Design

The Neighbors’ Window

Have you seen The Neighbors’ Window by director Marshall Curry? The short film features an exhausted married couple with three kids, who watch their twenty-something neighbors through their window. It won an Oscar for Best Live Action Short. (If the story sounds familiar, it might be because you heard the true story told by Diane Weipert on the Love + Radio podcast.)

In our old apartment, we could see a neighboring family clearly through our living room window. We ended up becoming friends in real life, and we’d text each other saying “I see your husband got a haircut!” or “Are those your in-laws visiting?” It was a strange but fun part of living in the city.

The Neighbors' Window

What good shows or movies have you watched recently?

P.S. Another amazing Oscar-winning short, and what are your top three movies of all time?

(Via Kottke.)

  1. CS says...

    By coincidence, I watched Rear Window by Hitchcock last night. Then, I saw this right now and thought… ah! This film clearly got the inspiration for the idea from that old classic and put a totally new spin on it. I’ll have to check it out!

  2. Lauren says...

    My husband and I lived in this apartment in Chicago where we could see across the street through the window into the living room of another apartment where that couple that we kept tabs on because they were living a life pretty parallel to ours. We could see their cats sunning on the windowsill, noticed when they changed the curtains or hung new art on the wall, saw their baby grow up and then watched her belly grow big and another baby come along and that one grow up too. We’d joke about how she wore this fedora like every day one summer, and about how we never saw their kids jumping on the sofa like ours did. This went on for seven years and then we saw boxes being packed and they were gone. We moved out a few months later to a nearby suburb.

    About a year later my husband and I were at the 40th birthday party of a friend we had made in our new town. We started chatting with another couple at the party about all the usual topics, which in our suburb always includes what cool neighborhood in the city you used to live in. I mentioned how I had driven past our old building in a certain neighborhood recently and the couple said how they had lived near there too, what street did we live on? We said it, they said us too, what block? Then us too, what number?? Then “YOU’RE the people with the two fluffy cats and the two blond boys and you had the walls painted blue and always sat in that chair by the window!” They saw me in early labor with my younger son, and coming back into the window a few days later with a newborn, and noticed when our cats were both not around anymore.

    It’d be a better story if I could say that we’re all best friends now or something, but we do see them around town every once in a while and it’s always fun to catch up.

    • cilla says...

      what a cool story!

  3. Dianne says...

    What about American Factory it also won an Oscar, lots of our friends here in Australia have watched it. Good reminder as to what is happening in our world.

  4. kj says...

    okay, I know this is an amazing story and a fascinating comment about urban life and modern society. Yet, I have very complicated feelings around this. The original podcast story was about a friend of a friend of mine. She had no idea the podcast was being made about her and her husband’s death. She had to not only revisit the grief of losing her husband all over again–when friends sent her the podcast asking if it was about her– but also wrap her head around the thought of her last intimate moments with her husband how died far too young being invaded without her knowledge. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but if I put myself in her shoes I feel like it was kind of irresponsible of the podcaster to tell that story. Or maybe, just unthoughtful. I have no idea if the family was contacted about the making of this movie. I sure hope so.

    • Penelope says...

      Gosh KJ that is such a good point. I love this short film and find it incredibly touching but I wasn’t thinking about what it must be like for the real people to have such private moment broadcasted like that. Thank you sharing

    • Amy says...

      That’s heartbreaking.

      I’ve also found this podcast to be intrusive and a bit unsettling.

  5. Maria says...

    I heard this podcast years ago and loved it, but didn’t know a short film had been made of it. And then as I was watching I realized the actress playing the watcher was Maria Dizzia!

    I saw her in a play called “Eurydice” (by Sarah Ruhl) maybe twelve or thirteen years ago, and it was probably the most profound experience I’ve ever had in the theatre. It was so beautiful – elegaic and spare. I saw it at just the right time for me, and it moved me deeply. I’ve always thought of Maria Dizzia as a sort of friend because of how much I connected to her performance. So glad to have seen her again. Thanks for sharing, CoJ!

