Brie Larson and “Room” are bigger contenders than expected so far this season

room brie larson
Slowly but surely, it seems like Room is turning into the little film that could. Initially thought to be a fringe contender of sorts, it’s been gaining steam as the weeks pass. Between a big win at the Toronto International Film Festival and buzz that lead actress Brie Larson could be on her way not just to her first nomination but to a win as well, this flick has become something truly to reckon with. It begins its theatrical run in limited release this Friday and happens to be one of the best movies of the year so far, so if it becomes an Oscar player, all the better.

The film is an adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s well regarded novel (which she adapted herself) of the same name. It’s about a mother named Ma (played by Larson) and her young son Jack (played by Jacob Tremblay) who are trapped in a small confined space for about a half decade. Ma knows of the outside world, obviously, from before she was kidnapped, but this room is all that Jack knows, so when an escape from captivity is planned, it’s not all sunshine and roses for either. Their one room prison was home, so a terrifying transition must now be made, with unexpected results. Filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson directs Donoghue’s script, with the cast aside from Larson and Tremblay including Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, William H. Macy, Tom McCamus, and more. On a technical level, the cinematography is by Danny Cohen. It all suggested a potential Academy friendly player, but it’s exceeded all expectations so far.

I was blown away by the acting from both Larson and Tremblay. Larson is a surefire Best Actress nominee and a real threat to win the Oscar, while in a just world Tremblay would be nominated in Best Actor for his incredible performance. He’s going to be competing in Best Supporting Actor though, which is a shame, though I’ll still be rooting for him to score that nod. A child acting nom is hard to come by, and some of the buzz will be eaten up by Abraham Atta in Beasts of No Nation, but I do hope that Tremblay is given a fair shake. Larson is going to do just fine on her own, as she was already in contention. The love for the film and honors so far on the whole have just helped to turn her into a potential frontrunner. Abrahamson also takes a tight script by Donoghue and keeps it well paced and visually interesting, so he certainly deserves a pat on the back as well. He won’t get the awards attention that Larson will, but he’s just as responsible for this success story.

Speaking of awards, expect a full on campaign for Room to be forged. There’s the potential for an incredible haul, consisting of Best Picture, Best Director (for Abrahamson), Best Actress (for Larson), Best Supporting Actor (for Macy and/or especially Tremblay), Best Supporting Actress (for Allen), Best Adapted Screenplay (for Donoghue), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing. Realistically, it will probably be Picture, Actress (for Larson), and Adapted Screenplay (for Donoghue) that are achievable gets, but anything is possible. Even those three being considered almost safe bets is a huge success for an initially small title that would have been happy just to contend.

This weekend, audiences in New York and Los Angeles will get a glimpse at what pundits like myself have been raving about when Room opens in limited release. It’s really quite a great film, one that deserves your attention. It’s a movie that will contend for a spot on my year end Top Ten list, but also will be heavily in play for Academy Award nominations. Don’t you dare miss this flick, which is not just Oscar friendly, but an emotional experience that needs to be seen. Larson and Tremblay alone make this worth seeing, but the writing and direction help to make it a must see. You can thank me later…

Be sure to see Room, in theaters starting today!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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