I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Unforgiven, 1992





Rated R

No other name, aside from John Wayne’s, is associated with Westerns like Clint Eastwood’s is. And before this, I had never seen an Eastwood Western. He starred in a few “spaghetti westerns” in the ‘60s and since I had no idea what that term meant, I looked it up: a western made cheaply in Europe by an Italian director (or a Spanish director when referring to “paella westerns”). This was the third Western to win Best Picture, following the second just two years earlier: “Dances with Wolves”, and the first from way back in 1931.

The story takes place in the 1880s in the town of Big Whiskey, Wyoming. One night, two men come into a brothel seeking some nighttime pleasure. One of them, irritated that the prostitute laughed at his “size”, slashed her face a few times with her knife (it’s not graphic). Obviously, the rest of the whores get pissed and secretly put out a reward for whoever kills those two men after the corrupt sheriff (Gene Hackman) of the town refuses to do anything but require a few horses from them. Will Munny (Eastwood) gets wind of this reward, and even though he’s a retired and repentant gunfighter who’s sworn off a life of violence since meeting his (now-deceased) wife, decides to go after these women-beaters. He enlists the help of his pal Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) and they join forces with a guy who’s practically a kid. They creatively call their third wheel, “Kid” and we soon discover he talks a big game. So those three are after the abusive men and the crooked sheriff and other men of the town are after the three of them (for attempting to take the law into their own hands).

There are some thought-provoking themes running throughout the film: justice vs. the untamed West, feminism vs. masculinity, repentance vs. revenge, honor vs. pride. I’m not sure why it’s titled “Unforgiven” though. Does Munny consider himself unforgiven for the way he acted before he reformed? Is the woman-beater still unforgiven even though he paid his debt in horses? Regardless, after hearing from the special features that the original title was “The Cut-Whore Killings” (no joke), I’m glad it was changed.

Can you believe that before this film, Eastwood hadn’t even been nominated for an Oscar before? To be honest, I wasn’t very impressed with Eastwood’s work in this film… I preferred his acting performances in “Million Dollar Baby” and “Gran Torino”. But I will admit, the guy’s voice is fantastic. There’s just something about its timbre that makes you listen.

The competition for the film included “The Crying Game”, “Howards End”, “A Few Good Men”, and “Scent of a Woman”. I have only seen the last nominee and think that definitely should have won over “Unforgiven”. Al Pacino is nothing short of magnificent in that film (and beat Eastwood for the Best Actor award). Chris O’Donnell’s not too shabby either. I recommend THAT one to watch from this year. I know that “A Few Good Men” is also very popular, but I haven’t seen it, so I can’t compare. Another popular film this year was “My Cousin Vinny” for which Marisa Tomei won the Best Supporting Actress award. I also thought “The Last of the Mohicans” was a good film.

FAVORITE SCENE:

The end scene was by far the most climactic- a gun-slingin’ bar fight.

LESSONS LEARNED:

Just ‘cause they’re down doesn’t mean they’re dead. Don’t get cocky.

Keeping you’re cool can be more important in a fight than your aim. If you’re hurrying and flustered, you’re more likely to miss.

Sometimes you’re not as brave as you think you are until the situation arises, so don’t talk a big game.

Have a plan B when your life’s on the line.

Camaraderie is respected.

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