6 Reasons Why Inside Llewyn Davis Is My Favorite Movie That I Have Yet To See This Year

%name 6 Reasons Why Inside Llewyn Davis Is My Favorite Movie That I Have Yet To See This Year

Comic fanboys aren’t the only ones to nerd out over upcoming movies. For many people, virtuosic directors, such as Joel and Ethan Coen, are superheroes too. To each his own, right?

The latest project from the Coen brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis, is set to be rolled out across theaters throughout December. It’s been three years since True Grit surged as one of the most pleasantly surprising audience hits of 2010, which was also the fourth straight year we were fortunate enough to receive a top-tier Coen product; that run of No Country for Old Men to Burn After Reading to A Serious Man and then True Grit was surely one of the most remarkable consecutive streaks in recent movie history.

I guess they deserved a little time off. The only problem is, this built up anticipation for their next project, and so hearing the musical-based premise of their newest film and seeing some of its early images made it appear that this directing team is still at the top of their game.

Personally, I can’t help but feel as though this is a movie made just for me—it has many of my favorite performers, a style of music I can’t resist, and that Midwestern Jewish sensibility that for some reason speaks to me. Then again: I haven’t actually watched it yet. I do my best to abstain from involving myself in the culture of overexcited anticipation, but this is an exceptional case.

Despite running the risk of setting impossibly high expectations, here are 6 aspects of Inside Llewyn Davis that have convinced me that it will be my favorite movie of all time.

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1) The music

Inside Llewyn Davis 6 Reasons Why Inside Llewyn Davis Is My Favorite Movie That I Have Yet To See This Year

I’ve been listening to the T-Bone Burnett-produced soundtrack for Inside Llewyn Davis pretty much non-stop since its release. Burnett seems to be some kind of wizard when it comes to movie soundtracks, with credits including the Coens’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Crazy Heart to his name. His reputation is unmatched, and this soundtrack will only add to it.

The movie centers on this fictional 1960s folk singer named Llewyn Davis, but there’s very much a folk-blues-country-bluegrass vibe to the entire thing. There seems to be a range of musical influences represented by various characters that appear in the film (I don’t know if I’ve made this clear yet—I haven’t seen the movie yet), but even though it’s a genre that appeals to me, the fact that the stars of the movie performed the songs live is encouraging. Oscar Isaac, in particular, as the titular character has some serious musical chops, as does this supporting player by the name of Justin Timberlake (so I hear).

That “Fare Thee Well” song that is played behind most of the movie’s trailers is probably the crown jewel of the soundtrack, setting a lovely tone for the strange clips and images we’ve been shown. Marcus Mumford’s contributions seem rather valuable too. I know his band has garnered something of a Coldplay-like reputation, but here at least he seems like a worthy collaborator.

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2) Oscar Isaac

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Apparently Oscar Isaac has been in several movies I’ve watched, but in character roles that I’m sure would only stand out if I were to revisit them. What I remember him vividly from is Drive, which made the realization that the guy from the Inside Llewyn Davis trailer was the same guy who played Standard quite a shock, even though he looks basically the same. I suspect he’s the type of performer who disappears into every persona he’s embodying; who would have suspected Standard Gabriel could be indistinguishable from Mad Men’s Michael Ginsberg?

Understandably, Isaac is attracting his share of awards attention, not only for his acting in the film but his musical performances. He’s been so successful at this, in fact, that he’s putting on shows performing the movie’s soundtrack, as a way of campaigning for awards consideration, as actors tend to do in various ways at this time of year. That sounds like kind of a novel idea for carrying out an aspect of Hollywood politics that everyone seems to talk about despising, yet never changes.

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3) Carey Mulligan

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Isaac’s Drive co-star is one of those actors who is excellent in every movie she’s in; this is just objectively true. That she seems like an absolute delight as a person is just a Jennifer Lawrence flavor of icing on a cakebed of talent. She also shares that ability to either choose projects that are likely to turn out great, or else she elevates the quality of every film she is a part of.

Already this year we saw her dazzle in The Great Gatsby. It was a role around which there was a healthy level of skepticism; Carey Mulligan was likely not the first actor to come to mind when people thought of Daisy Buchanan. Now it’s difficult to imagine anyone else tackling that character. She’s an actor that is dependably surprising—in other words, the best kind of actor.

She also demonstrated in Shame that she has some musical prowess that hopefully Inside Llewyn Davis will grant her the opportunity to showcase. She’s the type of performer that doesn’t wow you with natural abilities, or pipes, but with presence. Her take on “New York, New York” in Shame was mesmerizing.

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4) That trademark Coen humor and aesthetic

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Despite being a relatively late adopter of love for the Coen brothers’ filmography, there is now no other film writers whose dialogue is nearly as intoxicating; Tarantino comes close, though. There are certainly parallels between the styles of these directors, as both demonstrate the inseparability of their writing with their direction—their words in another director’s hands lose just a little of their magic. It also makes sense that the Coens seem to have an abundant love of music in their movies, as their scripts have a unique rhythm and musical quality to them, a weird kind of poetry that is obnoxious to describe as such but nonetheless appropriate.

Visually, the Coens have formed a team with legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins for over 20 years. This time, however, their director of photography is Bruno Delbonnel, a relative rising star who gained attention for work on such films as Amelie and Across the Universe, as well as being Tim Burton’s new go-to guy. So the look of Llewyn Davis appears less crystal clear compared to Deakins’ stuff, but the hazy glow of 1960s New York gives it a fresh feel for a Coen film. Freshness is becoming a signature for them these past few years, as if they get bored by repeating themselves. Another reason to dig them.

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5) The cat

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Movies with animals are hard to resist to begin with, but the simple image of Oscar Isaac walking around with a guitar case in one arm and an orange cat in the other is so adorable that I want to die. This is where I must disclose that I am something of a cat person—at least, this is what my Instagram page would lead me to believe. I have an ingrained affinity for people who travel with cats, particularly Midwestern Jews traveling to the big city with dreams of success and fame.

And I’m not the only one who finds the cat one of the most important elements of this movie. Audiences at Cannes reportedly littered the ginger tom cat with praise. He got carried down the red carpet. He’s like Uggie from The Artist except being a cat, he probably doesn’t give a shit about fame and just wants to find a nice place to lay down. “The film doesn’t really have a plot,” Joel Coen told the press after the movie’s screening at Cannes. “That concerned us at one point; that’s why we threw the cat in.” Again, the parallels to my own life are eerie. But the more details I hear about Inside Llewyn Davis, the more I am certain it will be the greatest.

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6) This trailer

There’s really only one other trailer this year that may have come close to matching this Inside Llewyn Davis’ spot, and that’s the first preview of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. That one’s a manic romp through Wall Street circles punctuated by the wonderfully bizarre antics of Matthew McConaughey, and that’s great. This trailer, though, is so beautifully paced. It opens with a punch to the face. It only offers little glimpses, passing moments, between these characters. We see Carey Mulligan’s subtle lift of the eyebrows, John Goodman’s sarcastic charm, and Llewyn’s agent, Mel, with the best line of the spot: “…how ya doin’, kid?” All synced as perfectly as possible with that beautiful Mumford/Isaac song.

Lots of movies are still poised to make a big splash this winter season. American Hustle, Her, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, even the Anchorman sequel are worthy of giddy anticipation for December moviegoers. For me though, none of them can raise a candle, or a menorah, to Inside Llewyn Davis. The yearly movie season should always end with the Coen brothers, and it’s assuring that 2013 will wind down with them bidding us a lovely “fare thee well.” Probably!

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