In the span of less than a day, independent film cognoscenti on both coasts have declared the teeny drama “Winter’s Bone” a top film of the year. The bleak tale set in the Ozark Mountains grabbed seven nominations Tuesday for the Spirit Awards including best feature, just hours after taking home the best-film crown Monday night at the Gotham Awards in New York.
But can the underdog turn those indie kudos into Oscar gold?
Last year at this time, the Gotham Awards named “The Hurt Locker” its top winner, the first time in the show’s history that it tapped an eventual Oscar best picture. In contrast, last year’s Spirit nominations favored “Precious” and “The Last Station,” both of which were recognized at the Academy Awards but were not the big victors of the night. (“Precious” took home two Oscars — for supporting actress and adapted screenplay.)
This year, many of the possible big Oscar competitors weren’t eligible for Spirit Awards consideration because their budgets ran over the $20-million limit or, as in the case of the Colin Firth-starrer “The King’s Speech,” they aren’t American productions.
And once the studio big boys, such as “The Social Network,” the Coen brothers’; “True Grit” and “The Fighter,” compete on the same playing field, it will be interesting to see whether “Winter’s Bone” can hold its own.