Not just Lawrence

Posted by · 5:51 pm · August 10th, 2010

With indie darling “Winter’s Bone” beginning to sidle out of American theaters, the most important gain it leaves with — besides its not-inconsiderable $4 million gross — is a healthy head of Best Actress buzz for breakout star Jennifer Lawrence.

Sure, recognition for the screenplay may be on the cards too; even a filler Best Picture nod isn’t inconceivable, should critics rally for the film in December the way they did for “Frozen River” two years ago. But its awards hopes begin with its 19 year-old lead: she’s the story, the bright young thing whose achievement even the film’s detractors can agree on.

But should she be getting all the glory? Not so fast, says Nathaniel Rogers. In this week’s instalment of Best in Show, a self-explanatory weekly column for Tribeca Film, Rogers argues that Lawrence, fine as she is, may not even be the film’s most valued player. That position, he says, is held jointly by older character actors John Hawkes and Dale Dickey.

He writes:

Dale Dickey is riveting as the sour-faced Merab. Continually blocking Ree’s path, she’s as hard as nails and as chilling as the icy weather. Dickey complicates Merab at every turn; there’s both a shadow of violence in her moments of mercy and a hint of pity in her aggression that keep you guessing. These contradictions are communicated so naturally that her actions are impossible to predict but utterly believable once they’re transpiring.

Closer to Ree, blood-wise, is her uncle Teardrop, brilliantly handled by John Hawkes. Family is still the tie that binds, but in this unforgiving milieu it seem just as likely to bind to the point of choking, strangling or outright severing.

I second Rogers’s enthusiasm in both instances, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that either actor outdoes Lawrence’s tremendous thesping in the foreground, it’s nice to see one writer recognising the film as the rock-solid ensemble piece it is. After first seeing the film, I held out some hope that Hawkes — a wonderful actor seizing upon his meatiest role since 2005’s “Me and You and Everyone We Know” — might grab a smidgen of the film’s awards talk, but that doesn’t seem to be the case thus far.

Check out the rest of Rogers’s column here. Have you seen “Winter’s Bone” yet? Whose performance do you feel most inclined to champion?

[Photo: Ace Showbiz]

→ 20 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

20 responses so far

  • 1 8-10-2010 at 6:50 pm

    Aaron said...

    I loved Lawrence but I do think Hawkes was “best in show.” It was, at least, my favorite performance in the film and I think it’s a shame he’s not getting any awards buzz. When I saw his picture at the top of this post, I thought maybe it would be about Hawkes getting award buzz, but alas, it is about him not getting any.

  • 2 8-10-2010 at 7:52 pm

    MJS said...

    I don’t really get all the praise for Lawrence. She showed some promise here and I’m interested to see her in other things, but I think she might have actually been a little miscast in Winter’s Bone. She was just not as convincing as a redneck as everyone else around her was.

  • 3 8-10-2010 at 7:57 pm

    McAllister said...

    If only one member of the cast was to be nominated, I would pick Lawrence… but I was really pleased with Hawkes and Dickey.

  • 4 8-10-2010 at 8:16 pm

    Nick Davis said...

    Of all the things I enjoy about IC’s Oscar coverage, my absolute favorite is when you use this platform to stump for great work that may not have the loudest advance buzz, or a guarantee of sticking around in voters’ minds. It’s fun to prognosticate about perfs and films we haven’t seen yet, but for me it’s a richer pleasure to read detailed tributes to work that we know is great and that deserves everyone’s attention. Thanks for linking to this article, Guy, and for registering your own two cents.

    For my own part, Dale Dickey was the performer who grabbed me most and showed the least signs of working at it, but Hawkes and Lawrence were both memorable. The ensemble around them is pretty inconsistent, but those three sure anchor the movie gorgeously.

  • 5 8-10-2010 at 8:23 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    I’ve said it here before. Hawkes is my favorite performance in Winter’s Bone and my favorite supporting work so far this year.

  • 6 8-10-2010 at 8:25 pm

    Michael said...

    I love John Hawkes – it would make me so happy to see any kind of recognition for his work in this movie.

  • 7 8-10-2010 at 8:26 pm

    Glenn said...

    As fine as Lawrence is, I’m not sure she’s given enough to do tbh. I agree that Hawkes and Dickey are best in show here. In fact, when Dickey arrived on screen I thought “oh great, another fantastic character actress getting nothing more than a cameo” and then she came back and came back again and again! It was the most exciting thing about that movie. If the entire movie had’ve been about her then it may have reached “Frozen River” or “Monster” levels of cinema.

