A trip through the westerns that took gold in the most glamorous night in cinema
While science fiction, fantasy and horror films fight to find their place in the sun at the Oscars, although not always on center stage, there is a genre that has managed to leave its mark on one of the most prestigious awards in cinema. Westerners. While many may argue that the Oscars aren’t everything, there’s something undeniably special about this recognition, especially when it comes to stories about cowboys, outlaws and justice in the Old West era.
Between sunset duds and no-man’s-land races, the genre has had its moments of glory at the awards show, as voters increasingly like to fish in narratives that explore justice, honor and wasteland. But what were the films that managed to take the coveted trophy, not just Western content?
From ‘Cimarron’ (1931), through the majesty of ‘How the West Was Won’ (1962), to works like ‘No Country for Old Men’ (2007), these films have not only redefined the genre but have been recognized for their artistic merit. Each of them brought a unique vision to the genre in their own way, from awards for original screenplay to technical achievements such as the best sound editing and cinematography.
‘Cimarron’ and the dawn of Oscar
Let’s start with ‘Cimarron’, a relatively obscure gem that surprised by becoming the fourth best picture winner in Oscar history. The story, set in the late 1800s, may not be the most interesting to modern audiences, but it has captured the imaginations of many, despite competition from such masterpieces as Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights in 1931.
La epopeya familiar de ‘How the West Won’
In the year Fast forward to 1962, and we find the film ‘How the West Was Won’ more than a narrative, technical follow-up of several generations through the challenges and triumphs of the American West. Even today, with an amazing stellar cast and cinematography, this movie proved that it can be a blockbuster like no other.
‘Treasures of the Sierra Madre’ and turning to darkness
And what about ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ (1948), a film that took home three Oscars, including Best Director, despite not winning Best Picture. With one of Humphrey Bogart’s most memorable performances, this masterpiece plunges us into a dark and tense narrative.
Modernism and Criticism: ‘No Country for the Old’.
In the 21st century, ‘No Country for Old Men’ brings new life to the genre and tells a dark and unsettling story, mixing westerns with thrillers. Winner of four Oscars, this film showed that the neo-noir side had a place at the table of the greats.
‘Unforgiven’: Clint Eastwood Reinventing the Western
‘Unstolen’ (1992) marks a before and after in the genre, offering a critical vision that undermines the image of the traditional hero. With four Oscars under his belt, this film not only elevated Eastwood to legendary status, but also redefined what a Western could be.
The legacy of ‘Dances with Wolves’
Finally, ‘Dances with Wolves’ (1990), with seven Oscars, is not only a Western story, but a cinematographic achievement that defies genres and categories. The story of a centurion who finds friendship and understanding among the Lakota people, this film is reminiscent of cinema’s ability to bridge worlds and perspectives.
These films are just one example of the Western’s enduring influence on cinema and its recognition at the Oscars. His tales of heroism, conflict and exploration continue to be the canvas of Western artistic expression, revealing that at the heart of these frontier tales lie universal truths that resonate across generations.