A stunning central performance from Jennifer Lawrence knocks this (Best Picture-nominated) film out of the park. I can't see any of the other Best Actress nominees giving such an unshowy performance, all internal strength and determination played off against quite apparent physical vulnerability.
She plays the oldest daughter of a father who has apparently skipped bail, having put up for collateral the house where she and her mentally-ill mother and two child siblings live. With no choice but to track him down she ends up in increasingly desperate and dangerous situations.
It's a slow burn but tense, atmospheric film, the mood added to by Dickon Hinchcliffe's score, an omnipresent but unsettling and low-key companion to the action. The harsh winter environment of hardship and doom put me slightly in mind of River's Edge, but that seems flashy and shallow in comparison. John Hawkes of Deadwood has also been deservedly nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Lawrence's uncle and Sheryl "Laura Palmer" Lee deserves a mention for her unbeautified cameo.