THE RUNDOWN: The Coen brothers take on the wild west with yet-another (the other being the John Wayne classic) adaptation of Charles Portis’ famous novel. Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) may be only 14, but she’s got a load of gumption. When her dad is randomly murdered by a man named Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), she decides to take matters into her non-gun-shy hands and find a way to kill the killer. Her plan? Track down a U.S. Marshall with the cutthroat courage to take on her and her case. She ends up finding two: a Chaney-obsessed and slightly inappropriate Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon, not Shia) and Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a local one-eyed drunkard with you guessed it, “true grit.”
WHY IT’S GOLDEN: Hailee Steinfeld. Also, a fitting, strong cast as a whole, beautiful cinematography and thoughtful dialogue, not to mention 10 noms says a whole lot. But above it all, Steinfeld makes this film worth so much more. While Mattie Ross seeks Rooster Cogburn out for his true grit, it’s her who really has it: strong-willed, gutsy and defiant, played very powerfully and fittingly over-the-top by Steinfeld. As a supporting tag-along, it seemed all too easy for the character to fade into the sidelines, but Steinfeld brings her to centre stage with her commitment and charm. – Michelle
WHY IT’S NOT: If you’re a fan of traditional, slow-as-molasses-til-the-last-minute westerns, True Grit will feel like a gulp of whiskey after realizing your old friend isn’t dead after all. But if you’re like me and when it comes to cowboys you only really go for Brokeback, you’ll find it as dry as hay. The story is pretty compelling in theory but it takes so long to get going, it’s easy to lose interest. And when the climax finally comes, it’s plays out like a one-man shoot out. It doesn’t help that aside from Steinfeld, who whips out her Coens-coined script like an old pro, the acting is just okay. Damon and his blonde ‘burns seem highly out of place. As for the Dude? He’s no Duke. – Emily
THE FINAL VERDICT: Although Steinfeld helps a very good film on its way to a brilliant film, it’s not enough to pull it to a win. And against Melissa Leo for best supporting actress, she may not even be able to there.
Check out Michelle’s original review here! Tomorrow, we take on Black Swan!