Frozen River (DVD)

Judging from the news coverage, you’d think Slumdog Millionaire and Benjamin Buttons were the only two movies nominated for Oscars this year. While those two movies have been sharing all the ink, thanks to genre hybrids and amazing special effects, the subtly stellar and so far grossly underrated Frozen River manages to get by solely on fantastic acting and a strong character driven storyline.

Melissa Leo (best known from Homicide: Life on the Streets) plays the mother of two sons living hand to mouth in a small trailer in the drab and frozen upstate New York. A run in with another single mom, a Mohawk woman living on a nearby reservation leads to the two smuggling immigrants into the country in the trunk of a car.

There is very little action, no big dance number during the closing credits and not a single history making special effect in Frozen River, but the acting from both Leo and her co-star Misty Upham is compelling, their performances stay with you well after the movie has ended. While the entertainment press has been a bit lax in giving this indie the attention it truly deserves, the Academy was smart enough to nominate Leo for a Best Actress award and the writer/director Courtney Hunt for a Best Screenplay award.

Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Frozen River / 2009 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / 97 Minutes / http://www.sonyclassics.com

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