Why TRUE GRIT Deserves Major Award Nominations

The producers of TRUE GRIT are hoping to garner some award considerations for the great new big screen adaptation of the 1968 Charles Portis novel. Indeed, the buzz is that the producers of SOCIAL NETWORK are in fear that this may make a late run at Oscar consideration and virtually shut out their film. However, TRUE GRIT is far superior to the catalogic SOCIAL NETWORK, which I found factually interesting, but not overly appealing as a film. The new 2010 version of TRUE GRIT is a far superior film overall by any standard of measurement against SOCIAL NETWORK. TRUE GRIT is more than worthy of major award nominations, including best picture, best actor and best actress, whereas SOCIAL NETWORK is not.

TRUE GRIT has excellent acting by both Jeff Bridges and young actress Hailee Steinfeld. Both more than deserve best actor nominations. Jeff Bridges has reinvented the U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn role as his own great characterization. The alcoholic washed-up-has-been gunslinger Marshal pulls together the best of what he has left to prove to be a loyal and devoted honorable, but flawed hero. He proves himself to be the far moral superior to Texas Ranger LaBouef(Matt Damon) who seems to quickly use his position of authority in an abusive and unsettling way against the young Mattie Ross character. From their very first meeting, LaBouef seemed inclined toward wanting some inappropriate actions toward the Young Mattie Ross, wanting either to kiss her or administer some discipline to the stubborn and determined Ross. In fact, it was Cogburn who quickly put a stop to this sort of conduct by LaBoeuf a little later in the story, when he was disgusted by LaBouef abusing his authority against the young girl by giving her some harsh punishment by a riverbed for following along with the pair of trackers . Cogburn made it clear that he was perfectly willing to shoot LaBouef if this sort of inappropriate conduct continued. Inside, Cogburn was actually a deeply moral and decent man, despite his tough alcoholic exterior. He was a selfless servant of young Mattie Ross, while LaBouef simply wasn’t as trustworthy a man as you would expect, but someone who would abuse his badge or position of authority if the opportunity only knocked. It quickly became clear who was the moral superior of the two.

More of the character of Cogburn was clear when he went on that desperate ride to get medical help for the young girl after a snakebite, and after the horse collapsed, ran with the young girl for what seemed like miles. The Coen brothers have recreated TRUE GRIT in 2010 as a masterwork of a Western. Both the film and the actors deserve major award nominations here. This is one of the great Westerns.

Jeff Bridges’ acting as the latest incarnation of “Rooster” Cogburn is certainly as great as the performance of John Wayne that won him the best actor award at the Oscars in 1969. If John Wayne won for this role, Jeff Bridges deserves the same honor. This is Jeff Bridges at his very best here, capturing a great character that is wholly unrecognizable from other many other film roles he has portrayed.

Of course, TRUE GRIT is all about the story of young 14 year old Mattie Ross and her mission to capture for trial and ultimate hanging the drifter farmhand, Tom Chaney, who killed her father. And young actress, Hailee Steinfeld, is really the big star here where the story is all about her determined search for justice. Hailee Steinfeld is just plain excellent in this role. She’s a fantastic young actress with a very promising career ahead. Her performance is far superior to that of Kim Darby in the 1969 film.

Part of what continues to make TRUE GRIT such a great western story is that it is so inspirational to young viewers. Mattie Ross is a real inspirational character. And young Hailee Steinfeld plays the character with such strength, intelligence and wisdom beyond her years, her only moment of weakness being when she is reduced to a crying little girl by LaBouef’s abusive discipline by the riverbed. If LaBouef was attempting to knock this stubborn young girl down a peg, then he only temporarily succeeded. But, Cogburn sure didn’t like this at all. The three were a team in his view and needed to be at their best game, and the frictions between LaBouef and Ross needed to stop if the three were to succeed in tracking down and capturing Tom Chaney. The three would face many perils in the frontier. Afterall, Ross was his boss, and Cogburn was nothing but the loyal employee.

The gratefulness of Mattie Ross to “Rooster” Cogburn was brought to a dramatic climax by the end of the film. What strong emotions this evoked.

The character of Mattie Ross is a tough, intelligent and very determined girl. And the grown up Mattie Ross narrates her life story here, where she ends up sadly losing an arm to a snakebite. Each retelling of TRUE GRIT takes some liberties or embellishes the original Charles Portis novel. But, the new Coen brothers film has made the story even more “gritty” and tougher than the 1969 film version. It’s an excellent retelling of the story by the reclusive author of the novel. Charles Portis is seldom seen in public, but has to love this new version of his classic story. The Coen brothers certainly did justice here to this great novel.

My appeal is for those who make Oscar nominations and other award nominations to nominate TRUE GRIT for best picture, best actor and best actress considerations. And for other upcoming awards, please nominate this film and actors. Good westerns don’t come much better than this. TRUE GRIT is a very good film. One of the best of 2010.

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