Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Cohen)
The quintessential folk film of the year, Inside Llewyn Davis depicts the changing folk scene of the 1960s. While fellow musicians begin to conform to the ‘mundane ness’ of commercial music, Llewyn struggles to find his place in the industry as an artist intent on projecting his own emotional hardships through song. With a beautiful soundtrack and top-notch performances, the film objectively highlights the penultimate conflict between art and commercial value.
Her (Spike Jonze)
While the film does not feature folk music in its content per se, it contains a beautiful wee ditty that I was reminded of last month thanks to National Radio. Struck by the eerie, yet delightfully warming female vocals, I was compelled to look it up and then realized why it had sounded so familiar! It is “The Moon Song,” sung by Karen O.
12 Years A Slave (Steve McQueen)
The African-American folk songs in this film, especially the haunting “Roll Jordan Roll” for me, truly emphasize folk music as a vehicle of connectivity- a tool by which minority groups can build a sense of community, express contemporary concern and overcome times of grief and loss. The wholesome aspect of “Roll Jordan Roll” as it is performed in the film, reminds us of music’s role as a communicative device with the ability to form links between those of shared background, ethnicity and experience.