If you haven't yet seen Winter's Bone grab a DVD of the film. You are going to hear a lot about this film in the next few weeks as the awards season is going to be in full swing.
You might also want to read the sad but in the long run a life affirming novel of the same name that inspired this film. The film, which played in art-houses in the first quarter of the year, works as a solid thriller. a survival drama and a commentary on grinding poverty in America. It is also filled with marvelous performances and heart wrenching situations.
Among the small budget movies, costing anything between $2 million and $20 million, the Oscar nomination buzz has mostly been bestowed on The King's Speech; The Kids Are Alright and Black Swan.
But on Monday night, Winter's Bone which has garnered some of the best reviews of the year and turned out to be a good success corresponding to its budget entered the race. A gritty drama of family bond and survival instincts, scriptwriter and director Debra Granik's film beat Black Swan and The Kids Are Alright to win the best film of the year at 20th Gotham Film Awards.
Given by the Independent Filmmaker Project, America's oldest and largest organisation of independent filmmakers, the awards kick off the film award season. Last year's winner The Hurt Locker [ Images ], a film which has barely grossed $30 million worldwide, went on to win the Oscars [ Images ] for the best film, director and screenplay beating the mighty Avatar which had grossed about $2 billion at the time of the awards.
Made for about $2 million, Winter's Bone, which is now on DVD and Blu-ray, has earned about $10 million worldwide. It is likely it will be in a handful of theaters soon as more awards and 10 best films of the year lists by critics are announced.
Based on a well received novel by Daniel Woodrell, the film focuses on a teenager who takes big risks in her search for drug dealing and career criminal father who put their house up for his bail bond and then disappears. She has already been caring for her all-but-catatonic mother and her younger siblings, and now she feels she is out of options.
If she fails in her pursuit, she and her family will be turned out into the Ozark woods. In her dangerous mission, she confronts lies, evasions and threats but her resolve remains intact.
Granik, 47, whose first feature, Down To The Bone won her plenty of acclaim six years ago, has consolidated her reputation as a director who celebrates resourceful and spunky women in her films.
'I will always be mesmerised by individuals where I feel like it would be easy to feel defeated, and yet this person's not,' she said in an interview recently.
'I will always be curious about where a person gets that kind of fuel. It's a lovely thing to witness. I think we're all attracted to when we see someone try to help themselves. It's a very attractive part of human behaviour, given that we have so much unattractive stuff to look at in ourselves and others. That's one that will always catch my eye. It's not like we can always make a poster child for the idea that people are helping themselves. It's a winsome, attractive part of human endeavour: to make your life worth living, really. And how do we live without getting weary of life, and bitter and jaded and whatnot?'
Woodrell who also wrote Ride With the Devil, the civil war story that later became the ill-fated Ang Lee [ Images ] film; published Winter's Bone four years ago.
Granik has said he recounted to her that he was standing in line at a convenience store in one of the poorest sections of southern Missouri and there was a teenage girl in front of him and there was a child on each side of her. He discovered that the oldest girl was responsible for the others and she had $7 to feed the three of them. Woodrell began to think how was she going to do this, did she have any other resources and were there any adults in her life? This experience, he told Granik, was a direct source of his inspiration for Winters Bone.
Winter's Bone also claimed the Best Ensemble Performance for its cast at the Gotham event. At Sundance Film Festival it won the rand jury prize for best drama.
The reviewers in major publications welcomed it warmly. The movie 'is what we have been waiting for: a work of art that grabs hold and won't let go,' declared The New Yorker.
USA Today which gave the film four stars out of four asserted that Jennifer Lawrence who plays the teen protagonist deserves an Oscar nomination.