Watch This Year’s Oscar-Winning Short The Neighbor’s Window, a Surprising Tale of Urban Voyeurism

As the last cou­ple of gen­er­a­tions to come of age have redis­cov­ered, urban liv­ing has its ben­e­fits. One of those ben­e­fits is the abil­i­ty to keep an eye on your neigh­bors — quite lit­er­al­ly, giv­en a sit­u­a­tion of build­ings in close prox­im­i­ty, suf­fi­cient­ly large win­dows, and min­i­mal usage of drapes. Fortysome­thing Brook­lyn cou­ple Alli and Jacob find them­selves turned into voyeurs by just such a sit­u­a­tion in Mar­shall Cur­ry’s The Neigh­bor’s Win­dow, the Best Live Action Short Film at this year’s Acad­e­my Awards. “Do they have jobs, or clothes?” asks Alli, over­come by the frus­tra­tion of look­ing after her and Jacob’s three young chil­dren. “All they do is host dance par­ties and sleep ’till noon and screw.”

You may rec­og­nize Maria Dizzia and Greg Keller, who play Alli and Jacob, from their appear­ances in Noah Baum­bach’s While We’re Young. That film, too, dealt with the envy New York Gen-Xers feel for seem­ing­ly more free­wheel­ing New York Mil­len­ni­als, but The Neigh­bor’s Win­dow takes it in a dif­fer­ent direc­tion.

Cur­ry based it on “The Liv­ing Room,” an episode of the sto­ry­telling inter­view pod­cast Love and Radio in which writer and film­mak­er Diana Weipert tells of all she saw when she enjoyed a sim­i­lar­ly clear view into the life of her own younger neigh­bors. “Am I sup­posed to have maybe respect­ed their pri­va­cy and just looked away?” Weipert asks, rhetor­i­cal­ly. “But it’s impos­si­ble because that’s the way the chairs face. They face the win­dow! I could­n’t have not seen them if I want­ed to.”

Then again, she adds, “I guess I could’ve not got­ten the binoc­u­lars.” That irre­sistible detail makes it into The Neigh­bor’s Win­dow as a sym­bol of Alli and Jacob’s sur­ren­der to their fas­ci­na­tion with the cou­ple across the street. “They’re like a car crash that you can’t look away from,” as Alli puts it. “Okay, a beau­ti­ful, sexy, young car crash.” Yet both she and her hus­band, like any human beings with a par­tial view of oth­er human beings, can’t help but com­pare their cir­cum­stances unfa­vor­ably with those seen from afar. Even­tu­al­ly, as in “The Liv­ing Room,” the twen­tysome­things expe­ri­ence a rever­sal of for­tune, chang­ing Alli and Jacob’s view of them. They also regain the view of them­selves they’d lost amid all their voyeurism — enough of it to make them for­get that the observers can also be observed.

The Neigh­bor’s Win­dow will be added to our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch 66 Oscar-Nom­i­nat­ed-and-Award-Win­ning Ani­mat­ed Shorts Online, Cour­tesy of the Nation­al Film Board of Cana­da

Father and Daugh­ter: An Oscar-Win­ning Ani­mat­ed Short Film

The Last Farm: An Oscar Nom­i­nat­ed Short Film

Watch A Sin­gle Life: An Oscar-Nom­i­nat­ed Short About How Vinyl Records Can Take Us Mag­i­cal­ly Through Time

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.