Emma Donoghue translates her distinctive book into this screenplay about a young woman and her five-year-old son being held captive in a 10x10 room. Irish director Lenny Abrahamson (“Frank”) brings the screenplay to life, and it will jerk tears. It also jerked a Best Actress Oscar for Brie Larson, who sacrifices just about every emotion for this movie. It missed out on the other three Oscars it was nominated for – Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. But this one is all about the complicated performances, which include the introduction of the young and delightful Jacob Tremblay, who takes turns dominating these scenes with Larson. Among a powerful cast, Joan Allen also stands out for her dependability factor. It’s just a great drama with great acting and worth a watch.
I could talk about Michael B. Jordon (who happens to be black) being robbed of a Best Actor Oscar nomination after he took the reins of the “Rocky” franchise and ran with it. Or I could talk about Ryan Coogler (who happens to be black) being robbed twice of a Best Director nomination, first for 2013’s “Fruitvale Station,” and now, really reinventing Rocky for another generation. No, let’s talk about Sylvester Stallone. He did get an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for reprising Philly’s fictional hero. He didn’t win, but this movie deserves some notice. Coogler manages to regain the tone of the early films. Jordon and Stallone have a real chemistry. The female costars, Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad, pack their share of punches. There are plenty of nods to the real boxing world. So what if it didn’t win any awards, it’s still worth a watch.
“The Danish Girl”
Eddie Redmayne won the Best Actor Oscar last year for his portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking, and he barely missed it this year when he took on the role of Danish artist Lili Elbe, a pioneering transgender in 1920’s Copenhagen. His costar Alicia Vikander did take home a golden statue for Best Supporting Actress. Director Tom Hooper (“The King's Speech”) layers this film with rich textures, and his actors move within these textures. First, it’s the art world. Then, there are levels of relationships. Then, it’s identity. Then, it becomes society and cultural norms. Redmayne and Vikander interpret the time and the place for us. They weave chemistry into Elbe’s fascinating story. Yes, it’s an Oscar period piece, but this girl doesn’t bore. In fact, it’s worth a watch.