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June 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s called Winter’s Bone, and judging from the reviews, it does seem like the kind of low-budget, meticulously made movie that is tossed out to us in the early days of winter to vie for Oscar nominations. Indeed, several critics have already predicted that it will become an Oscar contender, certainly for best film, director, script and actress. “Winter’s Bone is the year’s best drama thus far,” writes Claudia Puig in USA Today. Amy Biancolli in the San Francisco Chronicle uses almost the identical words: “The best American film of the year so far.” It already won the top Grand Jury Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival. The critics single out 19-year-old Jennifer Lawrence for special praise for her performance as Ree Dolly, a 17-year-old not-quite-woman, taking care of her two younger siblings and her addled mother and now searching for her father, who has disappeared after being arrested on a drug charge and putting up their home as collateral on a bond. The film is about her odyssey. A.O. Scott in the New York Times refers to Lawrence’s “watchful, precise and quietly heroic performance.” Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal remarks that Lawrence “doesn’t seem to act so much as achieve a state of grace that combines intelligence with fierce resolve.” Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post calls Lawrence’s performane “astonishingly sympathetic and assured.” And Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune concludes, “This is a considerable talent well on her way to a great career. It’s for performances like this that moviegoers find themselves taking a chance on a title that doesn’t have a fast-food tie-in.” Several critics make the point that this is an often difficult film to watch. “It’s a movie to be endured as much as to be watched, but stellar acting makes the pain worthwhile,” writes Peter Howell in the Toronto Star. And Morgenstern concludes his Wall Street Journal review by remarking that the film, “far from being a downer, makes its way through harshness and hardship into hope.”

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