True Grit (2010)
Release year: 2010
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Screenwriter: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Charles Portis (Novel)
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, Dakin Matthews, Domhnall Gleeson
Ratings: 10 Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Art Direction.
Fourteen year old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) seeks justice for her father’s murderer, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), and wants to hire the toughest U.S. Marshall she can find to help her. She is told that Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) is a man of true grit and she makes him an offer. They are joined by a Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who has been chasing Chaney and together the unlikely trio heads out looking for a wanted man.
Based on the 1968 novel by Charles Portis, it was first adapted by Henry Hathaway in 1969 with John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn. This time it has been picked up by the Coen brothers (O Brother, Where Art Thou? 2000), who are making their adaption of the novel, not a remake of the 1969 movie. Though there is a story and the characters have an agenda, there is no doubt that this is a very character driven movie. Mattie, Rooster and LaBoeuf are three very different people; their differences bring tension to the story, and later as they get to know each other in hard times, respect for each other. They are amazing characters, well written and made very real and likeable by magnificent performances by the three actors. Hailee Steinfeld, only thirteen years old, makes her debut as the hard-headed and stubborn Mattie and does such a good job that it earned her an Oscar nomination (though why it was Best Supporting Actress and not Best Actress, I do not know), but maybe it is because, despite Steinfeld having most screen time, Bridges (The Big Lebowski 1998) tends to steal the movie. His screen presence as Rooster is so magnetic and leaves such a big impression, that at the end of the movie, he is what you remember and when you watch it again, he is who you wants to see again. Bridges was also nominated for an Oscar, and in his case it was for Best Actor. Damon (The Bourne Identity 2002) is great as LaBoeuf, but the role is smaller and is overshadowed by the two strong characters around him. This may be a western, but if you are not a fan of the western genre, do not let that stop you. As mentioned it is a character driven movie, more a character drama in western disguise. If not for the beauty of the gritty grey shots, the great wellwritten story and dialogue, then watch it for the outstanding acting.
The movie was nominated for ten Oscars without wining a single one of them, making it one of the most nominated movies to not win an Oscar.
Picture copyright: UIP