I actually saw Winter’s Bone in a theater in Kansas City, MO.  I was on a weeklong baseball road trip with Ian affectionately dubbed “Baseball in the Ozarks” so when we were deciding between seeing it or Inception, the former just seemed a little more appropriate.  Obviously we weren’t watching baseball in forests infested with meth dealers.  But we did see enough of the area to get a better appreciation of the movie’s locale.  Plus, there was this one drive at two in the morning to Steak n’ Shake that took us through a really scary stretch that could have been lifted straight from this movie.

I appreciate the film as the little indie that could.  It has taken in over $6 million at the box office and garnered significant Oscar buzz for star Jennifer Lawrence.  Also some ancillary hype for maybe a screenplay nomination for Debra Granik (who also directed) and Anne Rosellini .  Which I’d say seems overly hopeful, but the obvious Oscar comp here is Adam’s favorite movie of all time (Frozen River), which improbably received a screenplay nom.  The movies are comparable not only as out of nowhere indie successes, they both detail the struggle of a woman trying to take care of her family against heavy odds.  The two have wildly different locations, but both are effectively used to highlight the bleakness of the protagonist’s situation.

Of course, the big difference between the two is that Frozen River is nearly unwatchable, while Winter’s Bone is a decent enough movie.  I’ll be honest, I don’t entirely understand the buzz surrounding the film.  As with Melissa Leo, it seems the hype has started with the performance of the leading actress and cascaded down.  But I think Jennifer Lawrence is benefiting from the perception of her role, rather than the role itself.  She plays a young woman forced to raise her two younger siblings because her mom suffers from a mental disability, and her meth-making dad is missing.  Lawrence’s character wades her way through the murky happenings of her drug-dealing clan in an effort to find her father.  So yes, I appreciate the dearth of strong, young, female leads in dramas, and I certainly mean no disrespect to Ms Lawrence.  But originality does not equal greatness.  If the part was rewritten for a male and performed by a actor of similar accomplishment, I don’t think I’m writing this post.

And like I say, I’m not here to knock Jennifer Lawrence.  I think she does a fine job, and am looking forward to seeing her in the future.  But I don’t think she’s going to be anywhere near my supporting actress list, come year end.  I want to also note John Hawkes and Dale Dickey turning in solid work, which I hope leads to more jobs.  Anyway, Winter’s Bone is an average movie that you probably won’t regret catching on DVD at some point.  But if you want a taste of the Ozarks, I recommend actually going there.  Or, if that isn’t an option, watch Justified.

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