Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Alternate Best Actor 2015: Jacob Tremblay in Room

Jacob Tremblay did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for SAG, for portraying Jack Newsome in Room.

Room is a good film, though I feel it does have one terrible scene, about a mother trying raise her son within the captivity of a small room.

Jacob Tremblay plays the son and as usual for a child actor, a male child actor especially, his contribution to his film was ignored by the Oscars, despite the film over performing otherwise. This in part came to his ridiculous placement as a supporting actor in the film, his SAG nomination came in that category, despite every scene being from his perspective. A rather foolish choice in every regard not only because of how absurd the idea was, but also the supporting category was far more difficult to get into than lead. If Tremblay had been campaigned in the right category he very well could have been nominated. Of course I do have the unfortunate suspicion that if he had been he would have suffered the same criticism that Quvenzhané Wallis suffered when she was successfully nominated for Best Actress for Beasts of the Southern Wild. The criticism being that somehow the performances of child actors should be ignored since the director no doubt contributed to what we see on screen, but this seems to ignore the fact that any decent director will contribute in at least in someway to every performance. If one wants to claim a child actor's performance is not worthy of an Oscar nomination or win for following the director's lead then no Oscar winning performance can even be considered deserving besides Laurence Olivier in Hamlet and Roberto Benigni in Life is Beautiful.

Anyway with that out of the way let's actually take a look at Tremblay's performance. Tremblay plays Jack who was born within a room that also houses his mother Ma (Brie Larson). The earliest scenes of the film depict the daily routine of Ma and Jack as well as the celebration of his fifth birthday inside the room. Now often time an impressive performance from a child is in a role that is in somewhat out of the ordinary like Martin Stephens in The Innocents or Hugh O'Conor in My Left Foot. Tremblay's work here is very notable in that in terms of who Jack is in these early scenes, is just a normal five year old boy. Tremblay in turn has to play a normal child, which is a bit harder than it sounds I suppose. Tremblay succeeds in actually making Jack a successfully cute kid in terms of his behavior around the room. His energy he brings to the role is endearing while never over playing it to the point that it becomes cloying. Tremblay captures the youthful enthusiasm in just the right fashion that makes Jack so likable yet he is no way one note. Tremblay makes Jack a kid whose easy to like but he's not perfect by any means. He never tries to make Jack some sort of odd embodiment of pure goodness which can too often be the case for kids in films.

Now a central aspect of the film is found in Jack's view of the world which has been shaped by his mother in order to stop him from seeing that horrible truth of their situation, which is that his mother is a captive and is raped by her kidnapper every night. The mother has in part created this through telling Jack that the room they are in are basically the whole world, and everything that comes from the outside is a sort of magic. Tremblay realizes this state of Jack's incredibly well as he captures the needed thrill in Jack towards the idea of being able to marvel at life, even though it's just in one Room, because his mother has built it up to be something rather special in his mind, his curiosity to see more is satisfied by making the little that the room is seem like more than it is. When his mother decides to undergo an escape plan which involves Jack being smuggled out of the room though, she must attempt to break this strict view of the world she has given him. Again I love how well Tremblay realizes the raw anger of a child having to deal with something he does not fully understand, in the moments where Jack lashes again his mother. He makes it feel only ever very real, and is effective by showing Jack's painful struggle to deal with a sudden break off from much of what he has been told since he was born.

The escape scene itself is an amazing moment for Tremblay as he finally is allowed to see what's outside of that small room. Tremblay's initial reaction is so beautifully played as his eyes are that of a boy whose whole perception has grown exponentially. He's terrific in finding that difficulty in Jack's escape by showing how every one of his senses seem overloaded in the moment. He's barely able to walk, or talk as Tremblay so naturally finds the intensity of the moment as Jack attempts to deal with reality completely on his own. Tremblay is able to find both the fear and the wonderment of the revelation. Jack does not get to deal with this for long though as he still is on task to attempt to save his mother who was left in the room. As he's instantly pressed with questions to find his mother, Tremblay is so good in showing the way Jack fights through his own terrible unease to attempt to help his mother. Eventually she is found though and Jack's journey only continues into the unknown that is the rest of the world. Tremblay does well to reveal Jack back in his comfort zone when directly interacting with his mother, though filled with questions due to all the new things, though whenever a stranger appears he reveals so genuinely the trepidation in Jack as he closes off towards his mother the one thing he can hold on from his old world.

