• For their fifteen film the Coen brothers chose to adapt the work of Charles Portis (author of True Grit) in their first outright western (certainly No Country For Old Men is a western in many ways). It is also a remake of the successful 1969 Henry Hathaway John Wayne vehicle (in his Oscar-winning role). Both films are very worthy of study.
  • The opening shot of the 2010 Coen’s brother film is one of the greatest single shots in the brothers’ oeuvre. This is their 10th collaboration with the masterful Roger Deakins (it is one of his best single shots too for that matter) and the light at the end of the tunnel shot here with Mattie Ross’ Papa dead on the front porch is staggering. Deakins is coming off of 2007’s The Assassination of Jesse James and the opening shot here in True Grit would be at home in that 2007 masterpiece. The shot is accompanied by the voice-over work of the older Mattie Ross (Elizabeth Marvel). It is a very strong one-minute opening.

The opening shot of the 2010 Coen’s brother film is one of the greatest single shots in the brothers’ oeuvre

  • The very next shot is the reflection on the window of the train as the story goes to a flashback
  • You can see what intrigued the Coen brothers about the source material. They love the colloquial vernacular. “I admire your sand”. The wordplay and dialogue throughout is an absolute pleasure.

Jeff Bridges’ Rooster Cogburn is heard in the “jake” prior, but the first time you see him is in the courthouse at the 15-minute mark. The composition and lighting are immaculate.

It is fascinating to see Bridges transformation over the years. He’s coming off an Oscar win in 2009 for Crazy Heart (nominations in back to back years including for this in 2010). He was so pretty in the 1970’s- though he always eschewed his good looks – always opting for interesting roles (this is nearly forty years after The Last Picture Show). This is half John Wayne and half John Heard in Cutter’s Way (which co-starred Bridges of course). The entire cast equips themselves so well here- though I may opt for Hailee Steinfeld as the “headstrong” Mattie Ross actually, if forced to pick the best single performance of the film.

Another special composition at the 47-minute mark with the hanging in the forest of bare, tall trees

  • 10 Oscar nominations in total, and I believe it is the biggest financial success of the Coen brothers’ career

Sublime fever dream midnight shot during the climactic night ride scene

The epilogue (bringing the older Mattie back for a voice-over) is also filled with some of the best shots of 2010—the gravestone on the hill

…the final shot

  • Highly Recommend/Must-See border