Winter’s Bone (2010, Debra Granik)

Katy and I were surprised that the movie had a happy ending. Then again, the happy ending consists of the lead character finding her dead father and sawing off his hands. She spends the previous ninety minutes in an atmosphere of such threat and menace, surrounded by hostile neighbors and relatives, all with guns in their hands, that we’re just stunned she’s alive, and with some money to boot.

Katy picked this because lead actress Jennifer Lawrence will star in The Hunger Games (having played Mystique in the X-Men prequel along the way). I was also glad to see Sheryl “Laura Palmer” Lee, first movie I’ve watched of hers since the great Mother Night. Lawrence is a dirt-poor girl with a messed-up mom and missing dad (this is all good Hunger Games practice) in a town full of angry meth dealers, some of which are her relatives but I can’t always tell which. What’s for sure is that this is a town which values shutting-the-fuck-up above all else, and even though she has damn good reason to go asking after her father (she’ll lose her house if he skips bail), all these questions are making people nervous, so they resolve to deal with her. Fortunately she makes a sorta friend in Uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes of Me and You and Everyone We Know) who helps her out, probably dooming himself.

Nominated for oscars but beaten by The King’s Speech, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Aaron Sorkin.