This dark horse in the Best Picture category was filmed nearby in Christian county Missouri. "Winter's Bone" follows the story of Ree Dolly, portrayed by one of this year's best actress nominees Jennifer Lawrence. Ree is dealing with having to be a mother to her two younger siblings while having an ill mother and a missing father. It dwells into the meth culture in the area. In total, along with best picture and actress, Winter's Bone has also been nominated for best supporting actor and best adapted screenplay.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with actress Shelly Waggener who portrays Sonya in the film. Sonya is the neighbor and cousin of the lead character Ree. I asked her about hearing the news of the Oscar nominations. "I couldn't believe it. I almost fell out of the bed, could not believe it." Filmed on location in SW Missouri, Winter's Bone shows a side of the area that many may not be aware of. The problem of meth.
"The locals were one thing I was concerned about. Their reaction to the film. But most of them when they saw the film would say things like 'Oh, that could be my uncle' or 'I think I know somebody like that.' Everybody could kind of relate to it." Even though "Winter's Bone" covers a heavy topic, Shelly thinks it could be used in an educational way. "I didn't worry about taking my son to it and he was 14 at the time when it came out. So we didn't worry about it so much because it is such a reality, and it is something that I think is important for children to know. That there is a problem out there, and you may be approached by somebody especially in the areas we live in."
This film displays alot of realism into the life of locals in the area. One part being the hunting way of life including the cleaning of animals you hunt. "I had experience with seeing it done but I never. I told William White, who plays my husband in that scene, I'm just gonna hold the bag and you just... Then later on I'm watching the movie and I'm swingin' that thing all over the place. I don't even remember doing that. As long as I don't recall it I think I'm good."
But was it a real deer, or a movie prop? "It was actually a goat." Shelly's career includes movies like "Punch Drunk Love" and a Lifetime TV series. But this is her first work in some time, another priority popped up in her life for a while. "When I got married, my son came with the deal and we decided that L.A. was not gonna be the place for him, so I took a hiatus and just as I was wanting to be back in, Winter's Bone dropped in my lap."
But the role of Sonya wasn't her first choice. "I originally went into read for the part of Victoria, which was Teardrop's wife, but after the read, they liked it so much they asked me if I wanted to play Sonya." Every actor has a favorite scene from every film they work on. But in a display that shows her love of the craft over her own glory, Shelly chose one she was not a part of. "I think personally my favorite is the ending scene where she has to go and find her father and with the chainsaw. That whole scene is just amazing. That's just a really moving scene to me." When asked what this entire awards experience has been like, "surreal, I never knew what that word meant until this last year. With the success that Winter's Bone has had, it just been like 'oh my goodness." Winter's Bone is up against some heavy competition but Shelly remains optimistic. "Oscar like underdogs! Hurt Locker last year so, and Katherine Bigelow is a very big supporter of Winter's Bone. So hopefully we'll see."