  6. Sandy says...

    I did hear this true story on radio some while ago. Radio (podcast) creates such an intimate feeling between storyteller and listener, especially on a long drive during the night. My heart broke a little more.

  7. Claire says...

    Oh this made me cry in a way that I haven’t in a long time. Good reminder that we all have things going on in our lives that are heavy, and to appreciate what you’ve got, because it’s most certainly sweet, along with all the heaviness.

    C

  8. Christine says...

    Thank you! I think I just fell in love with The Nationals. That song…that voice…how perfect.

  9. Andrea says...

    I loved the film short! Thank you for posting.

  10. Rose says...

    I just finished putting our kids to bed and I opened up Cup of Jo, as I enjoy doing in the evenings a couple times a week. I couldn’t believe that there was a link to The Neighbors’ Window short because I literally was thinking about this story an hour ago when I brought the trash out and waved to my neighbor (I had heard the podcast). We live in a townhouse in Luxembourg and across the street lives an older couple. My husband and I have three small kids and we often have dance parties in our living room. I looked across the street once and saw the older man watching us – not in a creepy way but in a way that made me feel like he enjoyed watching us have a good time. Unlike the story in this short, we have become friendly with our neighbors, but when I took out the trash this evening he waved at me and it reminded me of this story. I look forward to watching the short!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a sweet story! thank you!

  11. Elizabeth says...

    Thank you so much for this post. I have been so busy the past few years as a full-time worker and student that I haven’t watched many movies, and now that I have time there are few I’m anxious to see (but I loved “Little Women”). I cannot wait to watch this short.

    But I am definitely a voyeur when it comes to looking into houses. I don’t want to see the occupants, just their stuff. It drives my husband crazy when I ask him to slow down, and it drives me crazy that he refuses.

    However, the memorable exception to focusing on interiors rather than people was on a trip to Paris, where we had a terrific view of an apartment’s interior across the street. At first we were both enthralled by the apartment and then a middle-age couple entered, sat down, had a glass of wine — like a play! We went to the restaurant in the apartment’s building and who should show up but the Parisian couple! “We just saw you!” I wanted to shout but that would have been too creepy and annoyingly American. But oh, what a moment!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha i love that memory, elizabeth!

  12. valeria says...

    When I was a kid, I used to spend hours sitting at the window looking at people on the street. It was an highly populated street with apartment buildings and stores, perfect to satisfy my child longing for stories. I came to recognize all the people who lived there and in particular I remember growing fond for a teenage couple and the girlfriend’s sister, who – I understood after watching them come and go dozens of times, often all of them three together – had a crush for the boy. I remember totally rooting for this girl who look so sweeter than her sister and desperately fantasizing about tell him the truth I was the only one to know. I don’t exactly know how their story progressed (or better, since I still have friends in that neighborhood, I know the couple married and, after having kids, splitted up quite badly, but I don’t know if the sister had ever declared her feelings or how long she had been in love with him) but I think I developed then my skill to intercept love body language. Sometimes I know one is in love with someone else before even they know (very nice when it happens), but in a few not very nice occasion I realized someone was cheating, without evidence… and it was true!

  13. Ana says...

    the movie WAVES has hit me hard, both of us (my boyfriend too). I haven’t seen in a long time such a good narrative and perspectives about the story. I higly recommend it.
    Also we LOOOOOOVE charming, brilliant, genuine Ricky Gervais in his AFTER LIFE series.

  14. Katie says...

    I’ve been binging through Schitt’s Creek and have gotten FAR more invested than I thought I would be.

    • Mims says...

      OMG! Me too! I cannot decide which character I love best. Moira’s clothes are to die for, but I would most likely be happier wearing David’s. I never want this show to end! I was hooked from the pilot when Moira was packing her wigs….”Did you put Kristen with Robin? They don’t like each other!”

