Jennifer Lawrence Winter's Bone

Jennifer Lawrence is tougher than Rambo in Winter's Bone.

Maybe it’s because we overheard two 20-somethings in a gym locker room ecstatically talking about the trailer for The Hangover 2, as if the release of this movie is something they will plan their summer around. Maybe it’s because of this thought-provoking GQ article about the dearth of decent movies that will be coming out of Hollywood for a long time. Or maybe we’re a little preoccupied with movies because of the impending Oscars.

Whatever it is, we’ve been thinking lately about why guys should care about movies. Not in the overly-opinionated, cinephile way — although feel free to care that much — but in a way where you might seek out film that is more intellectually stimulating than visually stimulating. (Full disclosure: we loved the first Hangover too, and surely we’ll see the second. Still, there’s no reason to think that’ll be anything more than a money grab.)

The makings of the a backward buddy movie? Not quite, but Jenni

The makings of the a backward buddy movie? Not quite, but Jennifer Lawrence (left) and John Hawkes make an Oscar-worthy pair in Winter's Bone.

So this weekend, we encourage you to rent a movie that’s nominated for best picture, and features a best actress nominee and best supporting actor nominee. It’s called Winter’s Bone, and it’s not discussed much, because frankly, it’s probably not going to score any wins come Oscar day. It’s not a movie most people would gravitate towards, and it takes place in a rural ghetto area of the Ozarks. All the main characters look tired, dirty, and desperate for a pack of Dorals. They aren’t white trash caricatures, they are true, poor, thieving white people. In some ways, it feels like a Midwest, backwoods version of The Wire. And in every way, Jennifer Lawrence — who plays the movie’s main character Ree — delivers the type of dejection, defiance and determination her role demands. These are the type of parts typically, and unfortunately, written for male characters. But Lawrence does not waste her opportunity to be great in the kind of role few actresses see. And for this, she deserves an Oscar.

We’ve seen Black Swan, and if Portman ends up winning the best actress category, we will be able to say without a doubt that Lawrence was robbed. This isn’t a knock on Portman, she was very good. But we also know Darren Aronovsky resuscitated Mickey Rourke’s career and made Marlon Fucking Wayans look brilliant in Requiem for a Dream. So we’re pretty sure Portman’s performance was greatly enhanced by a brilliant director. We might be able to say that in a few year’s about Lawrence in Winter’s Bone, but right now we can’t.

If you’ve already seen Winter’s Bone, or perhaps grew up in the Ozarks and can’t bear to watch a movie about it, then head over to one of Chicago’s best theaters, The Landmark in Lincoln Park, and go check out the Oscar nominated short films and short, live-action films. They are usually pretty good, and if you’re attending an Oscar party, you’ll probably be the only person with an actual opinion about whether the Academy picked the right winners.

Finally, it would seem that the King’s Speech is a favorite to win Best Picture. No arguments if that’s the case, but if there was an award for Most Important Picture, it’d be The Social Network by a landslide. Like it or not, Facebook — or something like it — will be ingrained in our society for a long time. So someone was going to make a movie about its beginnings. The fact that this seminal moment in our culture wasn’t butchered in movie form is an achievement on its own. But the Social Network went beyond just not sucking; it’s completely riveting and for that it should be celebrated.

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