#30. Frozen River (2008): One of the many splendors of the movies is that they also act as vehicles for social commentary; Frozen River does just that. Turning in an Oscar-nominated performance, Melissa Leo stars as Ray Eddy. A single working mother struggling to support her two children. Ray works as a clerk at a local convenience store, barely making ends meet. Life becomes even more difficult when her car is stolen. When she finally tracks it down, she encounters Lila (Misty Upham) who defends steeling Ray’s car by claiming that she found the car abandoned with the keys in it. What ensues is an uneasy alliance between Ray and Lila as they address their individual financial woes by smuggling illegal aliens across the U.S./Canada border. Written and directed by Courtney Hunt, Frozen River is as much a story about the illicit smuggling of human beings as is it is a story of clashing cultures between whites in a rural upstate New York town and the residents of a nearby Native American reservation. As a winner of the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic), the film succeeds on the strength of the relationship between Ray and Eddy. In addition to struggling financially, Lila has her own family problems as she struggles to prove that she is responsible enough to take custody of her young daughter. In the end, Frozen River is a unfriendly reminder of how much two people from different cities and cultural backgrounds may have in common as it relates to life’s struggles.