  15. Jean says...

    So good, definitely cried quite a bit more than I expected. Such a great reminder to be thankful for your life and that the grass is not always greener elsewhere.

    • Pondicherry says...

      Alexis’ growth is a thing of beauty.

  16. Lauren says...

    I like to think we have an auditory variation on this with our next-door neighbors. G moved into his apartment when my husband and I moved into ours, and for the first couple of years he had a bachelor’s life: through our shared wall, we could hear lots of boots-and-pants-and-boots-and-pants techno from his stereo system, and his friends’ late-night laughter. He started dating S, and his place was dead silent for a year. A few years after that, I got used to working with the noise of their baby daughter’s cries in the background; I’ve heard a lot of infants over the years, but A always made me laugh, as from this side of the wall it sounded like her parents were performing a gentle exorcism on a mortified goat. Now she’s a little girl and her brother, N, has taken over the infant lines; A still sounds a bit like an angry goat, but that’s big sisters for you (I feel that indignation, A).
    Our walls are pretty thick, and we don’t hear EVERYTHING – but we’ve caught what feels like some of the big things, and I’ve enjoyed the half-intimacy of that. G swears they don’t hear our turntable through the wall – I think this is gallantry on his part, related to the early years of late-night techno. When little A’s mother introduced me to her in the elevator one day, she blinked until I said hello. Once she heard my voice: “Oh,” she said, “you’re our neighbor!”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a sweet scene :)

  17. LCLCL says...

    What an incredible story and reminder about appreciating what you have, and whether the grass is greener on the other side. I would never have seen this video without this blog, so thank you!

    • Erin says...

      Does anyone know what she was wearing around her waist in the second scene? It’s probably totally obvious but I’m missing it!

    • Neela says...

      Erin it’s the baby carrier, after she took the baby out!

  18. Lily Whitton says...

    I know him! Kind of. My in-laws are long-time friends of Marshall Curry’s family :) He is a lovely person and very talented.

  19. Leanne says...

    The Marriage Story will stay with me forever. I also loved the series, Modern Love.

    • ANA says...

      I forgot to mention this in my comment – exactly the same thought: The Marriage Story and Modern Love – SUCH A REAL INTERPRETATION OF OUR INTIMATE LIVES…can not wait to see more Modern Love series.

  20. I remember the first time I listened to the podcast episode of this story (from the CoJ post on best podcast episodes!). I had just lost my very serious boyfriend to a sudden disease. One month he was here, the next he was gone.

    I was sitting in traffic trying to hide my grief as I had been for the last several months, and this story completely wrecked me – ultimately, in a good way. It opened the door to some feelings I really needed to feel, and I truly believe it kickstarted the next phase of my grief.

    I do still feel a little sorry for the other folks sitting in traffic with me who looked very concerned as I openly (and very, very loudly) sobbed in my car.

    Can’t wait to watch this and cry again.

    • L says...

      Oh Kristy, I’m so sorry for the loss of your boyfriend. The grief sounds tremendous. Glad stories like this can kick open the door of feeling all the feels, though. Don’t hold back from that <3

  21. Kim says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this film. What a beautiful lesson–as hard as our lives can be sometimes, there is someone who would give anything to live them. xoxo

    • meg says...

      Ditto!

      I don’t live this close to my neighbors, but love seeing interior spaces on my nightly dog walk:)

  22. Jenn says...

    For Sama (Academy award nom for best documentary) was one of the most powerful, moving, inspiring, and heartbreaking films I have seen, ever. Highly recommend!

  23. Ann says...

    This is beautiful. I cried into my coffee on a snowy no school day.

    • Mandy says...

      Same 😭

    • Lisa says...

      Me too.

  24. Eliot says...

    Loved this short film! I went a couple of weekends ago to watch the live action shorts that were nominated for Oscars this year. This one is lovely but do you self a favor and find a way to watch the rest. I was actually shocked that The Neighbor’s Window won because the others were even more stunning.

