Honor roll: Western films

Each of these Western films has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Film:Unforgiven

Unforgiven

Clint Eastwood

Winner of four Academy Awards, including best picture, director, supporting actor, and best editing, Clint Eastwood’s 1992 masterpiece stands as one of the greatest and most thematically compelling Westerns ever made. “The movie summarized everything I feel about the Western,” said Eastwood at the time of the film’s release. “The moral is the concern with gunplay.” To illustrate that theme, Eastwood stars as a retired, once-ruthless killer-turned-gentle-widower and hog farmer. He accepts one last bounty-hunter mission—to find the men who brutalized a…

Film:Dances with Wolves

Dances with Wolves

Kevin Costner

Kevin Costner’s 1990 epic won a bundle of Oscars for a moving, engrossing story of a white soldier (Costner) who singlehandedly mans a post in the 1870 Dakotas, and becomes a part of the Lakota Sioux community who live nearby. The film may not be a masterpiece, but it is far more than the sum of good intentions. The characters are strong, the development of relationships is both ambitious and careful, the love story between Costner and Mary McDonnell’s character is captivating. Only the third-act portrait of white intruders as morons feels overbearing, but even…

Film:The Mask of Zorro

The Mask of Zorro

Martin Campbell

In this day of movies in which one can’t tell whether the action was manufactured by computer generation or by a cookie cutter, The Mask of Zorro is a grand throwback. It recalls and celebrates the fantasy workshop that Hollywood was and can be at its best. It’s an audience pleaser in the best sense of the word, combining great-looking performers with gorgeous vistas and production design, a story that is familiar yet never insults the viewer’s intelligence, and plenty of eye-popping action.

Anthony Hopkins stars as the original Zorro, a masked…

Film:Back to the Future: Part 3 of trilogy

Back to the Future: Part 3 of trilogy

Robert Zemeckis

Shot back-to-back with Back to the Future II, this final chapter in the series is less hectic than that film and has the same sweet spirit of the first, albeit in a whole new setting. This time, Michael J. Fox’s character ends up in the Old West of 1885, trying to prevent the death of mad scientist Christopher Lloyd at the hands of a gunman. Director Robert Zemeckis successfully blends exciting special effects with the traditions of a Western, and comes up with something original and fun. —Tom Keogh

Film:Legends of the Fall

Legends of the Fall

Edward Zwick

A box-office hit when released in 1994, this sprawling, frequently overwrought familial melodrama may get sillier as its plot progresses, but it’s the kind of lusty, character-based epic that Hollywood should attempt more often. It’s also an unabashedly flattering star vehicle for Brad Pitt as Tristan—the rebellious middle son of a fiercely independent Montana rancher and military veteran (Anthony Hopkins)—who is routinely at odds with his more responsible older brother, Alfred (Aidan Quinn), and younger brother, Samuel (Henry Thomas). From the battlefields of…

Film:City Slickers

City Slickers

Ron Underwood

Three middle-age buddies (Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby) facing personal crises decide to sign up for a two-week cattle run for a change of pace. The trail proves a tougher place than anyone thought, and the boss (Jack Palance) is a grizzled taskmaster who doesn’t cotton to tenderfoot urbanites. Popular in theaters, the film is both funny and moving, with Crystal giving one of his most complete performances and Palance (who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar) a lot of colorful fun. Director Ron Underwood (Heart and Souls) subtly shifts the tone…

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