I saw Inside Llewyn Davis on Friday. I’m not going to waste my time talking about how wonderful it is. If you have ever seen a Coen Brothers film, that is great, you already know what to expect. Llewyn Davis does a great job making you wax nostalgically over a period of time you never existed in. Most period type pieces don’t nail the “lived in” element of the period. This does. So go see it. Or don’t. I’ve already said more about the film than I wanted to, so assume that from here on out, I’m done. Except for this; John Goodman crushes his role.
John Goodman has been prolific in the last few years. If you look up his filmography (we all agree that’s a real word now right?) you’ll see the guy has been everywhere. He’s the voice of the St. Louis Airport, the voice of Dunkin Donuts, the voice of tons of cartoon characters, he’s guested and starred on TV shows, and most notably, he’s become the king of the “micro-supporting role.” Inside Llewyn Davis is a perfect example of what John brings to the table, few actors can. In Llewyn, he plays Roland Turner, a larger than life (see what I did there) former Jazz musician who Llewyn meets on a road trip. If he is in the film for more than 15 mins, I’m shocked. In that time, he basically steals the movie. His scenes are ostensibly the film version of a defribulator. He’s not there for long, but he sparks the film and before you even realize it happened, he’s gone. He’s done this before and he’ll do it again (so says The Prophecy). Don’t believe me? Look back at a handful of the last few roles he’s been in recently, and you’ll start to realize, this man is a goddamned institution:
1. ParaNorman: If you didn’t see this yet, please do. It’s on Netflix. One of the smartest childrens films I’ve seen in ages. John Goodman voices a creepy old man for all of 7 mins, but his performance is so intrinsic to the world of the film, that it would certainly unravel sans him.
2. Argo: I’d guess 20 mins for this one. He might have an aggregate of 20 mins of screentime in Argo, but any time his character is on screen with Alan Arkin, it’s incredible. The movie has it’s flaws, but Goodman elevates the material to a new level, and finds way to add humor to a very serious situation realistically.
3. Flight: Who DOESN’T love a drug-dealer/enabler who makes bad people into worse people? His drug dealer character doesn’t have more than 10-12 mins of screentime in Flight, but any time he’s on screen he’s oddly laugh out loud hilarious. The movie is about alcoholism…
The only problem with the roles he’s chosen for himself in the last few years (notice I’m leaving out Hangover 3, and The Internship), is that he’s not in any of these movies long enough to steal any of that sweet, sweet awards-season nomination love. Ever since Judi Dench ruined it for everyone by being in that movie about Shakespeare being in love (I think it might have been called Shakespeare in Love?) for 7 mins, no one wants to throw out hardware for roles that don’t have the screentime. Goodman has carved out a career as of late being the sniper of sorts of a movie. He does one thing, he kills at it, and then he’s gone from the screen so you can focus back on the serious issue our attractive lead male has. If there was the best supporting, supporting actor that is what he’d be. I hope that all of these close calls with critical acclaim will lead to him getting a true, meaty role in some oscary movie in the next few years. He’s one of the best actors we have working today, and it would be a shame for him to never earn that praise while he’s alive.
P.S. He was Walter Sobchak from The Big Lebowski. In the “Best Fictional Characters of All Time Tourney” he’s easily a 2 seed in a deep 64 character competition (this doesn’t exist, but it should).