  25. E. says...

    Having an anxiety condition leaves me certain that disaster is just around the corner at any moment. Anxiety is actually an innate survival instinct. I tell people I’d have been a highly successful cave woman. And while it’s certainly kept me from doing some things in my life, I think it also keeps me constantly grateful for the most important stuff in my life. My husband gets frustrated with my “Are you in a ditch by the side of the road? Which ditch?” texts, but he also knows that his ex-wife didn’t care about the answer to that question and I do. So much. I thought this short was a perfect response to the Insta-envy, Facebook official, influencer culture in which we live. It’s awfully easy to look through the windows and see something in other people’s lives that may seem better than yours. I appreciate this reminder that there are people looking through my windows, too. Gratitude. Gratitude. Gratitude.

  26. Alyssa says...

    This makes my urban living heart happy. I can see clearly into my neighbor’s kitchen from my kitchen window. So while doing dishes, I could see when he was home or cooking. And occasionally, when he was walking around naked! I refer to him affectionately as the naked neighbor. He and I ended up becoming friends and I always felt a sense of comfort when I’d see him cooking, just knowing he was next door. I was sad when naked neighbor moved out. Now there’s a couple with a dog who lives there. They are far less entertaining and never naked in the kitchen.

  27. Meghan says...

    I listened to that podcast episode years ago and it stuck with me so I was so excited (and surprised) to watcj this short. I also strongly recommend the other Oscar Shorts and Short Docs this year. Most are available to stream for free online. My favourites were HAIR LOVE, LEARNING TO SKATEBOARD IN A WARZONE (IF YOU’RE A GIRL), and the very enjoyable NEFTA FOOTBALL CLUB!

    • ash says...

      NAFTA football club was so amazing!

  28. S says...

    Thank you for sharing – beautiful.

  29. Maryn says...

    Wow. Just so beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  30. Kay says...

    My husband and I sat and watched Yesterday on Friday night, it came out last year so we were late to the party but it was one of the nicest films I have seen in ages. Just a feel good, fun film about the music by the Beatles and a guy who wanted to be a singer. It was a lovely night on the sofa with a box of Maltesers between us.

    • Elliesee says...

      I also watched Yesterday recently and it made my boyfriend stay and watch it with me!

  31. Cara says...

    That was so beautiful. Such a refreshing take to see how beautiful our lives all look to each other.

  32. A says...

    What a beautiful film and story. Puts everything into perspective doesn’t it…

    On a lighter note – we used to live in a shitty tenement style apartment in Brooklyn next to a beautiful, modern single family home. We could see the back garden from our kitchen window and often the gorgeous woman who lived there would walk across the garden naked. I’d yell to my husband – hot naked neighbor is out again! Well, we had our first baby, and turns out hot naked neighbor is married to our pediatrician! We lived next door to him through the first year of our daughter’s life until we moved to a bigger apartment a few neighborhoods away. Oh New York…

    • Daniela says...

      I have to know, how’d you figure out it was your pediatrician’s wife? Photo of her in his office or did he too start walking in the garden naked? :)

  33. Jessica says...

    I recently watched “State of the Union” on the AMC website. It’s 10 episodes of 10 minutes each in which Rosamund Pike and Chris O’Dowd play a married couple who meet at a pub before marriage counseling each week. It was excellent. I was surprised at how much humor and heart they were able to pack into 10 minutes.

    • Megan says...

      That show was SO GOOD. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. “Just a touch of infidelity.”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      this sounds really good!

  34. Elle says...

    One year on Valentine’s Day, my boyfriend and I saw a man come to a woman’s door next store. We turned out the lights to watch. The man stayed in the living room while the woman went into the bedroom to get ready. We watched her get all dressed up and put on make up and perfume while he paced back and forth nervously in the living room. Then she came out and they gazed into each others eyes and left to go out. We munched on some chips and salsa while we watched. It was like watching a movie.

