True Grit – Review

Some reviews will focus on comparisons with the original True Grit, some will even look back at the novel both draw their plot from. A third type of review won’t mention either, having not read or watched the preceding incarnations. Guess which of the three this review is.

Taking True Grit as a standalone feature without any remake rumblings or Coen brothers expectations, it is a good film. Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges make the most of their character actor chops to bring two truly western roles to gloriously, over the top, fruition. The only possible downside being the thick accents occasionally get almost too thick to understand.

By now you’ll know that the show is stolen completely by relative newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who is clearly the lead despite what any Oscar nominations might suggest. Speaking of the Oscars; her pitch perfect and incredibly grown up performance as the young upstart looking to avenge her father’s murder is easily worth a golden statue next weekend. There’s humour and heart aplenty in young Steinfeld’s performance.

As a whole the film is fun, beautiful and feels surprisingly short for it’s 110 minutes. There’s no big twist, just a story told well by skilled writers, directors and performers. Towards the end some jarringly cheap looking shots slightly marr the emotional climax, completely out of place in an otherwise carefully shot picture.

As Coen brothers films go this is far from the best. Everything in it is good but the whole feels slightly lacking. I can’t say what it is lacking, I just know that as the credits appeared I felt True Grit needed something more to take it from good to great. You still are required to go and see it in the cinema and Hailee Steinfeld is still going to be a star one day, but No Country For Old Men was better.

Out Now – 11th February 2011

Today is quite a good day for releases, a mix of quality films, romantic comedies and 3D kids movies. Pick your date movie…. now!

Gnomeo & Juliet
A fully British cast, complete with our own Jason Statham, retell Shakespeare using gnomes. You get the feeling this is little more than a clumsy pun taken too far.

Just Go With It
Jennifer Aniston once made films you wouldn’t be ashamed to have on DVD. Though looking at her filmography, that hasn’t been for nine years now, I doubt this will be a return to form.

Never Let Me Go
A beautiful love story with a bit of a difference, something the trailer has thankfully not revealed. We really liked it, and not least because it features Andrew Garfield.

True Grit
The plot becomes almost irrelevant when the Coens are involved but for the sake of it: “A tough U.S. Marshal helps a stubborn young woman track down her father’s murderer.” The perfect film for Valentines day if your significant other has a taste for quality film and has already seen Never Let Me Go.

Yogi Bear
Someone wants to close Jellystone Park so Yogi, Boo Boo and Ranger Smith team up to ruin our childhoods.

My Kidnapper (limited release)
Documentary in which a kidnappee receives an email from a former kidnapper and goes to meet him. Should be pretty powerful stuff. No joke.

Son Of Babylon (limited release)
“A willful young boy follows his just as obstinate grandmother in a journey across Iraq, determined to discover the fate of her missing son, Ahmed’s father, who never returned from war.”

Two In The Wave (limited release)
The dramatic story of a friendship that shaped French cinema. Can you sense I’m running out of time?

Nominations – The Hits and Misses

Before we had chance to have a proper look at the BAFTA nominations, the Oscars announced their own nominees leaving us in danger of overdoing it with the nomination coverage. In a two for one special let’s take this film by film and see where the two big ceremonies have put most of their nominations. We’ll look at each ceremony nearer the time.

127 Hours – 14 Nominations
Franco, the screenplay, music and editing are all nominated at both ceremonies and could possibly pick up the majority of these awards, though Franco would have to topple King Firth first. While at the Oscars it has a Best picture nomination, at the BAFTAs there is the slightly more specialist Outstanding British Film nomination and Boyle is only nominated for directing at the BAFTAs, benefiting perhaps from the home advantage. A good reception for a film about a man stuck under a rock.

Another Year – 3 Nominations
This beauty has a meagre spattering of nominations from the two institutes. The Oscars are just recognising the screenplay while BAFTA give Lesley Manville a nod for her heart-breaking role. Shame they couldn’t find a bit more room for Another Year in the other categories.

Black Swan – 17 Nominations
Doing particularly well with the BAFTAs this film has nominations for almost all the technical awards, most excitingly for Visual Effects, always good to see something not seen as “effects heavy” getting nominated. Darranofsky and Portman get a nomination at each ceremony as does the film, cinematography and editing. Bonus points again to BAFTA for nominating Barbara Hershey for Best Supporting Actress. Shame no nod for Vincent Cassel.

Blue Valentine – 1 Nomination
More notable here for it’s lack of nominations, receiving just the one for Michelle Williams. Ryan Gosling must be a little hurt, or blue. Lol.

Biutiful – 4 Nominations
A perfect match across the ceremonies with Best Actor and Best Foreign Film nominations in both. Notable for having a lead actor nomination for the first time for a role with no English dialogue.

Exit Through The Gift Shop – 2 Nominations
In this list purely because I saw it at the weekend and though it amazing, and most likely not a hoax. Probably given one nomination for each ceremony in the hope that Banksy will turn up in person.

The Fighter – 8 Nominations
The screenplay and Amy Adams’ supporting role are the only two double nominations, with the Oscars throwing in a nomination for the film in it’s widened category and the BAFTAs nominating our nation’s own Christian Bale.

Inception – 17 Nominations
Thankfully not just getting technical nominations, Inception is also up for Best Film and Screenplay at both ceremonies with just the BAFTAs recognising Nolan’s directorial triumph. Expect plenty of technical wins but nothing for the bigger awards.

The Kids Are All Right – 8 Nominations
One of the least flashy big hitters, hence the lack of technical nominations. Instead there are double nominations for Bening, Ruffalo and the screenplay. The Oscars gives it a chance at Best Film while the BAFTAs gives Moore some deserved recognition. Yes Bening stole the show but Moore was better than Ruffalo, no?

The King’s Speech – 26 Nominations
As if winning one of our awards at the London Film Festival wasn’t enough, this British darling is doing amazingly well, probably for being a “proper” film that is actually enjoyable. Nominated at both awards for everything from acting to sound mixing The King’s Speech is the one to beat. A special note should be made of Rush’s double nominations for supporting actor as he made the film, and the undeserved nominations for Carter who is possibly just being swept up in the film’s tidal wave of praise.

The Social Network – 14 Nominations
My personal favourite of all the nominees has well deserved double nominations for film, direction, screenplay (woo Sorkin!) and Best Actor. Nice to see Jesse Eisenberg nominated, but a shame to see only BAFTA recognising Andrew Garfield’s talents. He needs all the accolades we can give him and this film deserves all it’s nominations. Best Screenplay is a must.

The Town – 2 Nominations
Another film I had expected to do a little better and oddly has different actors being rewarded for their supporting roles in the different events. Perhaps this could be an opportunity for BAFTA to give Pete Postlethwaite a farewell trophy.

Toy Story 3 – 8 Nominations
Pixar continue to break out of the technical categories and get double nods for Best Film, Best Animated Film and Best Screenplay. On a related note Day & Night absolutely has to win best animated short for being the most ingenious thing Pixar have ever done. Ever.

True Grit – 18 Nominations
The Coen Brothers always do well but the alarming lack of respect from the Golden Globes looked set to change that. No worries now that they have been showered with nominations, though Hailee Steinfeld has been relegated to supporting actress by the Oscars while the BAFTAs recognise her leading role status. Hard to say without having seen it but it’s probably awesome.

Waste Land – 1 Nomination
Another Mild Concern favourite getting the attention it deserves, carry on.

Winter’s Bone – 4 Nominations
This dark tale we haven’t seen went by the BAFTA radar but garnered Oscar nominations for acting, film and screenplay. Kudos!