The Oscars stiffed “Winter’s Bone,” a fantastic young woman’s odyssey

This isn’t a surprise or a shock: the Academy Awards continually support those movies, which the masses want, so that must be why they exist – to praise those movies that satisfied the majority.

The New York Times, and a few other critically and incisively minded newspapers complain, every couple of years, about the lack of smart, personal movies that challenge us, but those clash masses, “Winter’s Bone.”

Jennifer Lawrence (middle) with her movie siblings

Movie-lovers, who wait patiently for those sort of experiences, and largely ignore the common and insipid ones (which most viewers pay for) and which Hollywood in-turn provides, find the situation morose, even maddening.

Even though the United States’ 310-million population is just over 51 percent female, and women have major money power, there are very few films made for or about strong women.  And fewer smart, engrossing stories about them.

“Winter’s Bone” is a superior film to “The King’s Speech,” which was splendid unto itself.  Still this’s the story of a very young woman who’s pushed by circumstances to contend with something well beyond her years.   And she does so, at her physical and mental peril with no social support system.  That beats the story of a middle-aged, spoiled aristocrat, whose father mercilessly bullied him.

At least as expected “Winter’s Bone” was recognized by the Film Independent Spirit awards with best supporting awards for Dale Dickey and John Hawkes’ subtle, menacing portrayals.  These came after Black Swan got the lavish that it needed.

“Winter’s Bone” demands more from the viewers, more of an investment than “The King’s Speech” does.  It’s more complex and subtle, has a more profound and far less understood social context, and has voice that’s at least a little more personal.