Now in that something that needs to be noted is his pitch perfect chemistry with Brie Larson as Jack's Ma. Their mother/son bond is made something quite special by both actors due to the lack of simplicity of it all. The two have the needed warmth of course as they are so comfortable together and the years between the two can be keenly felt in every interaction. I love that the two are able to go beyond just a loving relationship though as the two are equally fantastic in finding the right tensions at times particularly when Jack insists on the fantasy of the room, while his mother insists on questioning it. The two eloquently begin to shift the relationship when they find freedom, which comes as the two have different mental struggles to deal with, Jack in adapting the open world, but Ma has to come to terms with the scars from the horrible ordeal that she endured for seven years. The two keep the needed underlying connection suggesting the unconditional love between the two, though a distance is slowly found, even before it is physically created, due to Ma no longer being just Ma, and having to deal with what happened to who she once was. This requires Jack to fully break off from what he knew life as in the room.

The film actually much more closely focuses upon Jack's adaptation to his new life, and Tremblay only continues to be absolutely remarkable in the role. He never rushes the adjustment as every moment goes by with Jack slowly breaking out of his shell created by his old life. Tremblay's performance again never allows for a simplification of the process. There is naturally Jack finding everything new where Tremblay brings the appropriate fascination in Jack as each new thing is something completely remarkable in his eyes. There are the moments we're he's just becoming acquainted with his new family, and Tremblay slowly loses the shyness in Jack through his time with them. What I love about Tremblay's work with Jack finding his relationships with his grandmother, and step-grandfather, is how genuine every single instance of their interaction is. There is only a real poignancy found in this without it ever feeling forced in the least. Again it is not all good as Jack also has to discover his mother's decaying state, and Tremblay is very moving in portraying Jack's concern particularly the heartbreaking moment where he discovers her suicide attempt. The good and the bad he goes threw adjusts Jack to the world and Tremblay's depiction earns this adjustment. Not only that he makes it a quietly powerful one to witness. Tremblay, despite the incorrect category claim, carries this film on his little shoulders. This is a performance that is a joy to watch as he so flawlessly navigates through the film which would not have worked if we did not believe in the boy, we do through Jacob Tremblay. I love Tremblay's work here that does not falter even when the film does somewhat. It's a great performance that deserves to stand right next to any adult leading turn from 2015.

70 comments:

Calvin Law said...

I knew you'd give him a 5. He really was great.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Have to admit I was impressed. I was kinda surprised how he managed to be precocious without ever being obnoxious about it. Plus he kinda reminds me of a little cousin I have.

MiloTindle said...

Louis, and your thoughts (and rate) on Brie Larson?

PS. I also love the Joan Allen's performance.

GM said...

Great review for a great performance.

Alex Marqués said...

YES, he really deserves that rating. Great work.

Alex Marqués said...

By the way, what is the scene that you consider terrible Louis?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I'm over the moon with this rating and review. The first Male Lead child performance to get a 5 from you. :)

Luke Higham said...

Alex: The Interview Scene.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Where would Tremblay rank in your top 5 child performances list.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is your Lead Actress Top 3 the same as before or is Ronan your winner.

Michael McCarthy said...

Yes! He and Segel are the only two in this lineup who's ratings I'm especially invested in. And I had a feeling he would be the highest rated child performance this year...

Calvin Law said...

Hope everyone is a 5 from here on.

Psifonian said...

With Tremblay, Attah, and Quvenzhane Wallis out there, I feel the future of acting is secure.

Alex Marqués said...

With six 5's for the lead category so far, I'm really interested in how is going to look the overall list.

Luke Higham said...

Alex: 7 fives, as Louis upped Hardy for Mad Max on Hoult's review.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I wholeheartedly agree. :)

Luke Higham said...

Is anyone looking forward to The Witch.

Alex Marqués said...

Me!

Robert MacFarlane said...

Seeing it tonight.

Luke Higham said...

I hope it's gonna be great. :)

GM said...

The interview scene meeeh

I hope not everyone is a five from here on.

Anonymous said...

He was amazing.
Louis: What kept you from giving Fonda a 5 for The Grapes of Wrath?

Michael McCarthy said...

Out of the remaining 4, the only one who wouldn't get a 5 from me is McKellen, but Louis seemed to really like him when he gave thoughts on Mr. Holmes.

Luke Higham said...

I'm getting the feeling he's being saved for last.

Calvin Law said...

