Oscarbait 2010: Winter's Bone

Two million dollars was all it took for Debra Granik to make the best film of the year, with superb performances from its young leads, and no sacrifice of atmosphere. Jennifer Lawrence stars in this tale of survival in the land of Ozark hillbillies, where the family trade is crystal meth and livestock are the only currency.

Like Precious and Fish Tank, the story revolves around the desperation of one young girl facing a life of extreme poverty and deprivation. But Ree is a different animal; she's tough and she's hopeful, even faced with the knowledge that she might lose her only home thanks to her father's jumping bail. And so she is forced on her own Odyssean quest, facing temptations and threats at every pitstop on the way to the truth.

Winter's Bone has moments of unspeakable violence, proving that sometimes the most dangerous people around you are your own blood. And no one lets Ree down more than her kin, from her bail-jumper dad to her mentally unstable mother. But they're not half as terrifying as Ree's motley crew of 'cousins,' who we meet one-by-one, each with their own brand of domestic abuse, silent recriminations, or open threats.

Without such a compelling heroine, the film might have become unrelentingly bleak, but thankfully we have Ree Dolly to root for. Jennifer Lawrence has already been snapped up by Hollywood, with a lead roles coming up in the new X-Men film. Hopefully, Winter's Bone is just at the beginning of its award run, with the Sundance prize already in the bag.

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3 Responses to “ Oscarbait 2010: Winter's Bone ”

  1. I didn't have this movie in my 2010 Top 10, mostly because of the "unrelenting bleakness" that you mentioned.  I found that the movie stuck with me more than most other Oscar-nominated movies - sometimes months later.  If I had to do it over again I would have this movie in my 2010 Top 10.  Check out Lawrence in The Burning Plain.  It's the first thing I ever saw her in and I made a mental note to check out future movies from her.

  2. Thanks for the recommendation! I'll make sure and check it out.

    I agree, this is one of the few I would continue to recommend.

  3. Just a clarification - it's Lawrence's performance that I am recommending you see, not necessarily the movie itself.  (I realize you can't do one without the other, but I am somewhat ambivalent on the movie as a whole.)


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