Many highly regarded films have gone Oscarless, in that, True Grit sits along side the likes of Vertigo, Apocalypse Now and 2001: A Space Odyssey. That it gets to join this club of forgotten greats I'm sure is of no consolation, the Coen brothers have a list of films that gain little accolade from The Academy. Their only production to get best picture has been No Country For Old Men in 2008 with only Fargo 11 years prior, being recognised at all (that being for the screen play).
The only reason for not getting the best film Oscar should be that there was a better film made that year, and this year was a bumper year for contenders. So should True Grit have won? Was it the best film of the year? Well... I'm not the right man to ask, there are people out there who are much more qualified than me to make such decisions. What I can say though is that True Grit is brilliant, the Joel and Ethan hit the mark again with some fantastic cinema. What I like most about these siblings is that although they have their regular traits in film making, for example they try to have no heroes in their films, they make decisions with what's best for the film in mind rather than what's best for the "Coen" franchise.
The most surprising thing that I found about the film was the duration, at 110 minutes it is by no means short, but it does feel like it. It seems to end abruptly. We have only just met Tom Chaney played by Josh Brolin, his character hasn't had chance to develop, although maybe that can be forgiven as what he means to other characters is significantly more important than the character himself. Matt Damon's character (LaBoeuf) too is a bit of a mystery, we seem to have only scratched through a proud, misunderstood veneer when we say our last goodbye. Here too I find myself leaping to the defence of the directors; it is not always a mistake to leave the audience wanting more, LaBoeuf's last moments on screen are pivotal in defining his character, so when better to bid farewell.
Second most surprising thing about the film, even after the whole world harping on about it for weeks... Hailee Steinfeld's performance. Just amazing, why she wasn't nominated for best actress I have no idea, she nailed it, the film could not be without her. She was supposedly a "supporting actress", yet she appeared in near every scene and talks a damn sight more than anyone else too. The support, I would say, comes from a near indecipherable Jeff Bridges. I love drunks on film, and not since Blazing Saddles has one made me smile so much. The genius behind Bridges' drunken Cogburn is that as much as he often seems to be overdoing it, the story requires it to oppose Damon's straight laced honorability. Bridges plays some great roles, and to go from Tron, playing an almost Buddhist zen character, a god like creator, to the best, most sadistic drunk I've seen for some time shows what could only be described as, well... true grit.
I very, very much enjoyed this film, I wanted more.
8/10 by a whisker, just too short.