Feb 23, 2011

[Spoiler Alert] Best Picture Nominees #7: Winter's Bone

People working their fingers to the bone
Even with ten nominees, there is still contention about which films are going to make it into the top spots. This year, Winter's Bone and 127 Hours seem to be the films that squeaked in a nomination in place of movies like The Town and The Ghost Writer (which probably owes its lack of a nomination to Polanski problems). This is actually great for the world, because now more people will see Winter's Bone, a stirring film with amazingly
intense and quiet performances from John Hawkes, Jennifer Lawrence, and Dale Dickey (all pictured above). Lawrence and Hawkes are rightfully nominated for their performances. Lawrence gives a great performance as a girl searching for her drug-dealing/making father to save her home and her family, and Hawkes (as Teardrop, the protagonist's uncle) might grab the win from favorite Christian Bale and runner-up favorite Geoffrey Rush.  If more people actually see the film he would be a stronger contender than he is right now.  He's dangerous and caring, cold and familiar. shifting through a world of drugs and family he can't control but certainly understands. In a recent interview with New York Magazine, Hawkes says of his character that he's "just trying to protect his family and uses different tactics throughout. I don’t think he has some kind of revelation in the movie and becomes a better person at all. That interests me. I like that the perception of the audience changes."

There aren't many false notes in this movie.  It's a sad, almost silent yet violent thriller which pulls on themes of family responsibility, self-preservation, and love in an original and meaningful way.  And the Ozarks are a perfect setting as well: bleak and full of untold dangers. Based on a novel that is probably great (if one's into reading), the film does seem to rush its ending a little, and some moments can almost play for laughs. It's hard to fault the filmmakers for much though, when they get so much right.

The movie likely won't win Best Picture. Not enough people have seen it and it hasn't really made much of a splash in any other awards ceremony - it's a wonder that it was even nominated.  Still, it's certainly a great, great film.

Good Film: Yes
Best Picture: No, but it's certainly deserving
Score: 9/10
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