Two Academy Award nominees and a feel-good TV show are this week's picks.
Hello, dedicated Binge Blog readers!
Your usual host, Ryan Kohn, decided to go gallivanting around Europe, so I’m stealing Binge Blog.
I’m kidding. He’ll be back next week with much better sarcasm and overall movie awareness than I provide below.
But, let’s give this a shot together.
I asked Ryan if there were any guidelines to this, and my only instruction was to make sure at least one film or show I discuss is not R-rated. We have to keep up our family paper reputation after all.
I put a lot of thought into this. I had to choose respectable shows and flicks. I could have easily suggested watching the latest season of “The Bachelorette” on ABC’s website because frankly that is how I have spent the past three months’ worth of Monday nights. I also could have simply rewritten the entire script of “Friends with Benefits” because that is my go-to rom com, and I can quote most of it, just saying.
But I’ll spare you (and keep the respect of Ryan).
So, I’ve chosen one television show and two movies (both of which were Oscar nominees for Best Picture). Talk about respectable flicks.
Let’s do this.
Netflix, R, 118-minute run time
Two years ago, I read “Room” by Emma Donoghue. It was after the film-adaptation had come out and made waves during award season. It was up for best picture, but ultimately lost to the winning “Spotlight.”
Out of its four nominations, only Brie Larson won Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, and deservedly so. Jacob Tremblay, the at the time 8-year-old who plays Jack in the film, was also becoming America’s newest obsession and stealing hearts as he walked every red carpet during awards season. Naturally, I had to see what all the buzz was about.
I have a thing about reading books before watching the film adaptation, so I bought the book.
Since “Room” was added to Netflix this month, it has been on my list. I finally watched it. It was disturbing and beautiful all at the same time. For those unfamiliar with the story, it follows Ma (Larson) and Jack (Tremblay) as they create their own world in “Room,” the small shed they are trapped in. As Jack gets older, Ma does her best to gently ease him into the idea of a real world outside their four walls.
The moment she reveals that there's a world outside Room was perhaps one of the strongest acting scenes for both of them, in my opinion. Ma is frustrated. Jack is scared and confused. Ma is ready to live outside of "Room." Jack isn't sure he believes an outside world really exists. Their emotions are raw.
I won’t say more about the plot because I don’t want to spoil it, but as the story progresses, it becomes apparent that Tremblay and Larson should be in more movies together. Their onscreen chemistry as mother and son is palpable. Also, Tremblay narrates the whole movie, and not only does his little voice pull at your heartstrings, but his character’s wonder about the world gave me a whole new appreciation for the tiniest of things, even a sink. (Watch and you’ll understand).
It’s one of those movies that makes you feel every type of emotion. I suggest watching with a pack of tissues next to you. I warned you. Also, read the book.
FOX, Hulu, Netflix, TV-14, 7 seasons, 22-minute run time
“New Girl” follows Jess Day (Zooey Deschanel), an awkward, recently single woman as she moves in with three men she doesn’t know.
It’s not weird. It’s hilarious.
Maybe I find it particularly funny because as a 20-something, their problems are the problems my friends and I face as well. But, I think anyone will get a good chuckle out of it. Who wouldn’t laugh as men try to figure out why a broken-hearted woman would watch “Dirty Dancing” on repeat?
The men, Nick Miller (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.), have no idea how to talk to/co-exist with a 20-something woman who recently found out her boyfriend cheated on her (this isn’t a spoiler because you find this out in like the first three minutes of the first episode). They seem kind of dumb yet lovable.
Throw Jess’ model best friend Cece into the mix and the boys have no idea what to do in this situation. Hilarity ensues.
Sidenote: Coach later leaves to go do his own thing (but comes back for visits) and is replaced in the apartment by Winston Bishop (Lamorne Morris) who honestly deserves his own spin-off show. (Let me know if you want to talk, FOX).
Anyway, on the surface, “New Girl” is about the shenanigans the new roommates get themselves into. All of them have vastly different personalities. Nick seems kind of lazy and crabby but is neither once you get to know him. Schmidt loves himself more than anything in the world. Winston is the weirdo who everyone should be a bit more like. Jess ... Jess is one of a kind. Just watch to see.
But at its core, it’s a show about how friends become family. Nothing will warm your heart like the men singing to Jess after she is stood up on a date.
It’s never boring and always a good pick-me-up when you had a hard day.
Also, please pay extra attention to the final scene in the season one finale when Nick opens the door. I’ve linked it above for your convenience. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you watch. Talk about swoon-worthy. Confession: my roommates and I had a habit of replaying that scene and showing it to all of our friends, and now I am going to inflict that on all of you! You’re welcome.
Amazon, PG-13, 111-minute run time
For fellow romance-movie enthusiasts, this one’s for you.
I also read this book about two years ago but waited until last week to watch the movie. Don’t ask me why I am the way I am. We’re here now and that’s all that matters.
“Brooklyn,” which was also up for the Best Motion Picture alongside “Room,” follows Eilis (Saoirse Ronan, who was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role but lost to Larson) as she leaves Ireland to make a life in Brooklyn. She’s homesick. She’s tired. Her job isn’t stimulating. And some of the girls in her boarding house aren’t her cup of tea.
But then, she meets Tony. A local Italian boy who hung out at an Irish dance because he likes Irish girls. He didn’t mean it to sound as scandalous as it came off. We forgive him because he is actually a good person. More men should be like him.
They fall in love, obviously, and Eilis becomes more comfortable in her new home. She’s happier, more outgoing and more independent without ever losing who she really is.
Things are great until a tragedy forces Eilis to travel back home, where she becomes conflicted on where her real home is. Alongside her, we learn that home isn’t always a place. Sometimes it’s a person or multiple persons.
It’s a beautiful film filled with beautiful people and occasional Ireland beauty. Sorry New York, Ireland is prettier.
Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking, like a good movie should be. Also, read the book.
Well, that’s all I have for now. Bye, readers (if you’re still reading this)! Maybe we can ship Ryan off to Europe some other time and be reunited.
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.