Right now, Brie Larson has a "Room" of her own atop the Best Actress nominees. She owns the best odds to win (23/10), according to the latest predix by our Oscar geniuses at Gold Derby. Larson, 26, has the backing of 11 out of 20 experts making picks at Gold Derby.
On Thursday she got a big boost, nabbing a Gotham nomination for Best Actress, along with Cate Blanchett ("Carol"), her current rival for the win at 7/2 odds. Also nominated were Blythe Danner ("I’ll See You in My Dreams"), Bel Powley ("The Diary of a Teenage Girl"), Lily Tomlin ("Grandma") and Kristen Wiig ("Welcome to Me").
The Gothams are significant for Larson, who has had mainstream hits in "21 Jump Street" and "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World." On the awards circuit, she broke through to win Best Actress at these Manhattan based awards in 2013 for the widely-praised, low-budget drama "Short Term 12." She played a struggling counselor at a shabby juvenile detention center.
Oscar newbies might think “Brie WHO? She’s nobody – she can’t possibly win.” Not true. The Oscars have a long history of suddenly pointing the spotlight on a blossoming ingénue. Larson fits the bill — although she may have competition in "Brooklyn"'s Saoirse Ronan.
Often these talented starlets get anointed first by the early film-critics’ awards (NY and LA) bestowed in early December, thus powering them into the early derby. Like Hilary Swank in "Boys Don’t Cry" or Jennifer Lawrence in "Winter's Bone," Ellen Page in "Juno" or Elisabeth Shue for "Leaving Las Vegas."
And then there's simply the ingénue as Oscar-winner, like Audrey Hepburn for "Roman Holiday" in 1953.
Sometimes being the critics' darling doesn't boost the actress beyond that first early nomination and acclaim. While Larson wasn’t nominated by the academy for "Short Term 12," the standout star and her movie had a significant Oscar profile because the script had won an academy Nicholl Fellowship. AMPAS members considered director/writer Destin Daniel Cretton one of their own — a major discovery — so his film was widely seen at academy screenings following its Audience Award at SXSW.
"Short Term 12" positioned Larson as a promising talent; "Room" takes the actress to the next level. Oscar watchers know that past performances matter – from Michael Keaton jumping from a "Birdman" nomination to a potential "Spotlight" win; and Melissa Leo skipping from "Frozen River" to a win for "The Fighter."
Larson may not be a household name, yet, but she's paid her dues. She's the odds-on favorite to find a return on her investment with a Best Actress nomination and the potential for a win.
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Photo: Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay in "Room." Credit: A24