Telluride film festival: ‘Room’ could earn Brie Larson her first Oscar nomination

Lenny Abrahamson‘s “Room” had its world premiere at the Telluride film festival on Saturday. Indie darling Brie Larson earned stellar notices for her performance as kidnap victom who bears a child by her captor. Also singled out were newcomer Jacob Tremblay as her son and Oscar nominees Joan Allen and William H. Macy as her embittered parents as well as Emma Donoghue for adapting her acclaimed 2010 novel of the same name.

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Two years ago Larson earned BFCA and Indie Spirit bids for her performance in “Short Term 12”; she lost both those races to eventual Oscar champ Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”) who currently leads our predictions again this year for her work in “Carol.” Larson sits in eighth place on our Oscar prediction chart for Best Actress, buoyed by the backing of two of our Oscar experts.

Critics praised her performance in their reviews of “Room” (see below), which also screens at the Toronto filmfest before A24 releases it on Oct. 16. After reading these excerpts, be sure to make your Oscar predictions for Best Actress. Don’t worry, you can keep changing them right up until nominations are announced on Jan. 14. 

Pete Hammond (Deadline) enthused, “there are multiple possibilities for nominations: for Larson as Best Actress in a gut-wrenching, brilliant performance; perennial Oscar-nominated Joan Allen as her mother who turns up with equal power in the film’s second half; and for young Tremblay, a lead-pipe cinch for a Best Supporting Actor nomination as Jack, the young boy who has known life only in “room” as he and Ma, his mother, call it. This is one of the finest juvenile performances I have seen. It’s almost an insult to label it as such. It is right up there with any actor’s work this year to be sure.”

Justin Chang (Variety) concurred: “Joan Allen is unsurprisingly excellent in the role of Jack’s deeply relieved yet emotionally shattered grandmother, while William H. Macy makes the most of his scenes as a grandfather who can’t quite bring himself to accept his daughter’s homecoming. Tremblay, a major find, doesn’t strike a false note as a soulful, spirited child who has been so thoroughly deprived of life’s traditional necessities and pleasures that he doesn’t even want them when they finally arrive. Given the script’s built-in limitations, the actor does a remarkable job of capturing the boy’s ever-shifting thought processes, the way frustration and bewilderment can suddenly gate way to an unexpected epiphany.”

And, he added, “Her inner radiance undimmed by seven years’ worth of accumulated grime, exhaustion and defeat, Larson sometimes beams at her child with incongruous delight, and at other times gives full voice to the anger and impatience that a mother can feel toward her offspring even when they haven’t been forced to breathe the same foul air for five years. Even at its most forceful and despairing, her rage never feels like an expression of anything less than a mother’s love.” And, he added,

Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter) observed, “Entirely deglamorized and festooned with pimples and straggly hair, Larson’s Joy seems remarkably sane and emotionally steady under the heavily depressing circumstances, a tribute to her single-minded maternal devotion, even if she sees no hope of their situation changing. She is, in fact, an incredible mom, teaching her sponge-like son a good deal even if he doesn’t believe there’s an actual greater world out there.” 

Make your Oscar predictions beginning with Best Actress at the bottom of this post. You could earn a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s Oscar nominations). Last year the Top 24 Users led the way with an accuracy rate of 76.67% when it came to predicting the Oscar nominations. Next up were Gold Derby’s Editors with 74.44%, followed by the Experts with 71.11% and all Users with 68.09%. (Click on any of these groups to see what they got right and wrong last year.)

Which group will be victorious this year? Meet the guy who won our contest to predict the Oscar nominations last year — and learn how he did it and how you can be our next Gold Derby superstar. As some of our Users turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, it’s important that you give us your predictions. Your picks influence our Users racetrack odds, which also factor into our official combined odds.

Photo: Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay in “Room.”  Credit: A24

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