Winter’s Bone

Culture Warrior

For the first time in recent memory, I’m going into Oscar Sunday having no idea who is likely to take home many of the major awards. I’m sure there are entire websites out there devoted to an accurate prediction of who and what will take home the gold on Sunday, but there seems something a bit different about this year. Of the nine films nominated, I don’t have a clear sense of what would be the top five had AMPAS not changed the number of entries in the top category. While The Artist may clearly have more of a chance than, say, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, there’s no grand battle between likely leads like there was between The King’s Speech and The Social Network last year. And I don’t think I’m alone in stating that this year’s uninspiring list of nominees seems to reflect a growing indifference against the ceremony itself. Sure, on Sunday, like I have every year since I was eleven years old, I’ll watch the entire ceremony from beginning to end. And, like every year since I was twenty-one years old, I’ll make fun of the pompous and excessive self-congratulatory nature of the proceedings. But while in most years I have had some skin in the game, besides the two nominations afforded to the excellent Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and the presence of the transcendentally excellent Pina in the Best Documentary Feature category, this year I didn’t even get a sense that the Academy was awarding […]

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A months old interview that The Calgary Herald did with author Russell Banks is getting some new attention today, because The Playlist found a nugget of exciting movie news in it that has generally flown under everyone’s radar. Apparently Banks’ novel “Rule of the Bone” is ready to be adapted into a film, and will be directed by a name who’s recently become hot in Hollywood, Debra Granik. If you can remember back all the way to 2010, Granik directed Winter’s Bone, a Sundance film that got nominated for a lot of awards, put on a lot of year-end lists, and immediately launched the career of new it-girl actress Jennifer Lawrence. It was also my favorite film of last year, so this news of Granik’s next work has me feeling pretty jazzed. As a strange bit of trivia, this will be Granik’s third movie in a row that has the word “bone” in the title. She proceeded last year’s Winter’s Bone, a story about Ozark Mountain meth-heads, with 2004’s Down to the Bone, which starred Vera Farmiga as a drug-addicted housewife. So what’s this novel that Banks wrote about? Drugs. I think I sense a pattern forming.  The book’s Amazon description introduces it like this:

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This article is part of our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. This Sunday’s 83rd Annual Academy Awards will be the second year in a row featuring ten nominees up for Best Picture, and once again that means a list inflated with titles that have zero chance of winning the award. No one really believes the idea was a good one, but it caters to a wider array of movie fans happy to see their favorite of the year get nominated. The five “actual” contenders this year are Black Swan, The Fighter, 127 Hours, The King’s Speech, and The Social Network with those final two films as the front-runners. The nominees are listed below with my prediction for the winner in red…

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This article is part of our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. The process of making a film involves thousands of moving parts and pieces from the actors to the director to the caterers and beyond, but arguably the most integral aspect of the process is the script. I say arguable, but I’m only being polite. The script is the most important part of a film… it’s responsible for the words coming out of the actors’ mouths, for the shifts in story, for the very tale itself. Actors bring it to life and the director makes it a visual reality, but it all starts from the script. An argument could be made that scripts adapted from a previous source have most of the heavy lifting already done for them, but the ones making that case have most likely never written a script. It may be an advantage to have the story beats clearly marked out for you in advance, but it doesn’t make the process of writing a smart, entertaining, and well crafted screenplay any easier. This year sees a mixed bag of nominees in the Adapted category, and while one film seems to be a lock to win there’s at least one nominee that just don’t belong on the same stage. I’m looking at you Toy Story 3. The nominees are listed below with my prediction for the winner in red…

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This article is part of our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. The Best Supporting Actor category is one of the most interesting. As Cole and I discussed last week, there really is no stable definition of what constitutes a “supporting” role, so this category can run the gamut from scene-stealers (Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight) to memorable parts with a limited amount of screen time (Hal Holbrook for Into the Wild) to nominations that seem only to be banking off the presence of a film in other categories (Matt Damon for Invictus). Fortunately this year saw five pretty strong nominees (and three first-time nominees), but this year also exhibits the potential variance of the category. Here we have a crack addict, a sperm donator, a townie gangster, an unqualified speech therapist, and somebody named “Teardrop.” Let’s see how these five incredibly different performances size up against one another. With my winner prediction in red, here are the nominees:

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This article is part of our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. Some of you might be confused as to what the Best Actress category is exactly. Don’t worry; it’s easy enough to explain. You see, Best Actress is just like the award for Best Actor, except it’s for people with lady parts only. Why there needs to be a gender distinction when it comes to giving out awards for acting performances is beyond me. Is there something inherent in one of the genders that would give them the edge when it comes to acting? Or maybe this is a relic of an older Hollywood where all of the really meaty roles were written for men and actresses didn’t have much more to do than be the object of affection? I think we’re past that point now. I would argue not just that female actors put out work equal to male actors in 2010, but also that they were on the whole given more interesting characters to play. I say that this is the year where we need to band together and call for the end of award discrimination. Who’s with me? Maybe you should look over the nominees first. They are as follows, with my winner prediction in red.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as THEFANFROMLONDON and DinoDNA007 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the two tackle the fact that no documentary has ever been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Why all the hate, AMPAS? Sure, it has its own category, but that doesn’t deny it entry into the big game. Is there an internal bias against non-fiction? Should Jackass 3 been facing off against The Social Network? Will we see a documentary nominated for Best Picture in our lifetime?

