This writer's personal favorite film of 2010, Winter's Bone is an unrelentingly bleak and powerful portrait of rural poverty -- and secrecy -- set deep in the Ozarks, where Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence), a teenager who looks after her younger brother, sister and catatonic mother, goes on a search for her missing father, a ne'er-do-well meth cooker who has to make a court appearance or the family will lose their house. Ree's quest is made all the more difficult and harrowing by several neighbors and even extended family members who, for unknown and seemingly sinister reasons, don't want dear old dad to be found. Winter's Bone features first-class storytelling, but what really gets you is the film's perfectly executed tone and atmosphere -- you'll feel like you have your own dirty secrets as you watch this creepy mystery unfold and look on helplessly as you're unable to help poor Ree as she gets in way over her head. Great moviemaking across the board, and Lawrence is astonishingly good -- if she brings even half the intensity and gravitas to her upcoming role as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games that she does here, that film's definitely going places. John Hawkes is also excellent as her meth-addicted uncle, Teardrop -- both actors earned Oscar nominations for their performances.
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