Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter's Bone

Debra Granik, 2010 (9.4*)
Grand Jury Award, Sundance
Excellent southern gothic story, being called 'film noir', about a teenage girl hunting for her dad, who has disappeared before a court appearance after putting up their Ozark mountain shack and land for a bail bond. Since he's a meth cooker, many feel that he's either fled to avoid prison, or has been fed to some pigs. The film hinges on the terrific breakthrough performance by Jennifer Lawrence, nominated for many acting awards this year.

Jennifer gives a touching performance as a girl, Rolly Dee, who has to take care of two younger siblings who don't get enough to eat. She teaches them how to survive without her, typical backwoods skills like hunting and cleaning squirrels for dinner. To complicate matters, her mother is now catatonic and is still at home. This is a rough life that is all too typical all over the south; in fact, this is so close to my Georgia mountain homeland that it's almost unbearable.

Terrific indie actor John Hawkes is perfect as her uncle, who provides the only real adult support that she gets. Even more memorable is actress Dale Dickey [photo rt] as a scary distant relative who warns her not to come around their place anymore, as many who visit the meth dealers domain don't leave.

Already a winner of 10 awards, with 27 nominations, including the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Winter's was directed and co-written by Debra Granik [photo lt], who has a wonderful touch with keeping the story and the actors understated, which adds to the realism and therefore the story's impact. In upcoming ceremonies, Winter's Bone is also nominated for 7 Indie Spirit awards, including best feature, director, actress, screenplay, supporting actor and actress - and 7 Satellite awards. It should receive some Oscar® nominations, if justice is served: picture, director, screenplay, actress for Lawrence, and supporting actress for Dickey. The film has a rating of 90/100 at Metacritic, which compiles critics ratings - this would place it in the all-time top 100. Lawrence is being compared to Streep, and Granik to Kathryn Bigelow.

Update: Winter's Bone received Oscar® nominations for best picture, actress (Lawrence), adapted screenplay, and supporting actor (Hawkes)

Young Jennifer Lawrence in a breakthrough performance


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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