[Editor’s Note: This post is presented in partnership with Movies On Demand. Catch up on this year’s Awards Season contenders and past winners On Demand. Today’s selection is “Short Term 12” This article originally ran during the 2013 awards season.]
This awards season Brie Larson did the unthinkable – she beat Cate Blanchett. Blanchett, considered by nearly every pundit as the frontrunner for every Best Actress award under the sun for her performance in “Blue Jasmine,” lost to “Short Term 12″‘s Larson at this year’s Gothams Award. If there was anyone more shocked than everyone in attendance, it was Larson herself who appeared most surprised. “I was not expecting this,” she said in breathlessly accepting the award.
The win cemented a fact that anyone familiar with the actress has known full well for months know: that this has been a banner year for the actress.
Prior to “Short Term 12,” Larson mined an impressive career as a stellar supporting player with memorable performances in “Rampart,” “21 Jump Street” and Diablo Cody’s HBO show “The United States of Tara” as Toni Collette’s rebellious daughter. This year she proved her versatility with two more great supporting performances in Sundance faves “Don Jon” and “The Spectacular Now.” But it was Destin Daniel Cretton’s indie drama “Short Term 12” that proved she had the chops to join the big leagues.
In the second feature from the “I Am Not a Hipster” director, Larson gives her first lead turn as Grace, a 20-something supervisor at a foster-care facility, pregnant with the child of her co-worker boyfriend (John Gallagher Jr.), and weighed down by one dark secret she’s harboring.
As Grace, Larson gives a raw, tremendously involving performance, one that’s been drawing accolades since first unveiled at SXSW, where the film won both the jury and audience awards.
“Grace is a very complicated character and it was frightening finding the right person to play her,” “Short Term 12” writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton told Indiewire. “For me it was difficult to imagine the perfect person because she’s walking that line of being too grim to sit an hour and a half with.”
Cretton was drawn to Larson’s “caring and nurturing” qualities in casting her.
“To me the heart of Grace is this person who has a lot of her own shit to deal with but she’s such a empathetic human being that she can’t help but care for the people around her. Brie understood that right off the bat because that’s who she is. She’s an incredibly caring human being.
“Part of the amazing thing about Brie is that she’s an incredible actor, but she’s also an incredible person. She was playing the role of Grace onscreen and she was playing the role of a mentor to these young actors off-screen. Fulfilling those two roles really helped inform her performance in the movie.”