Winter's Bone

Winter's Bone Information

Winter's Bone is a 2010 American independent drama film, an adaptation of Daniel Woodrell's 2006 novel of the same name. Written and directed by Debra Granik, the film stars Jennifer Lawrence as a teenaged girl in the rural Ozarks of the United States who, to protect her family from eviction, must locate her missing father. The film explores the interrelated themes of close and distant family ties, the power and speed of gossip, self-sufficiency, and poverty as they are changed by the pervasive underworld of illegal methamphetamine labs.

Winter's Bone won several awards including the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic Film at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. It also received four 2011 Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor.


Seventeen-year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) looks after her mentally ill mother, her twelve-year-old brother Sonny and her six-year-old sister Ashlee. Every day, Ree makes sure her siblings eat, while teaching them basic survival skills like hunting and cooking. The family is very poor. Ree's father, Jessup, has not been home for a long time and his whereabouts are unknown. He is out on bail following an arrest for manufacturing methamphetamine.

The sheriff tells Ree that if her father does not show up for his court date, they will lose the house because it was put up as part of his bond. Ree sets out to find her father, following his trail into a world where meth use is common, violence is frequent, women are scared of their men, and people are bound by codes of loyalty and secrecy. She starts with her meth-addicted uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes) and continues on to more distant kin, eventually trying to talk to the local crime boss, Thump Milton. Milton refuses to see her; the only information Ree comes up with are warnings to leave the situation alone and stories that Jessup died in a meth lab fire or skipped town to avoid the trial.

When Jessup fails to appear for the trial, the bondsman comes looking for him and tells Ree that she will have about a week before the house and land are seized. Ree tells him that Jessup must be dead, because "Dollys don't run." He tells her that she will need to provide proof that her father is dead in order to avoid the bond's being forfeited.

Ree tries to go to see Milton again and is severely beaten by his women. Teardrop shows up and rescues Ree, promising her attackers that she will not say anything or cause any more trouble. Teardrop tells Ree that her father was killed because he was going to inform on other meth cookers, but he does not know who killed him; he warns her that if she ever finds out who did that she must not tell him because he would kill that person.

A few nights later, the same three Milton women who beat Ree come to her house. They offer to take her to see "her daddy's bones". The women place a burlap sack on her head and drive her to a pond, where they get into a rowboat and row to the shallow place where her father's submerged body lies. They tell Ree to reach into the freezing water and grasp her father's hands so they can cut them off with a chainsaw; the severed, decaying arms will serve as proof of death for the authorities. Ree takes the hands to the sheriff, telling him that someone flung them onto the porch of her house.

The bondsman comes back to the house and gives Ree the cash portion of the bond, which was put up by an anonymous associate of Jessup. Ree tries to give Jessup's banjo to Teardrop, but he tells her to keep it at the house for him. As he is leaving, he tells her that he now knows who killed her father. Ree reassures Sonny and Ashlee that she will not ever leave them, regardless of the money she just received. As the film closes, Ashlee retrieves Jessup's banjo and strums its strings.


  • Jennifer Lawrence as Ree Dolly
  • John Hawkes as Teardrop Dolly
  • Lauren Sweetser as Gail
  • Garret Dillahunt as Sheriff Baskin
  • Dale Dickey as Merab
  • Shelley Waggener as Sonya
  • Kevin Breznahan as Little Arthur
  • Ashlee Thompson as Ashlee Dolly
  • Tate Taylor as Satterfield
  • Sheryl Lee as April
  • Cody Shiloh Brown as Floyd
  • Isaiah Stone as Sonny Dolly



Winter's Bone received widespread critical acclaim. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 94% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 157 reviews, for an average score of 8.3/10. The site's "consensus" reads, "Bleak, haunting, and yet still somehow hopeful, Winter's Bone is writer-director Debra Granik's best work yet"?and it boasts an incredible, starmaking performance from Jennifer Lawrence." Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 1"100 reviews from film critics, reports a rating score of 90 based on 35 reviews, placing the film in Metacritic's "universal acclaim" category. Roger Ebert gave the film 4 out of 4 stars, praising Lawrence's steely "hope and courage" that remains optimistic despite her tribulations, and calling attention to Granik's direction that avoids passing moral judgement on the characters or descending into stereotypes. Reviewer Peter Travers found the film "unforgettable", writing in Rolling Stone, "Granik handles this volatile, borderline horrific material with unblinking ferocity and feeling.... In Lawrence, Granik has found just the right young actress to inhabit Ree. Her performance is more than acting, it's a gathering storm." Web-based critic James Berardinelli said that "Winter's Bone is a welcome reminder that thrillers don't have to be loud and boisterous to grab the attention and keep it captive." David Edelstein wrote in New York magazine, "For all the horror, it's the drive toward life, not the decay, that lingers in the mind. As a modern heroine, Ree Dolly has no peer, and Winter's Bone is the year's most stirring film." New Yorker critic David Denby called Winter's Bone "one of the great feminist works in film." The A. V. Club put the film at No. 1 on their list of the best movies of the year.


Winter's Bone debuted in cinemas in mid-June 2010, with its opening weekend generating "a hearty" $84,797 on four screens; the movie's subsequent outing and expansion to 39 total venues yielded sales of $351,317 (for a per-theater average of $9,008). The film's distributors Roadside Attractions aimed, concurrently with New York, Los Angeles and Boston, at "heartland cities" such as Minneapolis, Overland Park, St. Louis, Springfield, Dallas and Denver, which eventually all attracted significant audiences, surpassing New York's. According to the distributor, "the filmmakers had always wanted to deliver the movie to the people who helped them make it." As of March 2011, the film had grossed over $6.5 million in domestic ticket sales and $7.3 million internationally.


The film won the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic Film and the Best Screenplay Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. It also received two awards at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival in Germany and at the 2010 Stockholm International Film Festival, it won the awards for Best Film, Best Actress (Lawrence) and the Fipresci Prize.

Winter's Bone also won Best Feature and Best Ensemble Performance at the 2010 Gotham Awards and it earned seven nominations at the 2010 Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actress.

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