Ever since she warbled “New York, New York” in Shame, critics have been divided about the quality of Carey Mulligan’s voice. Some absolutely love her pretty tone and emotionally fraught tremble, where as others remain less than impressed.
As poised and graceful as Mulligan appears on stage, she was visibly nervous last night. First she sang “Go To Sleep You Little Baby” with Gillian Welch and Rhiannon Giddens and seemed adorably relieved when it was over–which she played off to the crowd. Later, she almost apologized before singing “500 Miles” and begged the audience for support. Mulligan sang the Peter, Paul and Mary classic with Stark Sands, Elvis Costello, and a massive backing band. Once she finished her solo, the generous crowd at Town Hall gave her resounding–and deserved–applause.
Mulligan’s temerity was definitely the only drawback to her performance. Folk music is full of singer-songwriters who possess varying degrees of vocal range. The only thing the greats need is the ability to convey deep emotion while holding that tune, and Mulligan can do that.7) Oscar Isaac Lives Up To The Hype…But Does He Know That He Does?
If Carey Mulligan seemed unsure of herself while singing onstage alongside folk legends, the star of Inside Llewyn Davis, Oscar Isaac, certainly didn’t. Isaac took the stage with the easy confidence of an experienced musician–because he is one. He knew how to play to the crowd and how to play off of his fellow musicians.
Now, we can’t say anything about his performance in the film yet, but The Huffington Post recently suggested that Isaac could be poised to be Hollywood’s next great leading man. The Julliard trained character actor certainly has the acting chops and the stage presence to pull it off. He illustrated last night that he’s also as good a musician and singer as the best in the business. He had a silent, but seductive, charm on stage and a megawatt smile you could see even when his back was cheated away from you. Oh, and he’s really handsome. Like, he’s ridiculously good-looking, but not so much so that you hate him for it.
If there’s one thing that could really hold Isaac back, it’s himself. When pushed into the spotlight by Marcus Mumford and T Bone Burnett, Isaac seemed at ease with himself in a confident way that was neither cocky nor insecure. He was clearly enjoying himself, but not in an ugly, attention-grubbing way. Oh, and the crowd and all his fellow performers clearly loved him.
The problem? He had to be repeatedly pushed into the spotlight as though he had forgotten he was one of the headliners. So, he can obviously handle it, but does he want it enough to step forward on his own? Does he have the hunger to be more than just one of the best actors of his generation? Does he have the ambition to be a movie star? Does he even know it’s an option for him? Because it is. He can very easily become a movie star.