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Awards Season junkie and editor-in-chief of In Contention, Kris Tapley, joins us to shoot the bull on the Oscars. We’ll be roasting that bull on a spit and serving it for our live-blog next month. Could Natalie Portman lose her sure-thing Oscar? Why did Inception never have a chance at Best Picture? Who will win Best Costume Design?!? We ask the tough questions. And then answer them. Plus, we also review The Mechanic in case you’d rather see something blow up besides an actor giving a thank you speech. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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At the end of the 90s, famous Oscar show writer and Celebrity Fit Club contestant Bruce Vilanch claimed that, “Generally with the Oscars…there isn’t much you can do until the nominations are announced. Then you know what kind of year you’re dealing with – what’s been overlooked, what the issues are.” He was talking about preparing to write the show, but it applies to everyone from the directors, producers and stars on down to the fans. It’s fun to guess around the water cooler (your office still has a water cooler?), but until now, it’s all been speculation. Thankfully, almost all that speculation has been spot on, so we can all continue our conversations about whether Black Swan will beat The Social Network for Best Picture. Whether Natalie Portman has any true competition for Best Actress. Whether, most importantly of all, Colleen Atwood will beat Mary Zophres for Best Costume Design. Here they are. The 2011 Academy Award nominees:

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Gather ’round my friends for the column that never ends. You’ll be delighted by the insights, come inside, come inside… Alright fine. But I get points for trying. Another round of movie news is about to be in your face just after the break. This evening we explore the blood-splattering of everyone’s favorite blood-spatter analyst, Morgan Spurlock’s meta-movie, a Wicked show with no music, fiction from a movie blogger and the big bad guy from The Green Hornet, among other shenanigans. It’s Movie News After Dark!

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As I expressed earlier in the week as our 2010 Year in Review began, I take it as a great honor that I am able to put together my list of the Best Films of the Year as part of my Editor’s Picks entry. And while I’m a massive fan of my own perspective and opinions, I’m an even bigger fan of the writing and ever-diverse tastes of the Film School Rejects reviewing staff. These are the folks who, through their sensational (and often divisive) review-writing, keep you coming back for more each and every day. They travel the world and brave the crowds at festivals, conventions, preview screenings and special events to bring you some of the industry’s sharpest, most honest film coverage. And I for one am honored to have them all on this team. Just as I did last year, I couldn’t wait to see which films each writer would put on their Top 5 lists as the best films of the year. And just as they did last year, they didn’t disappoint with their unique, ever-fascinating selections. So read on dear reader, as we present the crown jewel of our 2010 Year in Review: The Staff Picks.

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The top nominations for this year’s Indie Spirit Awards are no surprise. Winter’s Bone continues its march through the woods to find its father and an Oscar with 7 nominations (which is almost all it was even eligible for). In a close second, The Kids Are All Right finds itself with 5 nominations. If you’re a fan of female directors, this year is celebrating a number of them in the top spots, but it’s also incredibly important to point out that Samuel L. Jackson and Bill Murray are finally up for the same award. The Indepdenent Spirit Awards make a good primer for the films that might make their way into the Academy Award nominee pool. In recent tradition, the winner of the Best Feature prize goes on to be an Oscar contender (and occasional winner). Examples of that include Precious, The Wrestler, Juno, and Brokeback Mountain. The full list of nominees continues below:

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This Week in Blu-ray

Last week, I picked perhaps the worst week of the year to take a break from This Week in Blu-ray. As you will see in this week’s entry, two or three of the most impressive releases of the year hit store shelves. And it’s likely that they – the likes of Alien, Back to the Future and Hausu – have already made their way into your collection. I will be talking about them anyway, dear reader. For those of you who need a little extra nudge, here it comes. I also have plenty to say about this week’s releases, including a few deliciously crafted releases for some legitimate cinematic classics. Julie Andrews sings, Dick Van Dyke flies through the air and Bing Crosby tap-dances with Danny “F**kin’” Kaye as our weekly Blu-ray buying budget empties faster than our tear ducts during the final act of Pixar’s Toy Story 3. Give it up, Blu-ray lovers, it is perhaps the most magical time of year. Also, This Week in DVD host Rob Hunter stops buy to review a few releases that were well off my radar screen. And he does so with gusto!

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Join us each week as Rob Hunter takes a look at new DVD releases and gives his highly unqualified opinion as to which titles are worth BUYing, which are better off as RENTals, and which should be AVOIDed at all costs. And remember, these listings and category placements are meant as informational conversation starters only. But you can still tell Hunter how wrong he is in the comment section below. This week sees more Buy recommendations than we’ve ever had before! (I think.) And they include an ass-kicking serial killer flick from South Korea (The Chaser), a John Carpenter classic (Dark Star), and the brilliant new Back To the Future trilogy release. Others worth Renting or Avoiding include The Girl Who Played With Fire, Altitude, Winter’s Bone, Lake Placid 3, and more.

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Debra Granik, director of the 2010 Sundance winner Winter’s Bone sits down to talk about her work on the film.

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June 2010 Movie Guide

Now that American Idol and Lost are over, you have the entire month of June free for movies. What the hell are you going to watch?

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Winter

One can see why the people of Sundance loved Winter’s Bone enough to give it the Grand Jury Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Upon initial appearance it’s exactly the type of independent film beloved at the festival in Utah that later goes unnoticed by the rest of the world.

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Even with South by Southwest (SXSW) only a week away, we’re already looking ahead to April 8th-16th and the Dallas International Film Festival. In its first year free from the title of the AFI Dallas Film Festival, Dallas IFF is pulling out some big guns as it announced today its first 12 titles, as well as a big award being given to one of animation’s most impressive directors, Pixar’s Pete Docter.

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Last night at a ceremony here in Park City, Utah, the winners of the annual awards were announced…

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‘Winter’s Bone’ is a compelling journey through scary backwoods territory that’s most notable for Jennifer Lawrence’s great performance.

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