I expressed a strongly negative opinion about Lenny Abrahamson and Emma Donoghue‘s Room after seeing it at the Toronto Film Festival on Tuesday, 9.14, and again after this glum maternal instinct drama won the TIFF audience award six days later. “This can’t be happening,” I said to myself. “A film that I hated is going to be Best Picture nominated?” For a while I thought I might try and lead the troops in a grand XY-chromosone pushback campaign.
Then I spoke this morning to an Academy member who has been a kind of bellwether of industry sentiments in years past. After saying he was respectful but mezzo-mezzo on Spotlight, he mentioned that he’s seen Room and that he’s giving it a thumbs-up. He said that while Room is a tough sit, it’s nonetheless a strong film that accomplishes its goals. He actually seemed to be giving it a higher grade than Spotlight….good God.
And then he said something else that made me want to just collapse on the floor and curl up and die. He said that he stepped out into the lobby during the latter part of the Room screening he attended (or just after it ended — I forget which) and he noticed a somewhat older woman who was weeping alone. Now, she may have been weeping about something entirely unrelated to Room but what are the odds of that?
“Okay, that’s it,” I muttered to myself when I heard this story. This film can’t be stopped. It almost certainly won’t win Best Picture because viewers like myself (plenty out there) will find it agonizing to sit through, but it’ll be nominated and Brie Larson will almost certainly land a Best Actress nomination besides. Either way the game is over and my side has lost. I hereby surrender my samurai sword to Vanity Fair‘s Katey Rich and Oscar strategist Lisa Taback, who is repping the film for A24.
And I still won’t get any Phase One Room ads from Open Road because I still need to be punished for hating on it a few days ago. That’s the way the game works. If you don’t like a potential Best Picture contender you have to shit on it deftly and politely if you want Phase One ads from the film’s distributor. You can’t pan it with a big, wet, giant-sized paintbrush like I did. You have to pan it with watercolors and delicate little flickstrokes, in the manner of Georges Seurrat.