Wednesday, 2 March 2011

True Grit

Why didn't True Grit win an Oscar? Not necessarily The Oscar, for best film, but just any Oscar? It was nominated in ten categories but won zilch. It's only the fourth film ever to be nominated for at least ten awards and come away with nothing.

Jeff Bridges was immense as Rooster Cogburn. Bitter, tough, heartless and a big softie all at once. It's been a while since I've seen the John Wayne version but I don't recall being as impressed with it. Wayne's movies - probably the era they were made more than anything - could be over sentimental. The Coen's reading of the story is bang up to date: you feel every bullet as it finds its mark. It's gloriously dirty and packed with great dialogue.

But I can see why Bridges didn't win. His performance was quite a contrast to Colin Firth's proper King George. There were times you didn't catch more than ten per cent of what Rooster was saying. And the Academy would have hated that: Firth gives a performance, Bridges could so easily be dismissed as just slurring his way through the script. But the wonderful thing about his performance was that you didn't need to know exactly what he was saying. You just had to look at his great, granite like face, and it all fitted.

The real star of the show is the girl, Hailee Steinfeld, who provides such a perfectly balanced central performance. Damon is also fantastic. I've heard people complain that the finale doesn't add up to much, but I disagree. The final shoot out is brutal in the extreme - though I expected the action to be prolonged  a little - and the twist with what happens to the girl is terrific cinema.

In another year it would have walked it. But it wasn't the Coen's turn (they've had theirs for a while) and for some reason The King's Speech ruled supreme.

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