Winter’s Bone is the year’s best live action movie so far. A 17-year-old Ozarks girl is determined to save the family home by tracking down her meth dealer dad – dead or alive. The girl’s journey through a series of nasty and nastier Southern Missouri crank cookers is riveting – without any explosions, gunfights or chase scenes. Every moment of this film seems completely real. Winter’s Bone won the screenwriting and grand jury prizes at Sundance.
With just her second feature, Debra Granik has emerged as an important filmmaker to watch. She presents an unflinching look at this subculture without ever resorting to stereotype. Granik hits a home run with every artistic choice, from the locations to the spare soundtrack to the pacing to the casting. I’ll be watching for her next film.
As the protagonist, 20-year-old Jennifer Lawrence is in every scene. With a minimum of dialogue, she creates a lead character of rarely seen determination.
Dale Dickey is exceptional as a criminal matriarch. John Hawkes (the kind Sol Star in Deadwood) also gives a tremendous performance as the ready-to-explode Uncle Teardrop.