  • 8 8-10-2010 at 9:26 pm

    ohyouknowamy said...

    Last night, I had a dream! & in this dream, the 5 nominees for Best Supporting Actress were revealed to me:

    Amy Adams, The Fighter
    Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
    Dale Dickey, Winter’s Bone
    Melissa Leo, The Fighter
    Lesley Manville, Another Year

    Yup, pretty interesting right?! ;)

  • 9 8-10-2010 at 9:30 pm

    Zack said...

    I thought Hawkes was amazing; I loved Dickey too but I’m a little biased in Hawkes’ favor since I already loved him from his supporting parts over the years (“Deadwood” was probably what really made me fall head over heels). I agree that it’ll be an uphill struggle for both of them, mostly because they’ve made their bones through smaller work.

  • 10 8-10-2010 at 10:00 pm

    Speaking English said...

    ohyouknowamy: very interesting, especially because it’s entirely impossible to justify Annette Bening as anything other than a lead performance.

  • 11 8-10-2010 at 10:08 pm

    Danny King said...

    I am not a huge fan of the film, although I do respect the performances. I just think the story is so very basic, and even the film’s tone is disappointing; it’s rather inconsistent. By the final frames, Granik’s representation of life in the Ozarks is completely compromised.

  • 12 8-10-2010 at 10:12 pm

    Dooby said...

    Lawrence was absolutly stunning in my opinion, and would completey deserve any noms or awards she gets for her role – she brought a real life and softness to a movie that could’ve been just cold, drab and slow.

    Saying that I would definitly agree that Hawkes was excellent too, you wouldn’t find me standing in the way of a nomination for him – or Dickey for that matter.

  • 13 8-10-2010 at 11:34 pm

    ohyouknowamy said...

    Speaking English: I can say the same thing about Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal, Jean-Baptiste in Secrets & Lies, McAvoy in The Last King of Scotland, Epps in Half Nelson, Foxx in Collateral, Watts in Eastern Promises, and O’Neal in Paper Moon.

    When it comes to category placement during awards season, what’s justifiable is just about as good as anything else that splatters when thrown out the window!

  • 14 8-11-2010 at 3:49 am

    Paul Outlaw said...

    Just wait until Animal Kingdom opens…

  • 15 8-11-2010 at 7:02 am

    RichardA said...

    He’s very good. I remember him in The Perfect Storm. He’s awesome in Winter’s Bone as well. Probably, best in show.

  • 16 8-11-2010 at 11:40 am

    David said...

    Did anyone see Dale Dickey in Breaking Bad? She was so memorable as a witch-like meth addict who confronts Jesse Pinkman. Maybe for this reason alone I would like to see her nominated, but I thought she was fantastic in Winter’s Bone.

  • 17 8-11-2010 at 2:35 pm

    billybil said...

    The thing about an actress in a role like this – especially if you hadn’t seen her (or recognize seeing her) in anything else, is that she just seems so damn real, so damn perfect, that you just assume she’s not an actress. At least I fear that’s how many people respond. Ms. Dickey is truly special in this movie – more so than both Hawkes or Lawrence and they are both very fine indeed. I do love it, Mr. Lodge, when you pull attention to deserving cinematic moments. I very much agree with Nick on this. Thanks

  • 18 8-11-2010 at 2:59 pm

    sp said...

    Paul Outlaw, I hear so many great things about “Animal Kingdom”. This film is definitely on my anticipated film list.

  • 19 8-12-2010 at 7:52 am

    Nicolas Mancuso said...

    I finally saw “Winter’s Bone” last week, and the performances really are outstanding. While Lawrence and Hawkes were fantastic, I personally am rallying around Dale Dickey. Dickey scared the hell out of me with her fierce intensity and aura of danger, while keeping a mystery about her that continues to intrigue me. I think that she is definitely best in show. I am especially impressed because I had previously only seen her as Patty the Day-time Hooker on “My Name is Earl”, which is about as far removed from her Bone character as Lawrence’s is from her sexy photoshoot.

    I do, however, have some problems with the screenplay. I feel like the tone and pacing are a little off, and the relationship between Ree and Teardrop rather inconsistent.

  • 20 8-13-2010 at 10:13 pm

    tallteacher said...

    The movie was excellent; yes, it did remind me of Frozen River in its understated quiet. I hate that I read the book first, as the poetry of the book’s language and some serious plotlines were missing. (the relationship between Ree and her friend with the baby, and the one between Ree and the bail bondsman).
    I thought john Hawkes looked familiar! What did he do in Deadwood?
    Dale Dickey was amazing and I hope both she and Hawkes get nominated.