Mark's Best Actress Challenge

…In relentless pursuit of all performances nominated and won!

Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone” (nomination, 2010)

Somewhere along the way while watching the film Winter’s Bone, I got a little lost.  I don’t know if I was too tired or if the film was just too bleak or what, but luckily, a good, solid breakout performance by Jennifer Lawrence kept me hanging in there.  Fortunately for Lawrence, her gutsy portrayal of an Ozark-dwelling teenager responsible for taking care of her family in the absence of a drug-dealing father caught the eye of the Academy in a big way.  Released earlier in the year, Lawrence’s performance was obviously memorable enough to snag the nomination – and, perhaps even more surprisingly, the film captured a supporting nomination for Lawrence’s costar, John Hawkes, and a Best Picture nomination to boot.

At the start of the film, Ree Dolly (Lawrence) finds out that her meth-concocting father, Jessup, has put their family home in the Ozarks up for his bail bond.  When Jessup fails to show up for his court appearance, she vows to break the local code of silence to find out where he has disappeared before she and her young siblings and despondent mother are rendered homeless.  In her pursuit of the truth, the local kin are not too friendly.  Beaten up, down, and all around town, Ree is finally taken into some (albeit slight) care and confidence with her gruff uncle/Jessup’s brother, Teardrop (John Hawkes).  Though the story and film were definitely not one of my favorites of the year, it was nonetheless filmed well.  Director Debra Granik nails down the cold and bleak feel of the Ozark landscape and indeed, the chilly facade of the people living there in the winter months.  She additionally directs Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes to deservedly noteworthy performances, which will hopefully lead them both to more notice in future movies.  I’m not too certain the Academy will crown them for these portrayals, but as they always say in consolation to the losers, “sometimes the nomination is reward enough”.

If, for some strange reason, you’re looking for a film to solidify that gray, chilly feel of winter you’re currently experiencing in these seasonal doldrums, well… look no further than Winter’s Bone.  Great performances will certainly pull you through what could otherwise be a very grim and disconcerting story.

Given that I have now seen every one of the Best Actress nominated performances of 2010, my verdict stands:  this race is Natalie Portman’s to lose.  She was incredible in Black Swan.  At her heels, however, is Annette Bening in one of her best performances.  A great year for actresses.

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This entry was posted on January 31, 2011 by .
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