Early Oscars Buzz for LEAVE NO TRACE — Jennifer Merin reports

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debra granik headBeloved by Sundance and other top film festivals, as well as by the Academy and indie awards organizations and a long list of awards-presenting critics groups, Debra Granik is attracting early Oscars buzz for Leave No Trace, her third narrative feature. AWFJ selected Leave No Trace as Movie of the Week for June 29, and an informal poll of AWFJ members shows that the film is placing high on most members’ lists of best 2018 films to date. AWFJ says Leave No Trace has legs that will lead to Oscars, come awards season.


In addition to praise from AWFJ, Leave No Trace has garnered a 100 percent ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and Granik has received universal critical acclaim for her superbly subtle storytelling style that forwards the film’s unexpected narrative and creates an environment of fear, without relying on explicit visual violence or dystopian elements.


Leave No Trace is a gripping drama that revolves around the unusual circumstances of a teenage girl who lives with her dissident father in survivalist mode, on the run, the woods. Existing in isolation, dad and daughter shun society, until they are discovered by authorities who force them to enter the mainstream and conform. Granik eschews obvious exposition to explain the renegade family’s game plan, preferring to let the script’s (co-written with Anne Rosellini) complex character development carry the narrative. Granik elicits stunningly authentic and compelling performances from Ben Foster as Will, the Dad, and newcomer Thomasin McKenzie as his daughter, Tom, as they meet the challenges of daily life and survival as defined by their unique family behavior. Oscars nods deserved by all.

leave no trace 1


Granik’s skills, style and the relevance of her concerns were evident in her first feature, Winter’s Bone (2010), which garnered four Oscars nominations, including Best Motion Picture, Best Performance by an Actress (for Jennifer Lawrence, brought into the limelight by the film), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (for John Hawkes) and Best Adapted Screenplay (for Granik and Rosellini). Winter’s Bone won 63 other awrards, including three EDA Awards from AWFJ. Additionally, the film’s 124 awards nominations included nine for AWFJ EDA Awards.

Granik’s second feature, Down to the Bone (2004) was well received on the festival circuit, but never got wide distribution and was overlooked by most awards groups.


But Leave No Trace puts Granik back on track for awards consideration and recognition. What will the Academy’s membership, newly increased in number with an eye to greater gender parity and diversity, decide to do?

leave no trace posterRead what AWFJ members have written about Leave No Trace:

Movie of the Week July 29, 2018: Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Leave No Trace Review by Nikki Baughan

Leave No Trace Review by Anne Brodie

Leave No Trace Review by Cate Marquis

Leave No Trace Review by Diane Carson

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