Of all ten Best Picture nominees, none made less money at the box office than Winter’s Bone, which took in only $6.3 million. The next lowest was The Kids Are All Right at $20.6 million. The highest was Toy Story 3, grossing an unbelievable $415 million. Despite this ridiculous disparity in ticket sales, Winter’s Bone is easily good enough to take home the golden statue.
A harrowing thriller from Debra Granik, this minimal film (there’s almost no soundtrack) takes place in the rural Ozarks, where the primary vocation is the cooking and selling of crystal meth. The main character, Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence), must find her father—a renowned meth cooker—and make him appear in court, or else she, her depressed and disjointed mother, and young brother and sister must vacate their property, which the father put up to make bond.
What ensues is a dark, frightening journey through wintering countryside, dilapidated homes. Each person Ree encounters is more dangerous than the last, all of them more concerned with protecting themselves than helping her.
Lawrence’s performance as a fearless young woman (her character is only seventeen) in a struggle to protect her family is incredible. Coupled with the sheer honesty of the film’s presentation, her performance makes her well-deserving of her Best Actress nomination.
The film manages to end on a hopeful note, despite almost constant bleakness.
Also starring John Hawkes (Deadwood, Eastbound & Down) and Garrett Dillahunt (Deadwood, No Country for Old Men), Winter’s Bone‘s cast and script match the critical credentials it deservedly earned.