Still on the McKellen train for a 5 and win. Though actually Tremblay's review does look like a winning review too. I personally think out of the remaining few actors, Fassbender would be the most likely to not get a 5...which is very unlikely.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait for McKellen to be reviewed.

Anonymous said...

I hope that this little fellow will grow up to be a great actor.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: Me too.

Alex Marqués said...

I hope McKellen gets a 5, his last scenes in the movie were just amazing IMO

Deiner said...

He was absolutely amazing. Great review Louis.

Anonymous said...

I hope Hardy comes next.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts and ratings for The Man In The Glass Booth and Sorcerer?

Luke Higham said...

Robert: Your thoughts on The Witch.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'm leaving to see it right now.

Luke Higham said...

Robert: Can I have them when you get back, as well as the cast.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Sorry, change of plans, staying in for the night. Tomorrow afternoon.

Luke Higham said...

Robert: That's alright. :)

RatedRStar said...

Wallis is definitely not the future of acting lol she hasn't done anything of note since her Oscar Nom.

Calvin Law said...

But she was brilliant in Beasts of the Southern Wild. No saying that immediately makes her great but...

RatedRStar said...

Most child actors do not actually usually become the future, its usually an actor in their late 20s (who are just starting)

Alex Marqués said...

Yeah, the only exception I can think of is Christian Bale

Robert MacFarlane said...

Kurt Russell would like a word with you.

Calvin Law said...

Kurt Russell
Christian Bale
Jodie Foster
Dean Stockwell
Jason Bateman
Natalie Portman (although she did hit her high point as a child actress)
Brandon de Wilde
Natalie Wood

To name but a few.

RatedRStar said...

That isnt a great list lol, Christian Bale and Jodie Foster would be, none of the others were. There is a greater list of people in their 20s that hit the big time.

It doesn't count if the person has starred in mostly bad films, so thats half that list destroyed, so Kurt Russell will not be having a word with me, De Wilde died young so thats him out the running, same with River Phoenix, Natalie Wood had some good years then disappeared off the face of the planet, and then died so she wasn't the future, as for Stockwell he was in and out, did plenty of fine enough work as a child, then turned adult, did 2 good films, then disappeared off the planet, returning in the late 80s with some good work then disappeared again, hardly future leading man type.

The future of acting does not mean, just the next set of actors that will be around, it means the next set of Gary Oldmans, and Tom Hardys, who are gonna be in good film year after year or at least having a massive spell of good films.

Calvin Law said...

I'm just saying they were all good enough actors, and I'm not denying the fact that more actors hit the big time in their 20's. But then there's those who hit fame in the 30's, 40's, 50's, even 60's, so what I'm saying is that really there's no accounting for when an actor will breakout.

RatedRStar said...

Calvin: Good point =D.

Calvin Law said...

Triple 9: a pretty lacklustre script which I have no idea what the hype was about, the script is far too thin on characters and far too thick with plot. However the action sequences are well-handled, several tense scenes are genuinely compelling, and the acting is mostly good.

Affleck: 3.5 (his character is particularly thin and one-dimensional, with absolutely no arc whatsoever, however his character creation is rather good as he makes a convincingly rough, raw and moralistic figure, and really delivers in his crucial scenes)
Winslet: 2.5 (her accent was fairly off and she doesn't have much to do, but she has some pretty interestingly done scenes with Ejiofor)
Ejiofor: 4 (he has the most to work with, even though it is a bit muddled in terms of the writing, and he makes the most of it, he's suitably callous and dark when need be but also retains an undercurrent of morality to it all that makes it clear that while Belmont's not a good person, he's not without goodness in him)
Mackie: 3.5 (his character is basically a simpler, more cynical, heartless version of Ejiofor's who slowly finds a bit of a moral compass within him, Mackie really delivers in his scenes with Affleck as they have this effective anti-chemistry that makes them work quite well. Past that he just has to be an intimidating tough guy which he does well)
Reedus: 2.5 (good but far too little to do)
Paul: 3 (suitably nervy and paranoid and makes himself stand out well enough from the rest of the crew)
Collins Jr.: 3 (pretty good at being the worst and slimiest of the lot, not a lot to do but he makes an enjoyably hateful figure quite entertaining to watch, although as is usuall the case with Collins I would've liked more of him)
Harrelson: 3 (he's very much on autopilot here but at least he's entertaining in doing his whole good cop with a bad attitude routine)

Anonymous said...

RatedRStar: For 1963-1969 bonus supporting, what nominees do you have?