    Now I live next store to a dorm with my husband. At one point it housed young adults with special needs in a college program. We were directly across from two girls. They hung a sign saying “We love your place.” We started writing notes back and forth and waving to each other. It was so cute!

    • Sarah says...

      ohh so cute!!

    • valeria says...

      That’s so beautiful!

  35. Catherine says...

    We just finished both seasons of Succession on HBO and I’m obsessed. I watched the first season while my husband was away for work, then made him watch it with me when he got back. It’s so hilarious and intense.

    This short was beautiful. We recently moved from a house with no immediate neighbors to one in the middle of a block, and I like being able to see everyone out my windows, but I close the blinds at night.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, succession is so addictive! we tore through it over the last month or so. i couldn’t wait to watch it!

  36. Abbiemirand says...

    Came here to say thank you for posting such a beautiful film, and now I have even more incredible shorts to check out! I swear, my life would be so much less cultured without Cup of Jo!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Aww thank you!

  37. Rose Eileen Cearley says...

    Oh my, the most poignant and beautiful film. Thank you for sharing

  38. Teresa Petch says...

    Yes, we were those neighbours! I miss living near you guys, but it’s great that I can still follow all of your adventures (and snag your awesome style tips)! Love from Canada – teresa

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      HI TERESA!!!!!! how is john’s hair these days? ;) we miss you guys!!! Xoxoxo

    • Emilie says...

      This is so sweet! Reunion in the comments section :) Thanks for posting this short, I cried in my office and had to pretend that my contact fell out when my office neighbour came by.

      Teresa, where in Canada are you now? I know I’m not the first to suggest that we need Canadian COJ meet ups! I’m in Calgary — please please if any fellow Calgarians see this, let’s get together! <3

  39. Michelle says...

    I’ve been watching Italy/HBO’s My Brilliant Friend adaptation! Can’t wait for the second season next month :)

    • Mina says...

      This was the best news Michelle! I am delighted! I thought they gave up on the second season.

    • LK says...

      It was one of the BEST SHOWS i watched last year, and also such a fabulous book. I wish more people were into the show!

    • Jo says...

      There is a series?!?! How do I not know about this?!?!? I have to investigate how to watch that in Europe (Netflix? Sky?), the books are fabulous!

  40. ash says...

    OMG I went to see the Oscar Nominated Shorts over the weekend on a date (my suggestion). It was a toss up between the Live Action and the Animated. Mistake! They were all so incredibly good but also SO INCREDIBLY HEAVY. Despite its sad story arc this short was such a bright spot in the incredibly-heavy-omg-i-can’t-watch-another-one set.

    Plus, it’s just such a true to NYC story. Slight aside, I live in Brooklyn and happen to know that my male / hot neighbor likes to cook in his skivvies, and I am not ashamed of it. I’m fairly certain my neighbors know I like to dance in my kitchen while I cook. I like to think of them as my audience.

  41. SG says...

    LOL HA Patricia, thank you for the laugh, I really needed that tonight!

  42. Jill says...

    Very well done. I wanted more.

  43. AN says...

    OMG, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is exquisite, run!!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thank you for the rec!

  44. Sue says...

    Years ago when I was in grad school, I lived in an house in Eugene, OR where the upstairs windows looked directly into the windows of the apartment next door (downstairs was a travel agency–those were the days). My roommate and I became obsessed with our neighbor, a bearded fellow who appeared to play his musical instrument (a flute? a recorder? I can’t quite remember) in the bathroom. We suspected he knew how much time we spent staring at him, but it was confirmed at Halloween, when he placed his pumpkin in one of the windows facing us, and instead of a face, it was carved simply with the word “Hi.” We were both thrilled and mortified. In the end, though, we never talked to him, which now seems a shame because we never did find out the deal with the recorder in the bathroom.

    • Kate says...

