25 Best Coen Brother Characters

From Barton Fink to the Dude, counting down Joel and Ethan's craziest, most unforgettable creations

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6. Mattie Ross ('True Grit')

Fans of the original True Grit remember Kim Darby's pixie-cut version of this Western's heroine, all wide eyes and too-big-for-her-britches precociousness. But when the Coen brothers decided to bring Charles Portis' novel to the screen for a second go-round, they upped the steely reserve of the book's narrator, Mattie Ross — and cast a young actress who could portray the character's determination with both a sense of backbone and a bone-deep vulnerability. Hailee Steinfeld's performance rightfully nabbed her an Oscar nomination and kickstarted a career that's now gone from pop songs to a Pitch Perfect movie, but Ross remains the perfect introduce-yourself vehicle for her: A headstrong young lady who doesn't take any guff from no one-eyed gunfighter rascals yet still understands the responsibility that comes with pulling a trigger. She's one of the best of the Coens' strong female characters — you could believe that she's the great, great grandmother of either Ed McDonagh or Marge Gunderson. DF

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