There have been Oscar years in the recent past where it could be said that the Best Actress category was fairly weak. As the film festival circuit rolls along, it’s becoming increasingly clear this will not be the case in 2015. Already there is strong momentum going for Carey Mulligan in Suffragette, Cate Blanchett in Carol, Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn, and Lily Tomlin in Grandma. It remains to be seen whether Alicia Vikander will be campaigned for in the Actress or Supporting Actress race, but her work in The Danish Girl looks to be recognized either way. And there’s still Jennifer Lawrence’s work in David O. Russell’s Joy to be seen, among others.
We have another contender brought forth by the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals with Brie Larson’s performance in the indie pic Room. Based on Emma Donoghue’s bestseller, the film casts Larson as a mom who’s trapped with her 5 year old son in a garden shed for a seven year period. Sounds like heady stuff and reviews coming out of the festivals have highlighted Larson’s work as award worthy. The real question is whether the picture is seen and released widely enough to vault the actress into real contention. It certainly seems possible and some critics have noted that Room could break through to audiences.
While reviews are positive and it sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, they’re probably not quite strong enough to put this into the Best Picture race. Some reviewers have taken notice of Joan Allen’s role and she could find herself in the mix for Supporting Actress. There’s even a slight possibility that the young man playing the son, Jacob Tambley, could be a long shot in Supporting Actor (I wouldn’t count on it though).
The real story is Larson. Two years ago, she was the subject of awards buzz for her indie flick Short Term 12, but it never panned out. She’s been highly visible over the years in supporting parts in hits like 21 Jump Street and Trainwreck and Room is beginning to look like her first legit shot at Academy attention.