I watched "Winter's Bone" last night, as part of my mission to watch as many Oscar-nominated movies as I can before awards night. I didn't know what this movie was about before I popped in the disc, and I'm not sure whether I would have watched it if I knew. This is not an uplifting story.
Ree is 17 years old and caring for her two younger siblings and her mentally ill mother in a cabin deep in the Ozarks. The cabin isn't much. It's lacking in heat and electricity, and the couches double as the kids' beds. But that little building is their home, and they're about to lose it because Ree's absent, meth-cooking father has put the property up as collateral on his bond and disappeared. Ree needs to find him or risk losing everything.
This movie is populated with hard, dangerous people. The setting is similarly hard and unforgiving: a bleak, wintry forest. Ree herself is tough enough to survive in this harsh place, but she also has a purity and goodness. She patiently teaches her siblings their spelling and math. She also teaches them how to shoot and gut squirrels and instills in them the pride of the Ozarks: "Never ask for what should be offered."
Jennifer Lawrence is nominated for best actress. Her performance is subtle and real, but she won't win against the juggernauts of Natalie Portman and Annette Benning.
Next up: Finally going to see "The King's Speech" this afternoon.