By CBS News.com producer David Morgan
The film opens on the body of a man shot to death outside a boarding house in post-Civil War Fort Smith, Ark. "People do not give it credence that a young girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father's blood, but it did happen," says the narrator - a woman of clear-eyed determination and saucy spirit who does not suffer fools or dandies. And she knows it: "If Papa had a failing it was his kindly disposition; I did not get my mean streak from him."
MATTIE: "You misjudge me if you think I am silly enough to give you fifty dollars and simply watch you ride off."
COGBURN: "I am a bonded U.S. marshal!"
MATTIE: "That weighs but little with me. I will see the thing done. ..."
COGBURN: "I cannot go up against Ned Pepper and a band of hard men and look after a baby at the same time."
The film is a fond embrace of the conventions of movie western lore, colored by the Coens Brothers' elegant language and craftsmanship. Mattie's tale - in which retribution is sought with the clinical precision of a sales contract - is a parable of America's expansion west, and of the frontier myth recreated through entertainment, whether it's a wild west show or a Hollywood film.
Joel and Ethan CoenSince their debut in 1984 with "Blood Simple," Joel Coen (left) and Ethan Coen have received 14 Academy Award nominations for writing, producing, directing, and (under the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes) editing), including three for "True Grit" - as producers, directors and screenwriters. They won the Oscar for "Fargo" (for Best Original Screenplay), and their 2007 film "No Country for Old Men" won four, including Best Direction and Best Picture. Their other films include "Raising Arizona," "Barton Fink," "Miller's Crossing," "The Man Who Wasn't There" and "O Brother, Where Art Thou." Bridges last worked with the Coen Brothers in "The Big Lebowski," for which his characterization of The Dude is a cult favorite.
Jeff BridgesJeff Bridges won the Oscar for Best Actor playing a hard-drinking country singer trying to restore his career and his dignity in "Crazy Heart" (2009). Previously Bridges had been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for "The Last Picture Show" (1971), "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" (1974), and "The Contender" (2000), and was nominated for Best Actor for playing an alien in "Starman" (1984). Bridges received a Best Actor nomination for "True Grit," in a reinterpretation of the role that won John Wayne HIS Academy Award.
Matt DamonMatt Damon had appeared in small roles in several films, including "Mystic Pizza" (1988), "School Ties" (1992) and "Courage Under Fire (1996), before 1997's "Good Will Hunting" have him a starring role - thanks to the script he and friend Ben Affleck had written. The two shared an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. In 1998 he appeared in the title role of Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan." Other films include "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999); "All the Pretty Horses" (2000); "The Brothers Grimm" (2005); "The Departed" and "The Good Shepherd" (2006); "Green Zone" and "Hereafter" (2010); and two franchise juggernauts: "Ocean's Eleven" and its sequels, and the "Bourne" espionage thrillers. In addition to a Best Actor nomination for "Good Will Hunting," Damon was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Clint Eastwood's "Invictus" (2009).
Hailee SteinfeldAfter a nationwide search involving 15,000 actresses, the filmmakers found their star in Hailee Steinfeld, who makes her feature-film debut. Thirteen years old at the time of filming, the California native had taken acting lessons and workshops since she was 8, and appeared in the Kelsey Grammer TV series "Back to You." Not only did the young actress learn to shoot, she also did many of her own stunts, including riding a horse through a river and climbing a startlingly tall tree. For her film debut, Steinfled received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress (though many believed she should have been placed in the Lead Actress category).
Josh BrolinJosh Brolin (Tom Chaney) received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Dan White, the murderer of Harvey Milk in 2008's "Milk." The son of actor James Brolin, Josh began young - starring in "The Goonies" and the TV series "The Young Riders." He previously worked with the Coens in "No Country for Old Men," and appeared in two Woody Allen films: "Melinda and Melinda" (2004) and "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" (2010). His other notable films include "In the Valley of Elah" (2007), "American Gangster" (2007), and two for Oliver Stone: "W" (as President George W. Bush), and "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps."
Roger DeakinsMaster cinematographer Roger Deakins received his ninth Academy Award nomination for "True Grit." In the past he has been nominated for four other collaborations with the Coen Brothers: "Fargo," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," "The Man Who Wasn't There" and "No Country for Old Men." His other Oscar nominations include "The Shawshank Redemption," "Kundun," "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," and The Reader."
Production designer: Jess Gonchor
Set Decorator: Nancy Haigh
Damon "Wouldn't Change a Frame" of "True Grit"
Hailee Steinfeld's "True Grit" Debut Hailee Steinfeld: The Star-Struck Star
Matt Damon: The Incognito Celebrity
Review: Coen Brothers Bring Wit, Grit to the Wild West
Photos: Matt Damon
Photos: Jeff Bridges
Photos: Hailee Steinfeld
"True Grit" (Official Movie Website)
"For Your Consideration" (Paramount Website)
"True Grit" - Screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, based on the novel by Charles Portis (Download pdf)