Say hello to the dark horse of this year’s nominations; the fact that the bleak Winter’s Bone has been nominated is an undeniable blessing. An affecting, harrowing tale of Ree Dolly’s search for her wayward father will endure as one of the greatest largely-unseen films of last year. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is one of the most believable and unassuming of the nominations, (and as much as I love Portman, it would be a victory, albeit a bittersweet one, if Lawrence nicked it from under her nose). If anything, the fact that Winter's Bone is in the list makes me extremely glad so as to raise its profile and get it seen. Again, Debbie Granik did not receive a Directing nomination, so there won't be a repeat of last year's Kathryn Bigelow female victory, but Granik's passion for her craft is evident. But like I said, its inclusion is enough and its chances are better than most.
Would it have been nominated before the 10-nomination rule?
I’m going to say no. It would have been between this and True Grit, but I can’t quite explain why I think the Academy wouldn’t have swung towards this. Probably would average out on other nominations, and whilst True Grit has got a Direction and Screenplay nomination for the Coen’s and noms for Bridges and Steinfeld to boot, Winter’s Bone has only been recognised for Lawrence and John Hawkes, for Supporting Actor, who fully deserve their nominations, and Screenplay. Also, more people know True Grit and the Academy are generally quite lazy, so less members have probably seen Winter's Bone. The extension to 10 nominees is effective when films like this get noticed for their worth.
Rating out of 5: ●●●●●
Chances out of 5: ●●●●●