This week on At the Movies, Peter Travers highlights Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen Brothers' love letter to 1960s Greenwich Village and one of our fearless critic's top picks for 2013. The film follows a down-on-his-luck folk singer (Oscar Isaac) navigating the New York City coffeehouse scene in 1961. But unlike Dave Van Ronk or Bob Dylan,Davis' story is not one of success. "Anybody can make a movie about a winner," the Coens recently told Travers. "Why not make one about a loser?"
Despite his immense talents, fame constantly eludes Davis, who finds himself crashing on couches, losing his hosts' cat and inadvertently impregnating Jean (Carey Mulligan), the girlfriend of his best friend (Justin Timberlake). The movie leads up to a big audition in Chicago, only to have F. Murray Abraham's character Bud Grossman tell him, "I don't see the money in it."
"Very sad, very funny and yet typical Coen brothers, which to me means typically great," Travers raves. He adds praise for Isaac's performance – calling it one of the best of the year – and gives extra special attention to the wonderful John Goodman, who appears briefly as an older blues man insulting Davis on a trip to Chicago. "He is a total junkie, but his wit is so sharp," says Travers, adding – with not an unreasonable amount of "damn you Hollywood!" vitriol – that John Goodman has never been nominated for an Oscar. "This movie gets to you, it stays inside of you, it rolls around inside your head – can we say that about most of the junk we see?" Travers asks. "We can't. So I'm saying, go find out what's inside Llewyn Davis."