Feb 22, 2011

[Spoiler Alert] Best Picture Nominees #6: True Grit

True Grit is a really good film, and a particularly great western. It has all the elements of classic westerns: a villain that shows up at the end and isn't remotely humanized, shifting alliances, a man alone (or woman alone), an old grudge coming to the surface, vengeance, justice, and beautifully shot landscapes.  The dialogue is direct, clipped. Every character can be described as someone who doesn't suffer fools.
"I aim to kill you!" (Not the horse)
The acting is exceptional as well.  Jeff Bridges chews the scenery and steals scenes as only Jeff Bridges can.  Matt Damon is equal parts dangerous and bumbling, a combination
that is not easy to pull off.  But the real standout is relative newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who is commanding as Mattie Ross, a girl searching for the man who did her family wrong.

If this were any other director's movie, it would be a front runner for Best Picture.  But people expect more from a Coen brothers movie. It's tainted by their history of creating masterful films, which are not always perfect but are always fresh.  Much in the same way that we expect more from Paul Thomas Anderson while simultaneously ignoring the pratfalls of Martin Scorcese and Clint Eastwood (and even giving them awards for it), younger directors like the Coen brothers still have to prove that they really are auteur filmmakers. This film, while being a really good film, doesn't really fit into the Coen brothers oeuvre. There are a few scenes that almost make it, especially a particularly funny, tense, and violent cabin conversation, but those scenes are few and far between. It's unfair to judge a movie that way, but it's there.

It's a finely made, well-executed film, but it probably won't win Best Picture.

Good Movie: Absolutely
Best Picture: No
Score: 9/10
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