Tuesday, February 22, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: Winter's Bone

Winter's Bone
Number of Nominations: 4
Categories: Best Picture, Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (John Hawkes), Best Adapted Screenplay
Availability in US: DVD, Blu-ray
Trailer: Click for Trailer
Winter's Bone tells the story of a 17-year-old named Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) trying to track down her drug-dealer father so her family won't lose the house he put up for his bail. With help from her sketchy, but ultimately well-meaning, uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes), Ree takes great personal risks to determine what happened to her father and keep her family together.

Winter's Bone is everything an Oscar movie should be. It is unpredictable and thought-provoking and contains excellent performances. Unfortunately it also has that other curse of some of the great Oscar films: no one has seen or heard of it. This is the kind of thing that makes people say the Oscars are "out of touch" but honestly, that particular criticism has always seemed odd to me. These are the films the artists have said are the best ones, so if they're not the popular films, maybe we all need to go out and watch better movies. Winter's Bone is a prime example: Here is a film I had never heard of until it started popping up on critics' lists at the end of the year, but when I rented it and watched it, I was riveted. The acting was excellent, the plot was engaging, and the cinematography was wonderful.

All my love for this film aside though, Winter's Bone's awards were the nominations themselves. A film that barely registered at the box office will get plenty of DVD rentals and purchases just from the nods alone, but the Oscar buzz just isn't behind it in any category. If it weren't up against Aaron Sorkin, I'd say you could perhaps expect an upset in the screenplay category, but I think Sorkin is upset-proof.
Grade: A

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