January 5, 2011
America still loves Westerns
One last thing about True Grit then I'll shut up about it. It turns out that it's kind of a big hit: it's still #2 at the box office after being out for 2 weeks, and it looks like it's going to make more money than The Social Network, which had previously been this year's big indie-ish hit.
It's also the biggest hit yet for the Coen brothers, already doing better than their previous top-selling movie No Country For Old Men, and that one, arguably also a Western, won Best Picture. We might not necessarily think of the Coens as guys who make Westerns, but judging by the movies that the most people want to see, apparently they are. Another universally loved movie of theirs, at least on video, is Raising Arizona, which has a lot of classic Western elements too (desert setting, highway showdown, bank robbery, warthog from hell, etc.)
The difference with True Grit is how straight they tell the story: it's not ironic at all, and the characters all speak in that wonderful formal, heightened language with no winking. It's an uncomplicated, funny Western. Asked why this one has done so well with mainstream audiences after 15 movies, Ethan Coen suggested, "We just outwaited everybody."
The Academy has been pretty obvious in its recent attempts to make the Oscars more accessible and popular to mainstream audiences, so the surprise success of True Grit just about guarantees that it's going to pop up on nominations lists, sort of like a more deserving The Blind Side.
TrackBack URL for this entry: