It would be hard to list my favorite movies in any kind of chronological order. There are just movies that stay with me forever and I can watch them over and over and still enjoy the power it has over me.
I would say that this movie, Unforgiven, is in my top ten of all time. I would even venture to put it in my top five. I absolutely love this movie and we were able to watch it again over the Christmas break.
Unforgiven is a story about women prostitutes seeking vengeance against two men who cut up the face of 'one of their own'. A young want-a-be gunslinger seeks out William Munny, one of the baddest, meanest, cruelest bandit ever, to help him receive a reward - from the prostitutes - for the killing of these two men. Munny is a reformed man, a recent widower, tending to a farm and his two young kids. He reluctantly decides the reward is worth it and follows the young gunslinger out to hunt down their bounty.
The cruelty of this mission is played out well. I love how they depict one of the men as remorseful and watching his death is quite sad. But the movie shows that a deal is a deal, money is money, and there is a savageness to killing a man.
Then there is a twist and Munny is hell bent on vengeance after his good friend Ned Logan is beaten to death, then displayed for all the town to see by Sheriff Little Bill. The moment Munny is told of this is one of my favorite scenes in this movie: you can see the change in the man...and the old cruel bandit comes back into his eyes as he swigs the whiskey down.
Vengeance movies are great. It's always great to see the "good" guy win in the end.
The stars of this movie are Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman. Hackman plays Little Bill so amazing that you just HATE and DESPISE him. Every time I watch this and see him at first appearance, I am just filled with disgust and still cheer when he finally finds himself in a gun battle with Munny.
Clint, however, is the man of the hour, well, for two hours. Playing a man who becomes good, after being so vile is magical. The first few scenes, where he plays Munny as a bumbling idiot who can't get on a horse is comical but once he becomes a man seeking out his own justice, well, he deserved the Oscar that he was nominated for in the Best Actor category.
The movie won four Academy Awards: Hackman for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Eastwood himself for Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Picture for 1993.
It is also #17 on the International Cinephile Society's Top 100 Films of the 1990s, the movie challenge I have taken on but more actively, I hope, this year.