When the 2011 Oscar nominations were announced this morning, the fact that 'Winter's Bone' was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Actor (John Hawkes) and Best Adapted Screenplay piqued some curiosity among moviegoers, if only because Debra Granik's indie about a teenager searching for her father in the drug-infested culture of the Ozarks isn't as well-known as many of the other nominees.
Yet 'Winter's Bone' received a huge amount of critical acclaim when it was released last June. It received a 94-percent-fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating, and we here at Moviefone ranked it fourth on our 50 Best Movies of 2010 list, describing the film as follows:
The story of Ree, a teenager trying to track down her wayward father among a network of similarly wayward (and criminal) relatives, seems like the kind of indie that gets acclaim at festivals and is quickly forgotten. But 'Winter's Bone' is a far better, far weightier film than that. Filmed on location in the Ozarks, the film evokes not just a place and a way of life but a fierce sense of loyalty, desperation and pride. John Hawkes as Ree's uncle is explosive with menace and pain -- and Jennifer Lawrence as the headstrong Ree, who comes of age in ways most people will never (thank God) have to undergo, is a revelation, giving us what is certainly one of the best performances and strongest female characters of the year.
Based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell, the film gave a breakout opportunity to 20-year-old Jennifer Lawrence, lauded by critics for her poised, courageous performance as a teen who could easily succumb to the culture of poverty and drugs that surrounds her, yet struggles to rise above it.
Our own 'Winter's Bone' review stated, "[Ree is] the very definition of defiance and perseverance, and Lawrence captures that perfectly in a performance that is full of rage, sensitivity, love and hatred." The young actress, whose profile will no doubt rise as a result of her Oscar nomination, will appear in a much more commercial role this summer: Mystique in 'X-Men: First Class' (see what she'll look like in this 'X-Men' cast photo).
John Hawkes, by contrast, is an industry veteran, but he's a "that guy" -- one of those character actors whose face you can never quite place. He played Mike "Bugsy" Moran in 'The Perfect Storm' and also the mysterious Lennon (hippie dude with glasses) in the final season of 'Lost.'
'Winter's Bone' received only one nomination at this year's Golden Globes, for Jennifer Lawrence; but no doubt after these Oscar nods, many more people will see this lovely, well-made film -- which could even end up surprising a few awards-watchers come Oscar time.
'Winter's Bone' Trailer