Clenching the Nomination - Brooklyn - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Clenching the Nomination – Brooklyn

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Ryan discusses the scene in John Crowley's Brooklyn that he thinks secured the film's Best Picture nomination. You can check out all of our overall guesses on the major Oscar categories for 2016 here.

Clenching BrooklynBrooklyn took me by complete surprise when I saw it late last year.  It looked “nice” but nothing more.  I didn’t see any huge conflict, no big idea and nothing that made it seem like a movie you had to see in the theater.  Then I saw that Nick Hornby, a writer who I have really enjoyed, wrote the screenplay and heard rave reviews from people I trusted and decided to make it a date night movie. I was so glad that I did because the movie was a nice warm hug of a movie and I realized that it didn’t have to be a big idea or have a huge conflict to be worthwhile.  The movie that tells its stories well and transports you to the world is a great movie no matter how big or small.

The main story of Brooklyn was Eilis’ (Saoirse Ronan) transition from living in Ireland to being an immigrant in America in the 1950s.  She deals with feelings of homesickness, being a stranger in a strange land and finding love.  The performance by Ronan in the film was remarkable and made you fall in love with her and root for her to make it and most importantly be happy.  Watching her struggle and fight and start to make a life left me with a smile on my face.  Brooklyn hit all of my pleasure buttons but the subplot that I appreciated the most was the love story she had with the Italian-American that she meets at a dance.  Maybe the Italian guy falling for the Irish girl hits pretty close to home for me and I REALLY wanted nothing to happen between them.  So when she went back to Ireland, met another guy and wasn’t writing him back (even though they were secretly married) made me nervous.

This brings me to what I think was the scene that sealed the nomination for Best Picture and it comes at the end.  After seriously considering staying in the home country and getting everything she originally wanted there, she comes in contact with her old boss who belittles what she has in America and that includes her husband.  This wakes something fierce in here and she tells her old boss what she thinks of her and everyone that wants to hold her back.  She then tells her mom (who doesn’t want to be alone after the death of her other daughter) about the husband, her life and that she is going back to her home tomorrow.  After tying up loose ends with some of the other people in town, she boards the boat back to America.  In a mirrored scene from the beginning of the film, she tells a new immigrant on the way to America what to do and how to survive both the boat and the new world she is about to be thrown into.  We then see her head back to her neighborhood and an ANOTHER mirrored scene we see her waiting for her husband like he used to do for her while she was in school.  She is across the street from his job and he leaves the store looks up and sees her.  The two see each other and the fade to black.  With the ending, we know that they will live happily ever after and she will be happy.  We don’t need to see it played out in a montage or have it literally written on the screen in black and white.  We know that Eilis will be happy and the audience leaves perfectly sated.

Brooklyn is small and I don’t mean that in a bad way.  It was a very small story about a person (like many others) who moved to a new country to start a new life.  She did not change the world, she is not based on a real person, nothing horrible happens to her or anyone else in the movie and it didn’t have any deeper meanings or hit into any zeitgeist of the moment.  It was a movie written, acted and directed really well and it leaves the audience with a warm feeling in their stomach, like a good home cooked meal.   For Brooklyn to leave you happy and sated, it needs to end well and it ends in a way that it was building to from the beginning.  Like I said earlier, Brooklyn was a warm hug to the audience and if it didn’t end perfectly, if it didn’t stick the landing the hug wouldn’t have worked.  That is why the payoff to her journey, the realization of what her love meant, and the happy ending was beautifully done.  In the end, I was choked up in a good way and when a love story can do that for me, it is firing on all cylinders.

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Posted by Andrew

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