Having expressed my overall enthusiasm for this year's Oscar crop, I now have to deal with something of a disappointment.
It's not that I find anything especially wrong with this new version of True Grit. It's immaculately crafted, with stong dialogue and generally solid, occasionally striking visuals. But much of it left me fairly cold. I really liked the whole set-up sequence -- which felt alot more elaborate than my memory of the '69 film -- but, once our characters crossed the river, it turned into a series of not all that interesting vignettes knit around a pretty thin story. Part of my problem may be the misgiving I expressed here a while back -- simple familiarity with (if only hazy memory of) the story. But I think it goes deeper: I found myself wondering just why this story needed to be told, let alone told twice. It doesn't seem to have any deeper resonance than a simple yarn. So, while I can admire the details and craft, I don't have any attachment to it.
As for comparing it to the earlier film -- my recollection of it is as something pretty minor except for the attention-getting legendary performance. I imagine Charles Portis would be more pleased with this version, as it feels more dedicated and serious, rather than the verging-on-spoof the Hathaway film was. But I wonder which approach really works better. Given how flimsy (for me) the content is, I might appreciate it better as light-hearted entertainment than as grim Old West determinism.
The primary reason to see this version is for the Steinfeld performance. She's clearly the central focus of the film, and a quantum improvement over the early version (Magilla, I don't know where your Darby nostalgia comes from, but I'd recommened storing it somewhere with Katharine Houghton memories). It's she who makes those early sequences so promising, and even keeps the rest of the film afloat, if on a lesser level. If she's competing for an Oscar, it'd disgraceful for it to be anywhere but under best actress. She's far more deserving than Jeff Bridges who, though he makes a fine effort, mutters too damn much, and, for me, almost recedes into the background -- which is a shock considering how Wayne took command of the screen.
I can't say a best picture nomination would disturb me horribly -- it's good enough for a field of 10. But for it to take one of the more precious directing slots, let alone (as David Poland is quixotically promoting) to become the best picture front-runner, would be to deny more deserving efforts recognition.
Edited By Mister Tee on 1293840081