      Oh my. I have a similar Eugene, OR neighbor story. I was fully convinced that my neighbors across the parking lot were in the adult film industry. After a year or so of living there, I saw them unload a trailer full of sex toys in their living room!

    • Julie says...

      Omg! I love this story. Maybe it was the acoustics in his bathroom?

  45. m. says...

    The documentary Maiden about an all female sailing crew was SO compelling. And I just saw the Icelandic film Woman at War which was a really fun watch.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Ooh can’t wait to check out.

  46. Debby says...

    Loved this short! And I was surprised when I ugly-sobbed at the end, unexpectedly. Didn’t see that coming and it was a good watch, in case anyone was on the fence about it.

  47. Rosie says...

    OMG tears! That was so moving.

  48. Just came back from watching The Gentlemen and it is EXCELLENT!!! I would go as far as to say it is the best film I have seen in many years. Witty, clever, funny.. Guy Ritchie has outdone himself!

    • Eloise says...

      I LOVED that movie, too!

  49. escondista says...

    I loved this podcast story! I didn’t read your whole post before watching and halfway through I was like I KNOW THIS STORY!
    Still made me tear up.
    Sitting here, feeling tired and dirty, nursing my 2 month old … I needed this story right now!

  50. Patricia says...

    In my old apartment, I could see right across the alleyway into my neighbor’s apartment. He used to pull his blinds down so that the only part of him that was visible was from his upper thigh (window sill level), to his mid-torso (bottom-of-the-blinds-level). He was always naked and it used to crack me up. I don’t know if I ever saw him on the street because the only part of him I would have recognized was his wang dang doodler. Ah, New York!

    • Megan says...

      LOL!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Hahahaha

    • Sarz says...

      Ha! We generally aren’t that squished together, here in Canada, though Toronto might say otherwise. I always wondered if the Naked Guy on Friends reflected a common NYC experience. It sounds as though yours was even funnier!

    • Katie says...

      “Wang dang doodler” LOLLLLOLOLOLLLLL

    • Talia says...

      “wang dang doodler” – laughing hysterically!

  51. Alexandra says...

    Hair Love, which won best Oscar for animated short this year, is one of my new favorites. I can’t stop recommending it to people. It hits close to home (I won’t say why or I’ll spoil the surprise) and brought me to tears the first time I watched it.

    • Amy says...

      My kids have watched this dozens of times. They request it for hair-brushing, which takes about the six minutes that the film lasts and is very on-topic haha! Plus distracts them from the discomfort of hair snarls.

    • Michelle says...

      I have played this on YouTube several times. It really is beautiful!

  52. Veronica says...

    When I lived in a downtown loft, there was a yoga studio across the way. I’d mimic the instructor’s moves while watching from my mat in the living room. Hey, free yoga! I always looked forward to my 7 pm class.

    • dawn says...

      i love this.

  53. jane says...

    I heard it on Love + Radio and loved it. Very happy to see it so well translated to film. I’m on hiatus in a general way from TV and film and on my second series of a ceramics class instead. I am a huge movie fiend and tend to see everything and I’ve decided I need to spend more time actually living life instead. So it’s a big change.

    Over the holidays I could not get into Star Wars so I ended up seeing Knives Out which was thoroughly enjoyable for what it was. I love those old fashioned who-done-it’s in the tradition of movies like Deathtrap and the great Agatha Christie’s Poirot on PBS. Something a little different but still with a bit of suspense is Elizabeth Moss’s, The One I Love. It’s old now but still so good.

  54. Jennifer says...

    I have a distinct memory of listening to that story for the first time while driving in the car with my husband. What a gut punch. It was all we could do to grasp each other hands while tears streamed down our faces.

  55. Lauren E. says...

    When I was in college, I lived in a dorm that was basically an apartment building in the Financial District and one night my roommate and I saw our cute neighbors across the courtyard. We held up signs back and forth, until finally we told them to come over–and then promptly realized how dumb that was and refused to buzz them in. Ah, youth.