RatedRStar said...

Calvin: I think it might have been Robert who predicted that the film wouldnt be too good, might have been someone else, like about 5 or 6 months ago or summat?

Anonymous: 1967 isnt finished yet, of course this isnt final choices.

http://snag.gy/ffYEJ.jpg

Anonymous said...

RatedRStar: Have you already made the spreadsheet for Lead1963-1969, or it's still being worked on?

RatedRStar said...

Anonymous: Ive made it, I just cut the page like a pair of scissors =D.

Anonymous said...

RatedRStar: Having watched some clips of The Lusty Men, I have to say you made a good choice not to include Kennedy (he's miscast for the role).

RatedRStar said...

Anonymous: Good old Arthur, I can always rely on him to let me down =).

Anonymous said...

RatedRStar: I liked Mitchum (he called it one of his favorite role) in the clips I've seen, but I wonder how Louis will think of him, since the film is directed by Ray.

Anonymous said...

R.I.P. Harper Lee

ruthiehenshallfan99 said...

Anonymous: What did you think of Susan Hayward?



RIP Harper Lee

Anonymous said...

ruthiehenshallfan99: I liked her as well, but not as much as Mitchum.

Anonymous said...

RatedRStar: Noticed that in your 1959 supporting lineup, you have Perkins and Astaire for On the Beach, which stars Peck. Is he good in that?

Calvin Law said...

RIP Harper Lee.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your ratings and thoughts on:
David Niven in Wuthering Heights
Raymond Massey in The Woman in the Window
Minoru Chiaki in The Lower Depths
Rex Harrison in The Citadel
Anthony Franciosa in A Face in the Crowd

Calvin Law said...

Very pleased to see Ossie Davis in The Scalphunters on your list, RatedRStar.

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar:

The future Best Actor and Best Actress winners are also former child actors.

Anonymous:

Niven - 2.5(He's fine. He does not have much to do though, and doesn't too much with the little he has)

Massey - 2.5(He's good with a very limited part, but just is there to be a concerned authority figure. He succeeds in that but that's all there is to it)

Chiaki - 3.5(Chiaki as usual brings a great deal of character in his scenes, and does well in his usual type of role which is that of the slightly goofy fellow)

Harrison - (He's enjoyably suave yet sleazy in his very brief screentime, and does a good job of personifying the fake medical work his character is promoting)

Franciosa - 1 Wiseau (He's mostly just forgettable until the scene where he's confronted by Andy Griffith. Then we get some good old terrible ridiculous over the top goodness badness from him. "We're in BED!!!!!!"")

Anonymous said...

Louis: Was Fonda close to a 5 for Grapes of Wrath?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is the review coming tonight.

RatedRStar said...

Anonymous: Pecks performance in On The Beach is almost a carbon copy of his performance in Twelve O Clock High which means I thought he was fine and commanding enough even if he is a little bland at certain points, he is perhaps a bit better here as he is supposed to be always in control of the situation and at least doesn't have a poor breakdown scene like in the former film.

Calvin Law: Awesome =D, having seen Davis in The Hill I was very keen to see him in his Globe nominated work.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

No, and there's no obvious problems with performance. It's kind of the slightly intangible something special that holds him back for me.

Luke:

Give me about 10 seconds.

RatedRStar said...

Louis: I stand corrected....., anyway do you reckon that some of the years for the bonus years could have 10 nominees? especially if they are highly regarded as I can think of a few =).

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar:

Yes I think 2011 will already be that way.

Louis Morgan said...

Milo:

Alright I noticed I never gave my precise thoughts on Larson.

4.5(I really think highly of her performance especially in the room. Again her chemistry with Tremblay is perfect, and I love how well she finds the warmth of the relationship. She fulfills so well the role of the mother protective and loving of her son, but also fierce towards her protection of him. I love the way she interweaves the obvious trauma of the situation in her eyes, while keeping fairly hidden from Jack most of the time. When she leaves the room I do think her impact is diminished, as the film proves to be Jack's story in the end. Larson still is strong in the glimpses we see of her, and in portraying her quickly decaying state)

Antonio Djordjevic said...

Louis, could you rank best actress nominees? (if you have seen all of them ofc) Here is my ranking. Although they are all very good and the difference between first and fourth is not that big. Lawrence was clearly the weakest. But she was still good in Joy.

1 Rampling
2 Larson
3 Blanchett
4 Ronan
5 Lawrence