Best music moments in this year’s Oscar favourites

January and February are the months everyone hates… cold, rife with divorces and the winter blues. Everyone except film-lovers, since it’s at the beginning of the year that the big-hitting Oscar contenders arrive in cinemas. Time Out’s deputy film editor Cath Clarke picks her favourite music moments in 2014’s frontrunner movies.

Llweyn sells out (briefly) in Inside Llewyn Davis

This is one of the funny-painful scenes that make Inside Llewyn Davis, the best film from the Coen brothers since The Big Lebowski. Our hero Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) is a musician on the Greenwich Village folk scene in 1961 (loosely based on the real-life Dave Van Ronk). He doesn’t know it yet, but Llewyn is about to be consigned to a footnote in folk history by a complete unknown called Bob Dylan.

Llewyn has got talent in spades but his luck is lousy. Take this scene. Flat broke, he accepts a gig as a session musician at the recording of novelty song. The song is everything he hates, earworm-y and gimmicky. Of course it’s going to be a massive hit. But Llewyn being Llewyn takes the few dollars fee, rather than royalties.

Scorsese pulls it off (again) in The Wolf of Wall Street

Two scenes inside Leonardo DiCaprio’s crooked broker’s firm in The Wolf of Wall Street show why at 71, Martin Scorsese, is still a man who knows how to slam on a soundtrack. In the first, DiCaprio throws a wild party on the sales floor. While a secretary gets her head shaved for $10,000 and butlers pour champagne, a troupe of strippers waltz in. All good, (not so) clean fun. Then Scorsese slips bluesman Elmore James’s Dust My Broom on the jukebox. The mood changes in a heartbeat, spiralling the party into a bad trip. Watch the effect in the video below. In the second scene, the chickens have come home to roost, and as the FBI raid the offices, Scorsese puts grunge outfit The Lemonheads’ version of Mrs Robinson on the jukebox. The song is not what you’re expecting but its sped-up, hyper-ness nails it. Music, says Scorsese, is instrumental to the creation of his films: ‘I design so many scenes driving on the freeways, listening to music.’

Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Jonansson duet in Her

Karen O should win Best Original Song at the Oscars on Sunday night for ‘The Moon Song’. She won’t (Disney’s kids’ animation Frozen has got the category all sewn up). But her acoustic, low-fi-indie lullaby is perfect for Spike Jonze’s near-future romance. The film tells the story of a lonely writer played by Joaquin Phoenix, who falls in love with Samantha, the operating system on his phone (think Siri circa the iPhone 87). Samantha is the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system and is voiced by Scarlett Johansson (so huskily there isn’t a straight guy alive who would kick her out of bed for not having a body). The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’s frontwoman and Jonze dated briefly, and have collaborated professionally since. They co-wrote the lyrics of The Moon Song, and Karen O first recorded it at her dining room table in New York. All of which perhaps explains its intimate sweetness. Lovely.

1 Comment

  • Hoyt says:

    Hey Cath: Correction. In the Scorsese scene, the strippers enter to Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning,” not Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom.”

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