Hot Take: The best film of 2015.
Tonight is Oscar night and at this point, all signs point to The Revenant winning Best Picture. If another film pulls off the upset it will likely be Spotlight, Mad Max: Fury Road or The Big Short. The rest of the nominees don’t stand much of a chance. This includes the year’s best film: Room.
While Spotlight and The Big Short evoked a lot of emotion, some of that emotion was helped along by the true stories they were inspired by. Without Spotlight, it’s still saddening to think of the atrocities covered up by the Catholic Church in an effort to protect their image. Without The Big Short, it’s still angering to think of the greed and corruption of the banks and the crash of the housing market and economy.
The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road are cinematic achievements thanks to the work behind the camera to enhance what is happening in front of the camera. If you strip away all of the brilliant directing and cinematography, the stories of both are lacking.
Then there’s Room. The film packs an emotional punch that takes the wind out of you from the very beginning and never really let’s you catch your breath. It’s very easy to imagine Room taking place in reality even though the story is complete fiction. And Room doesn’t evoke one emotion, it evokes many. The film paints an emotional spectrum with a broad brush. Room is one of the most depressing films I’ve ever seen yet these flickering moments of humor and pure joy that come from the movie are what makes the film truly special.
There aren’t any bear attacks or a living, breathing post-apocalyptic landscape to catapult Room cinematically. However, the shots of Room are so well done and enhance the mood of the film without showing off or silently bragging. The images are subtle but striking and they stay with you for a long time. On the surface, they aren’t anything special but when tied to the story, they are exquisite and nearly flawless.
SPOILER ALERT THE REST OF THE WAY…
If you don’t become completely invested in the characters of Room, I’m not sure you’re human. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are both phenomenal in their roles. The terrible plight of Jack and his Ma imprisoned in a small shack (referred to as “Room”) for 5 years takes up the majority of the movie. It’s tense, sad, disturbing and dark. The way Larson’s character protects Jack’s innocence from the awfulness happening around him is gutwrenching. The lengths she goes to to preserve Jack’s childhood are inspiring. And when she needs Jack to grow up in a hurry as she devises a plan for the two and he won’t cooperate (as many 5 year olds would not), you share in her frustration and desperation. Larson should rightfully walk away with the Best Actress award tonight without question.
Jack (played by Tremblay) highlights the second half of the film as he experiences the outside world for the first time. While everyone around him is an emotional disaster, Jack learns what it is like to experience something more than Room. His ability to adjust is a testament to the sacrifices made by his Ma to insure he held on to that innocence. In reality, it’s hard not to imagine what Jack experienced catching up to him later in life and collapsing on him like a ton of bricks but it’s hopeful to think maybe it was handled perfectly and Jack will be perfectly adjusted and completely fine.
Then you remember this is fiction. But it feels so real.
- Brie Larson
If she doesn’t win the award for Best Actress, it’s an injustice.
- Jacob Tremblay
The best performance by a young actor in a long time. The most memorable since Natalie Portman in The Professional.
- Everything Else
This film is special. There’s no discounting the excellence of the other nominees for this year’s Best Picture but this is the one truly great film of 2015.