Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) is a young girl living in the Bathtub, an area outside of New Orleans separated from the rest of the world by a levee. Her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), is neglectful, unwell and possibly alcoholic. They live in separate houses next to each other and her mother is absent. At school she is learning about Aurochs, creatures who live under the ice and will be revealed as the icecaps melt and the planet warms. When a storm hits New Orleans, the area is devastated. Eventually, the residents of the Bathtub are rounded up by authorities and Wink is put in hospital. When she realises how sick her father is, Hushpuppy takes a trip to find her mother and ends up face to face with the Aurochs.
The style and emotions of this film far overtook the story for me – so much so that I had to do some research after watching it to recount the plot. This did not bother me one iota, however. I just wanted Hushpuppy to get through and have a better life. Usually, I need more than just beauty. Neither Tree of Life nor Holy Motors really did it for me despite the elegant beauty of each. Yet Beasts of the Southern Wild grabbed me, perhaps because there is tangible plot, and characters who I truly cared about, especially Hushpuppy who broke my heart with her need to take charge of her life despite her youth.
Beasts of the Southern Wild was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role (Quvenzhane Wallis), Best Achievement in Directing (Benh Zeitlin) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Lucy Alibar and Ben Zeitlin). It was also nominated for a BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay.