Thursday, June 21, 2018

True West Best of the West 2018 Western Movies

The one notable theme that has emerged from this year’s short list of Westerns is the tale of the aging tough guy or, less sentimentally, the “Geezer Redemption Story.” The aging screen cowboy is not a new phenomenon. Yet for years, he was treated with far too little dignity. Many of the bit players in the 1930s and 1940s B-Westerns had been stars during the silent days. This dishearteningly common trend continued during the 1950s, when fans saw childhood heroes, including Bob Steele and Tom Tyler, play uncredited henchmen and stagecoach drivers. Of course, these roles allowed sentimental filmmakers to throw a little money their way; but when recognized in the bit part, the faded star felt humiliated in front of his fans. Then came Sam Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country (Warner Archive), in 1962, where 60ish stars Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott, at the end of their careers, not only carried the picture handsomely, but also established the underlying theme of all such movies: a character sets out to make things right before he dies, often with a willingness to die to accomplish this feat. The appeal to an older actor is irresistible, offering a chance to play a part that values age and experience, instead of a throwaway role. For mature movie audiences, these films offered a cast with familiarity and shared—if imagined—experience, and the vicarious thrill of not feeling marginalized themselves...


Best Western Movie 

Wind River 

Taylor Sheridan, who wrote Hell or High Water, which won True West’s award for best Western movie last year, wrote and directed this year’s Wind River (Weinstein Company). When a particularly brutal rape-murder is discovered in the snowy recesses of the “rez,” urban FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) joins forces with tracker and predator-hunter Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner). Grim, but with brains and heart, the film features a fine cast of indigenous actors, including Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal and Gil Birmingham.

Best TV Western

The Son 

 Philipp Meyer’s bestselling novel about the building of a Texas ranching and oil dynasty, seen through the eyes of patriarch Eli McCullough (Jacob Lofland as a boy and Pierce Brosnan as a man), first as a captive, then as a titan, is by turns a beautiful postcard and a visceral assault on the viewer. Wonderfully written, directed and performed, this AMC series is the most original TV Western since Lonesome Dove. Season Two is in the works!

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