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The Truth About Movies: True Grit Meets Expectations

When you are among the early favorites for the major Oscar categories, there are certain expectations. Meeting these expectations is often difficult. Surpassing them is nearly impossible. Without taking anything away from True Grit, it perfectly met our expectations. The Coen brothers took a huge gamble, recreating an Academy Award winning western from 1969 which starred legends like John Wayne, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper and Glen Campbell. Without a true Hollywood western in sight for at least a decade, it seemed like an opportunity for a fresh take on an old format. This is exactly what it was.

Playing Wayne’s former role, Jeff Bridges did what he does best. He gave a brilliant performance as a U.S. Marshall with a major drinking problem, a happy trigger finger and a distaste for almost all other human beings. I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m not a huge fan of Bridges. With that in mind, I was stunned to read back over the Golden Globe nominations and not see a nomination for him as Best Actor in a Drama. While I don’t believe he will win this award if nominated at the Oscars, he deserves the nomination.

The movie was stolen by Hailee Steinfeld who played Mattie Ross (played in the 1969 movie by Kim Darby). Her performance was incredible. She showed incredible poise as a young actress. Her back and forth dialogue with the Hollywood veterans she was surrounded by showed her brilliance. For a girl of just 14 making her debut as a leading lady, she blew me away. Her performance reminded me of that of another young star in Hollywood. Chloe Moretz delivered a similar performance in a much smaller movie earlier in 2010 as a cold blooded, revenge seeking killer in Kick Ass. Both of these actresses showed an ability to play roles written for girls with a maturity level well beyond their young ages (Moretz is actually one year younger than Steinfeld).

Matt Damon and westerns are two things I never thought I would hear in the same sentence. I can’t believe I’m saying this but it actually worked. Damon portrays a Texas Ranger who is as flashy as a horseback law enforcer could be. Despite a corny accent, Damon does a great job with the role he was given. Should we expect anything else from Damon who has spent the last decade writing his name into the hall of fame along with his True Grit co-star. A role that I wanted more out of was Josh Brolin’s. He was on screen for about fifteen total minutes. Very few actors play the menacing, dark villain better than him, but there was a level of disappointment in how long it took to actually see his face.

This movie will be in the Oscar talks. While it missed out on nominations at the Golden Globes, I believe there will be a great deal of buzz about this movie come the Academy Awards, although I don’t expect many wins. There are performances that cannot be ignored and the beauty and grace in the shooting of this film are simply stunning. This movie would have been better without the buzz. It was great, not spectacular.

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2 Legacy Comments

  • Comment by Jon posted December 24, 2010 at 17:10

    True grit is not among the early favorites… Most critics are saying it won’t get nominated. If anything the 14 year old girl will be nominated but that’s it, and I agree after seeing it today… Not the Cohen brothers best work

  • Comment by Glen posted January 15, 2011 at 06:09

    True grit is nice one.I hope it will get nominated.