Winter's Bone

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Winter's Bone
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDebra Granik
Screenplay byDebra Granik
Anne Rosellini
Based onWinter's Bone
by Daniel Woodrell[1]
Produced byAnne Rosellini
Alix Madigan-Yorkin
CinematographyMichael McDonough
Edited byAffonso Gonçalves
Music byDickon Hinchliffe
Anonymous Content
Winter's Bone Productions
Distributed byRoadside Attractions
Release dates
  • January 21, 2010 (2010-01-21) (Sundance)
  • June 11, 2010 (2010-06-11) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2 million[2][3]
Box office$16.1 million[3]

Winter's Bone is a 2010 American coming-of-age[4] drama film directed by Debra Granik. It was adapted by Granik and Anne Rosellini from the 2006 novel of the same name by Daniel Woodrell. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence as a poverty-stricken teenage girl named Ree Dolly in the rural Ozarks of Missouri who, to protect her family from eviction, must locate her missing father.

Winter's Bone received critical acclaim upon release, with high praise directed towards Lawrence's performance. The film also emerged as a commercial success at the box-office, earning $16.1 million on a budget of $2 million.

The film won several awards, including the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic Film at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. It received four Oscar nominations at the 83rd Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Lawrence (who at 20 was the second-youngest Best Actress nominee at the time), and Best Supporting Actor for John Hawkes. In addition, Lawrence was nominated for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama and Outstanding Leading Actress at the 68th Golden Globe Awards and 17th Screen Actors Guild Awards, respectively.


In the rural Ozarks of Missouri, seventeen-year-old Ree Dolly looks after her mentally ill mother, Connie, twelve-year-old brother Sonny, and six-year-old sister Ashlee. She makes sure her siblings eat and teaches them survival skills such as hunting and cooking. The family is destitute. Ree's father, Jessup, has not been home for a long time; his whereabouts are unknown. He is out on bail following an arrest for manufacturing meth.

Sheriff Baskin tells Ree that if her father does not appear 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. She starts with her meth-addicted uncle Teardrop and continues 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 has 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 must provide proof that her father is dead to avoid the bond being forfeited. Later, Ree talks to an Army recruiter about enlisting for the $40,000 bonus, but he tells her that she needs her parents' signatures to enlist and that she has the wrong reasons.

Ree tries to go see Milton again and is severely beaten by the women of his family. Teardrop rescues Ree, promising her attackers that she will not cause 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 finds out who did, she must not tell him because he will seek revenge. On the way home, Ree and her uncle are stopped by the sheriff, who wants to question Teardrop. After a tense standoff, where Teardrop implies that he knows the Sheriff leaked that Jessup was an informer, Teardrop drives off.

A few nights later, the Milton women who beat Ree come to her house and offer to take her to "[her] daddy's bones". The women place a sack on her head and drive her to a pond, where they row to the shallow area where her father's submerged body lies. They tell Ree to reach into the water and grasp her father's hands so they can cut them off with a chainsaw; the severed hands 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 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 never leave them. As the three sit on the porch, Ashlee begins to play their father's banjo.


  • Jennifer Lawrence as Ree, a 17-year-old girl in the Ozark Mountains
  • John Hawkes as Teardrop, Ree's uncle and methamphetamine addict
  • Kevin Breznahan as Little Arthur, methamphetamine gang member
  • Dale Dickey as Merab, wife of the methamphetamine gang leader
  • Garret Dillahunt as Sheriff Baskin
  • Sheryl Lee as April, ex-girlfriend of Ree's father
  • Lauren Sweetser as Gail, Ree's friend who left school to have a baby
  • Tate Taylor as Mike Satterfield, the bail bondsman

In addition, Isaiah Stone and Ashlee Thompson play Ree's younger brother and sister, respectively.


Jennifer Lawrence's performance was universally lauded and the 20-year-old garnered her first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress, becoming the second-youngest Best Actress nominee at the time.

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 94% based on 178 reviews, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The website's critics consensus states: "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."[5] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 90 out of 100 based on 38 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[6]

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 judgment on the characters or descending into stereotypes.[7] 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."[8] 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."[9] 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."[10] New Yorker critic David Denby called Winter's Bone "one of the great feminist works in film".[11]

Top ten lists[edit]

Winter's Bone was highly rated in many critics end-of-year lists, and Metacritic ranked it in second place for the year, only behind The Social Network.[12]

The Writers Guild Foundation listed the script as one of the best in 2010s film and television. The script was praised as "filled with really specific dialogue and mountain speak, which just makes everything more vivid."[14]

Box office[edit]

Winter's Bone debuted in cinemas on June 11, 2010 in a limited release in 4 theaters and grossed "a hearty" $84,797, with an average of $21,199 per theater and ranking #35 at the box office. The film's subsequent outing and expansion to 39 theaters earned $351,317, with an average of $9,008 per theater.[15] 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.[15] According to the distributor, "the filmmakers had always wanted to deliver the movie to the people who helped them make it".[15] The film was in cinemas for over 45 weeks and ultimately earned $6,531,503 domestically and $9,600,048 internationally for a total of $16,131,551, surpassing its $2 million budget.[2]


The film won the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic Film and the Best Screenplay Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.[16] 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.[17]

Winter's Bone also won Best Feature and Best Ensemble Performance at the 2010 Gotham Awards[18] and it earned seven nominations at the 2010 Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actress.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nathan Rostron (September 25, 2013). "Daniel Woodrell talks Jennifer Lawrence, new book". USA Today. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Winter's Bone (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Winter's Bone (2010)". The Numbers. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  4. ^ Scott, A. O. (June 10, 2010). "Where Life Is Cold, and Kin Are Cruel". The New York Times. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  5. ^ "Winter's Bone (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 12, 2023.
  6. ^ "Winter's Bone Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 4, 2023.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. "At the end will be her father, alive or dead". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
  8. ^ Travers, Peter (June 3, 2010). "Winter's Bone". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 7, 2010. Retrieved July 25, 2010.
  9. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Winter's Bone". Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  10. ^ Edelstein, David (June 6, 2010). "Ozark Gothic". New York. Retrieved July 25, 2010.
  11. ^ Denby, David (July 5, 2010). ""Thrills and Chills"". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  12. ^ Jason Dietz (December 9, 2010). "2010 Film Critic Top Ten Lists [Updated Jan. 6]". Metacritic.
  13. ^ Noel Murray; Keith Phipps; Nathan Rabin; Tasha Robinson; Scott Tobias (December 16, 2010). "The best films of 2010". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  14. ^ "10 out of '10s: Our Favorite Scripts of the Decade". The Writers Guild Foundation. December 21, 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  15. ^ a b c "Winter’s Bone Heats Up in the Heartland" Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2010
  16. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (January 31, 2010). "'Winter's Bone' wins grand jury prize for drama at Sundance". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  17. ^ "Winners 2010 – Stockholms filmfestival". Stockholm International Film Festival. Archived from the original on December 3, 2010. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
  18. ^ Ryzik, Melena (November 29, 2010). "'Winter's Bone' Dominates at Gothams". New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  19. ^ Tourtellotte, Bob (November 30, 2010). "'Winter's Bone,' 'Kids' come up big at Spirit Awards". Reuters. Retrieved November 30, 2010.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Sundance Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Dramatic
Succeeded by