As has been particularly well documented, 2010's True Grit is the second film based on Charles Portis' novel of the same name to hit the big screen (Rooster Cogburn being a sequel and the 1978 TV movie not appearing on the big screen and a "further adventure"). I will be leaving it to others to debate the merits of each of the two films in relation to each other and the portrayals of Cogburn by Jeff Bridges and John Wayne. Rather, this review will be concerning itself solely with the Coen Brothers' film, and its own particular merits as opposed to its merits in comparison to the earlier work.
Joel and Ethan Coen, while they don't always hit the ball out of the park, do imbue a certain style and sensibility to their films, and that is present in True Grit in spades. The film is full of humor, horror, and for lack of a better term, grit. It is a must watch film for any fan of the brothers, the genre, or good movies in general.
As noted, Bridges takes on the role of Rooster Cogburn here, a hard-drinking, hard-fighting US Marshal. Bridges delivers the sort of strong performance we've come to expect from him, truly inhabiting the role and doing a good job making everyone forget that anyone else ever pretended to be Cogburn. Some may complain that there is a smattering of scenery chewing going on, but I think that the boisterousness is Cogburn's character as opposed to Bridges' acting.
The real star of the film for my money though is Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross. Steinfeld, despite her young age, plays Mattie with a sort of brilliant self-confidence that belies both Mattie's age as well as Steinfeld's. However submissions may have been made for awards, make no mistake, Steinfeld is the lead actress in the film and a large reason of why the movie succeeds so well. When she needs to be she is funny, when she needs to be she is scared, and when she needs to be she is tough. Mattie Ross undergoes an incredible amount over the course of the film, but no matter what is happening to her, Steinfeld portrayals it all perfectly.