With Oscar season in full swing, it’s time for people to catch up on movies that are buzzing. In some cases, there are movies that have an all-but-certain lock on an award, be it for acting, visual effects, etc. This year, one of those locks goes to Brie Larson for Best Actress in “Room.” In any other year, this movie would also have a strong shot at getting Best Picture as well. However, given our fragmented and diverse field, nothing is certain. That said, it’s one of the most emotionally powerful movies to come out in a long time.
Joy Newsome (Brie Larson) lives her days in a one-room garden shed with her five-year-old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who calls her Ma, and is held captive by a man who’s known only as “Old Nick” (Sean Bridgers). The day is spent watching TV, cooking, teaching Jack about different things, and doing things like making egg snakes or learning different things. However, come night, she hides Jack in a wardrobe while Old Nick comes into the shed primarily to have sex with Joy. Through some clever thinking, Joy convinces Old Nick that Jack is dead, and Jack is carried out in an attempt to call for help and free them. The attempt is successful, but adjusting to the real world carries its own drama.
The movie, based on the book by the same name, largely revolves around Joy and Jack as she readjusts to everyday life and he learns about the outside world and live in it for the first time. It’s a very small-scale production, with little flash but plenty of dramatic tension. Where the film’s strengths lie is with its acting, writing and direction, all of which are excellent.
The screenplay, written by the book’s author, Emma Donoghue, doesn’t veer into more sensational directions, though the drama is certainly high in this movie. Director Lenny Abrahamson maintains a sharp focus on the story and is able to bring out several excellent performances in his talented cast. It’s always good to see either William H. Macy or Joan Allen onscreen, and the fact that they’re both onscreen as Joy’s parents in this movie is terrific. (It’s worth noting that they were also parents in “Pleasantville.”) However, the film is owned by Tremblay and Larson, and they hold claim to two of the best performances of this year. Tremblay shouldn’t be dismissed as a child actor: his performance (though snubbed by the Academy) rivals that of any of the big names circulating today. And Larson should just receive the award already. This is a performance that will be talked about for years, not just as her breakthrough but of why she will be one of the most on-demand actresses in the near future.
Emotionally, “Room” is the best picture of the year. I even cried at one point during the movie because of how emotional the situation was. Larson and Tremblay bleed emotion and mastery in this movie, and these two characters are what carry the film. Given this year’s field of nominees, however, it’s unlikely that the Academy will recognize it as Best Picture. If they deny Larson her award, however, then there’s no justice.