The Academy Awards are just days away — which means it’s time to buckle down and really get to know this year’s Best Picture contenders. Today’s deep-dive: John Crowley’s adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s 2009 novel about one woman’s journey from her home of Ireland to a completely new life — and new love — in America, Brooklyn.
Tweetable description: A young Irish woman crosses the Atlantic in 1952 to pursue better possibilities stateside, where she battles homesickness and finds love.
Movie math: (The Immigrant ÷ 2) + Lost in Translation + (.25 x Like Crazy) = Brooklyn
Release date: Nov. 4, 2015
DVD release date: n/a
Run time: 1 hrs., 51 mins.
Box office: $34.2 million (through Feb. 15)
Budget: $11 million, reportedly
What Chris Nashawaty said: “Although Brooklyn is technically a love story, it’s unfair to stop there. It’s about discovering who you are regardless of where you find yourself. And [Saoirse Ronan], who’s made a habit of giving us sparkling turns since she was a kid in 2007’s Atonement, delivers a dazzlingly mature performance.” B+
Best line: “You’ll feel so homesick that you’ll want to die, and there’s nothing you can do about it apart from endure it. But you will, and it won’t kill you. And one day, the sun will come out you might not even notice straight away. It’ll be that faint. And then you’ll catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past — someone who’s only yours. And you’ll realize that this is where your life is.” —Eilis (Saoirse Ronan)
Number of Oscar nods: Three. Aside from Best Picture, Ronan also nabbed a nod for Best Actress and Nick Hornby got one for Best Screenplay.
Brooklyn‘s Oscar history: Ronan was nominated for her role as a precocious and hypercorrect sister in Atonement. Hornby got his first screenwriting nod in 2010 for An Education. Producers Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey were also nominated for their work on An Education, which starred Carey Mulligan as a British girl in love at a similar age as Ronan’s Eilis.
What it’s won thus far: Brooklyn beat out movies including The Danish Girl and Amy for Best British Film at the BAFTA Awards. Ronan has won several Best Actress awards, including the prize from the British Independent Film Awards and the New York Film Critics Circle.
Why it should win: The best movies reflect something relatably honest and true, but depict it in a way you haven’t experienced before. That’s exactly what Brooklyn does by transporting the audience to 1950s New York and Ireland, thrusting viewers into Eilis’ terrified-but-optimistic shoes with captivating portrayals of life’s mundanity: There’s Eilis getting sick on the rocky boat ride over, and trying to work through her tears at the department store, and then learning how to properly eat spaghetti ahead of her first dinner with Tony’s Italian-American family. Scenes like these show how simultaneously ordinary — who hasn’t snuck away to shed some tears mid-shift? — and onerous her journey is without ever resorting to exaggerated drama or forced plot devices. It’s a subtle film filled with quietly moving moments that together form a portrait of a brave young woman slowly but surely finding herself and her way in the new and old world.
Why it won’t win: Best Picture winners should be bigger — or at least feel that way. Brooklyn is an all-around beautiful film, and its power lies in how universal it is, how overwhelmingly lovely it is. But Eilis’ greatest struggles — her homesickness, her family’s loss — are presented without much fanfare, a quality that gives the film some of its magic but sets it apart from typical Oscar winners that tend to address high drama and high stakes over subtle sadness. It’s ironic then that one of its greatest strengths as a film is also its flaws when it comes to actually taking home the top prize. Brooklyn is a wonderful viewing experience, though not necessarily the searingly intense one Oscar typically chooses.
Vegas Odds: 150/1, according to Paddy Power betting website, making it the category’s second biggest longshot.