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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Take Notice, Oscar

Well, even if young Americans can't play tennis any longer, they can at least still make good movies. And one of the best of 2010 was "Winter's Bone", which we finally saw two nights ago. "Winter's Bone" is the story of a 17 year-old Ozark Mountain girl, Ree, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who has to hunt down her missing-in-action, meth-cooking father to keep her mother and younger siblings from being evicted from their home. The story is simple, with no gimmicky twists and turns, but it is riveting none-the-less, and we'd be shocked if it didn't rake in some Oscar nominations on Monday.

(jennifer lawrence and john hawkes)

Jennifer Lawrence stands out as Ree, and John Hawkes is especially good/scary as her coke-addicted Uncle Teardrop. But the real stand-outs in the film are the place and time. "Winter's Bone" is an all-too real depiction of poverty in rural America and the lengths to which families in those places will go to survive. It's also a startlingly bleak look at the mafia-like environment which has grown up around the rural drug industry. But aside from the poverty and drug culture, what caught our attention the most in the movie was the extent to which manners and a strict code of conduct still matter in some places, and how some women still stand by their men, no matter what, and no matter what kind of men they might be.

"Winter's Bone" is way too bleak for most people; it's definitely not a feel-good movie. It's gritty, realistic and depressing, and it's a movie that every Republican politician should have to watch the next time they need a reminder of what it's really like out there for those "real Americans" who they claim to know so much about. The Oscar nominations will be announced on Monday, and we fully expect Lawrence and Hawkes to come away with some much-deserved recognition.

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