Mattie Ross is just the best heroine ever. She is a 14 year old girl in a world of grizzled, hard-bitten outlaws and lawmen, but she more than holds her own. She is smart as a whip, brave and determined; she gives as good as she gets, and nothing deters her. She wants to see her father avenged, and she won't rest until she makes it happen, and on her own terms. Even with the blood and guts, I would much rather my girls saw Mattie Ross negotiating terms with a horse trader, shooting at bad guys and cutting a corpse from a tree, than some wilting school girl swooning over her undead lover.
Mattie is not just a great role model for teenage girls. She is a great role model for all women! I wish Hailee Steinfeld could win Best Actress at the Oscars. She isn't "supporting" anyone -- the whole film is her!* Go Hailee! Yay for Mattie Ross!
* Edit: the award went to Melissa Leo. Oh well. So Jacki Weaver missed out too. But hooray for Shaun Tan and The Lost Thing!!!