Thursday, 17 February 2011

I Do Not Know This (Little Golden) Man.

Ah, The Coen Brothers. Very love them or hate them when it comes to directors. Some may dislike their anti-climactic endings but their latest film is sure to satisfy even those haters. Yup, this movie has True Grit... And ten Oscar nominations.

Okay, moving on from cheesy references to the movies title, what's it about? Well Mattie Ross's (Hailee Steinfeld) father is murdered by notorious criminal, Tom Chaney. (Josh Brolin) In search of revenge and to bring Chaney to justice, Mattie hires U.S. marshal, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) but only after she turns away Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) because he wanted to take Chaney back to Texas for killing a U.S Senator. Rooster and LaBoeuf make a team and leave Mattie behind to continue the manhunt alone but she soon catches up. Travelling miles of the wild west and encountering gangs and snakes, the group fall out and make up several times but won't stop until they find Chaney.
Have you ever gone to a movie and not known what to expect? Despite Empire's 5 star review and it's Oscar nomination, I had no idea what I was going to get. The Coen Brothers have done it again. They proved they can handle the concept of a Western with No Country For Old Men but True Grit is a modern masterpiece in the genre. A pure western which is something we don't see much nowadays. There isn't a single flaw in the casting. I stand by my opinion that The Coens put more effort into casting every role than any other movie maker. My reason being, even the smallest characters in their movies are perfect. (The shop owner in No Country For Old Men, the horse trader in True Grit)

"Aye aye love"

"Actually, you only have one"

Let's start with the Oscar nominated performances. Jeff Bridges is up for Best Actor again, two years running. He certainly deserves it though. As the drunken, mumbling and merciless marshal, he really shines. He also provides most of the funniest moments. Oh, did I not mention that the film is HILARIOUS? The Coen Brothers' humor just runs throughout the movie. Does kicking immigrants off fences amuse anyone else or is it just me? Bridges is also very quotable. You'll leave the movie saying, "I do not know this man," or, "That didn't pan out." Sounds plain, but see the movie and you'll understand. Should he win the Oscar? If there weren't such strong performances in the category already then I'd say he does. I think he is definitely a strong contender. Winning last year may hurt his chances though... Perhaps someone who hasn't won should have a chance.
This year, age has been no boundary for Oscar nominations. With Bridges at 61 and his nominated co-star, Hailee Steinfeld, who is only 14, True Grit manages to cover the whole age range of the nominees. And boy do they cover it well. Despite being nominated as a supporting actress, Steinfeld is definitely a leading actress; she was put in supporting as it offered her a better chance at winning. She really deserveds the nod. She essentially holds the film. She's quick, witty, brave and mature but she remembers how young her character is and throws in sensitivity, nerves and fear. Definitely one of the best child performances to ever grace the cinema screen. Should she win the Oscar? She should. But she won't. I would love for her to win. She deserves it completely. Unfortunately, there are a few factors in her way. Mainly her age. Children don't win Oscars. Not in such a strong year... Not when you're against big shots like Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter and even Melissa Leo. Also, it's her first feature film. Winning on your first feature is very unlikely. Finally, she wasn't a supporting actor. The voters may not like the manipulation of the categories so that she has a better chance.
The film is full of great performances. Some (including me) may say that Matt Damon was snubbed and that he should have got a nod for Best Supporting Actor. Unfortunately, the Academy can't nominate everyone and so we'll have to honor Damon's performance with our memories. His turn as Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf, is funny and dramatic. He goes from fool to hero and back to fool throughout the movie and his character is all the richer for it.
Finally, Josh Brolin. He may not be on screen for very long but in the time that he is, he's captivating. The slightly psychotic criminal known as Tom Chaney, comes to life through Brolin's performance. Perhaps with a bigger part, he may have been nominated for his second Coen Brothers film related Oscar.

Hailee's reaction when she discovered she'd only been nominated for Supporting Actress.

The Big Lebowski. No Country For Old Men. A Serious Man. O Brother, Where Art Thou? Fargo. All brilliant films. Why? Their directors. The Coen Brothers. I've already mentioned how many people dislike them. Personally, I don't see why. They produce masterpiece after masterpiece. I mean, who doesn't like The Big Lebowski? These siblings are so talented. Not only do they direct their movies, the write most of them. All over True Grit is their humour and their subtle touches and it is that that makes it a great movie. However, they've won the Oscar before and therefore are less likely to get it again. Let another masterpiece producer have it. David Fincher anyone?

The cinematography is excellent. Certainly worthy of an Oscar. Prepare to fight with Inception though. The score fits the atmosphere of the action perfectly. Now, readers, a warning. I'm about to embark on a rant about generic things I loved about this movie. Ready? Here I go: The combination of action, comedy and touching moments is so wonderful and so rarely seen nowadays. Speaking of the action, few movies manage to take a historical context such as the wild west and make the fights so exciting. Or make the plot so gripping. Despite long montages of horses travelling across desolate plains, I was still often on the edge of my seat wanting to scream at the screen. Plus I like the locations of westerns. Those infinite landscapes are simply stunning. Okay. Rant over.

Just go and see it.

Best bit? Oh there's so many. I really can't say. Let's just say the best bits made me either want to laugh, cry or shout at the screen. Not many films achieve all three.

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