Of all the Oscar contenders I've seen this year, nothing comes close to the visionary masterpiece of "Room." This story of an imprisoned young woman (Brie Larson) and her five-year-old son (Jacob Tremblay) has already won top prizes at the Toronto and Vancouver film festivals, so it seems I'm not alone in my admiration. But will Oscar voters be willing to enter the frighteningly raw, yet beautiful world of "Room"? Let's focus on five key races where "Room" deserves Oscar gold.
This one's a no-brainer. If you're the best film of the year, you deserve to win Best Picture.
However, time and time again at the Oscars we see big-budget, star-studded fare beat the little indies that could, like "Birdman" swooping in on "Whiplash" last year, or "Argo" taking down those "Beasts of the Southern Wild" in 2012.
"Room" deserves to thrive in a Best Picture lineup filled with big films like "Bridge of Spies," "The Hateful Eight," "Joy" and "Steve Jobs," but for that to happen Oscar voters will first need to remove their Hollywood blinders.
"We made it in a very life-affirming spirit," said director Lenny Abrahamson during his Gold Derby Q&A with Daniel Montgomery last month. "The focus of the film is on the relationship between the mother and the son, on its durability, on its value and on this love story." The truth of the matter is, Abrahamson had the nearly impossible task of directing a film almost entirely inside a small room, yet he made the set feel enormous, magical, even alive. In lesser hands, "Room" would have felt more like "Hole."
As "Room's" broken Joy "Ma" Newsome, Brie Larson shows range and vulnerability beyond her years. Many Oscar pundits thought she should have been nominated two years ago for "Short Term 12," but it wasn't to be. The good news for Larson is that she should have no trouble getting into the lineup this year for "Room" — in fact, Gold Derby's Oscar predictions currently favor her to win Best Actress.
Best Supporting Actor
The film's distributor, A24, is campaigning Jacob Tremblay in the supporting race, which is more hospitable to younger actors than the lead category. If this talented nine-year-old ends up winning the Oscar, he will become the youngest competitive champ in the history of the Academy Awards. That honor currently belongs to Tatum O'Neal, who was 10 when she prevailed as Best Supporting Actress for "Paper Moon" (1973).
Best Adapted Screenplay
Emma Donoghue wrote the script for this film based on her acclaimed novel of the same name that was a Booker Prize finalist in 2010. An Oscar would be the ultimate icing on the cake. Donoghue's biggest competition is likely to be Hollywood favorite Aaron Sorkin ("Steve Jobs"), but since he already won an Oscar for writing "The Social Network" (2010) might voters be interested in moving on to someone new?
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Photo Credit: A24 Films