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1,018 Ratings

Frozen River

Directed by Courtney Hunt
United States, 2008
Crime, Drama, Thriller


Takes place in the days before Christmas near a little-known border crossing on the Mohawk reservation between USA and Canada. Two women are drawn into the world of border smuggling across the frozen water of the St. Lawrence River.

Frozen River Directed by Courtney Hunt

Awards & Festivals

Academy Awards

2009 | 2 nominations including: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Sundance Film Festival

2008 | 2 wins including: Dramatic (Grand Jury Prize)

Independent Spirit Awards

2009 | 2 wins including: Best Female Lead

2009 | 5 nominations including: Best Feature

What are people saying?

  • klofter's rating of the film Frozen River

    Very good! I didn't catch it when it came out and I remember that Melissa Leo's performance got pretty much all the praise for this but the story itself, while a slow burner, is quietly affecting and gripping to the end. There's lots of themes here that are well worth out attention and every honest look at modern-day life on/around Indian reservations is greatly appreciated. A gem all around.

  • Steve G.'s rating of the film Frozen River

    Melissa Leo's performance is what Frozen River is mostly remembered for, and with some justification. Her strength of performance in a role shot through with a spectrum of emotions is a remarkable effort. But this tightly scripted drama has a splendidly paced plot that is gripping right to the end. Variable acting quality from other parties, but a fine film indeed.

  • msmichel's rating of the film Frozen River

    Even better on 2nd viewing, Hunt's debut feature tells a spellbinding tale set in a New York State border town whose reservation straddles the border between the U.S. and Canada. The hard existence in a economically challenged area is well felt with interrelated stories between a middle aged white woman and a young Mohawk mother. Melissa Leo shines in an Oscar nominated turn and the late Misty Upham is a revelation.

  • Christopher R. Smith's rating of the film Frozen River

    This gritty indie drama is highlighted by an exceptional performance from the very underrated Melissa Leo. Unfortunately, other than Leo and a few strong moments, there's not much else to recommend. The other actors are amateurish and the story is slow-paced, bogged down by some tedious minutia. Not a terrible film, but not particularly memorable.

  • Rory Dunn's rating of the film Frozen River

    Limp. Lazy. Unmotivated. Oh, how I wish I could see what Melissa Leo saw in this project. What could have motivated her to continue working on it. Maybe it was the hope that her character's somewhat interesting if relatively lame storyline will shine through. In any case, with some of the laziest direction you may ever see on a professional film, and some of the worst acting as well, this is a miss.

  • UnbrandedFilms's rating of the film Frozen River

    The lack of action provides the frame to the hopelessness of a life lived in the grip of poverty from which there is no escape, whatever border you cross. This film is set in America on the border with Canada, but it could be anywhere because that bleakness has no flag. It wears the same colours everywhere. A character-driven story and a good attempt at showing the matter life is made of.

  • Scotch's rating of the film Frozen River

    The film portrayed some relatable people in a fucked-up world doing some pretty awful things, but never became outrageous or abusively depressing (cough, Biutiful). It felt like a pretty profound and important portrayal of the cycles of exploitation (poverty, immigration, racism). I appreciate that the ending wasn't a squeeky clean cop-out baptist redemption. It's painful and honest, yet beautifully hopeful.

  • Joshua Dysart's rating of the film Frozen River

    It's interesting, the very thing others are attacking this film for is what I loved about it. The slowness. The obsession with minutia. The fact that nothing really horrible happens in it. It's a positive film walking around like a dark indie. I dig it.

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