

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.

Inside Llewyn Davis

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.

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  • truong18
    maybe better movie next year.
    • Joey Magidson
      Not sure what you mean there, but if you mean that maybe the Coens will have a better movie next year, we'll see.
  • Bo
    Love the fact that you express your likes and dislikes of films so passionately, Joey. I do the same and catch a bit of flak for it on many occasions. Having said that, although I agree with you somewhat regarding the Coen's work, I can't say I agree with you on this film. I didn't like it at all and was surprised because of it. I don't like a lot of their stuff, but when I do it's exhilerating. Blood Simple was good; Raising Arizona was funny from first frame to last; Miller's Crossing is a great piece of filmmaking and is in my top five films of all time; No Country was just a great, dark film and the Coen's certainly brought McCarthy's vision to magnificant life; True Grit was very well done and much better thand the John Wayne debacle and closer to the book and its writer. But this film? And I'm of the age when the time period unfolding was a big part of my life. It just didn't work for me. I thought it boring and even trite. I wish I could join you in your excitement for the film. I respect your view of it and the feelings that it obviously evoked in you, but just can't join you here. It will be interesting to me to see how the Academy reacts to this film. It makes to dif to me one way or the other how they react, quite frankly, but to me this is not one of the Coen brother's better efforts. Sorry mate, but thanks again for your passionate take on it. I suggest all to watch the concert filmed in New York that's playing on the Showtime channel that the Coen's and T Bone put together. Now that is really excellent stuff and much better than the actual film...in my most humble opinion, of course...lol...
    • Joey Magidson
      Much obliged, and while we don't agree on this film, we both seem to love the concert on Showtime, so there's that.
  • DavideCoppola
    1st I think it's cool that you do these advocacy articles, 2nd I'm looking forward to Llewyn Davis, because like you most of the Coenes films left me cold so far, but this one looks like the one I might really enjoy and 3rd I just wanted to mention that I like that you reply to people's comments! :)
    • Joey Magidson
      Well, thank you kindly and it's my pleasure.
  • Marty
    I like the music, shame that can't be nominated.
    • Joey Magidson
      Oh believe me, I'm with you there. Such good musical work on display.
  • Doctor Fine
    The Academy took the measure of this movie and found it to be exactly what I said about it: A So-What downer that had no relationship to the Folk Movement except that every once in a while EVERYBODY involved had an off night.
    • Joey Magidson
      I'd argue otherwise, but duly noted.
  • Patricia Vesey
    Inside Llewyn Davis is a damn good movie. The soundtrack, acting, cinematography and overall story deserve more acclaim. I couldn't agree more with everything you said.
    • Joey Magidson
      That it is, without question.

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