Those Oscar-Winning Westerns

Since last night was Oscar night, with only Django Unchained representing our favorite genre, I thought I”d sing the praises of the mighty movie western for a bit. But I need your help. While there have been many westerns given an Oscar nomination, did you know only three have actually won Best Picture honors? Can you name them?

Cimarron (1931)

Based on the Edna Ferber book of the same name. It tells the story of the opening of the Oklahoma territory.



Dances With Wolves (1990)

Starring (and directed by) Kevin Costner, this was the first western to actually use Native American actors in Native American roles.




Unforgiven (1992)

Clint Eastwood”s gritty, violent film. Eastwood also won Best Director honors and co-star Gene Hackman received the golden statue for Best Supporting Actor.



Now, I don”t know about you, but none of these make my top-ten list of favorite westerns–although I love the recreation of the Oklahoma land rush in Cimarron. So I searched for Oscar-nominated films and found all those movies I watch

time and time again:


Stagecoach (1939)

The Ox-Box Incident (1943)




She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

True Grit (1969 & 2010)





The Shootist (1976)

3:10 to Yuma




There are many, many more; movies starring Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, Clint Eastwood…far too many to list. And I haven”t even started on the list of musicals like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), Oklahoma (1955), Paint Your Wagon (1969)…

I”ll stop now.

What about you? Is your favorite movie on my list? Was one of last night”s hopefuls a must-see movie? Or do you have a movie that I just have to try, that you know is bound to become another favorite. Western or not, I”m willing to give it a try.

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13 thoughts on “Those Oscar-Winning Westerns”

  1. You did mention one of our all time favorites, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS. Another favorite is INTO THE WEST, but that was a made for TV mini-series. What about THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALE and SHANE. there are so many good Westerns out there and I haven’t seen enough of them.

  2. Hi Tracy, Fun post! “Unforgiven” is horribly dark, but it’s got a ton of great lines and a fascinating story. I can see why it won the Academy Award.

    Ditto to Patricia B’s recommendation of “The Outlaw Josey Wales.” Over the weekend I got hooked on the old TV western “The Virginian.” One of the cable channels was running it. Both version of “True Grit” are favorites around here. So is “Rooster Cogburn.”

  3. Vickie, one article I saw called it an anti-western because there were no “white hats” in the film–no good guys, only bad guys. And Rooster Cogburn has to be one of the best characters ever.

  4. Lonesome Dove, Josey Wales, A lot of Clint Eastwood’s early movies, (most of which were made here, where I live). My mind is not working this early in the AM, or I could name them. In my family, they can recite the dialogue for Josey Wales and my daughter can for Tombstone. There–that’s another one!

  5. Silverado was a good movie to add to your list….but you are right, there are so many…Thombstone was a very good mostly accurate account of what happened there early in its’ heyday. I love to watch all the old Westerns when I have nothing else to watch on tv. My son-in-law saw the nominated movie Django and said to me “You wouldn’t like it” so I probably won’t go see it.Of course, he is a great fan of Tarantino who wrote the story for the movie.

  6. You know I have seen NONE of the Oscar nominated movies. Honestly in recent years, an Oscar almost rates a Red Flag for me. Movies to AVOID. Sad but true.
    Silverado is a favorite.
    True Grit, the original
    I just rewatched Rooster Cogburn and loved it.
    El Dorado
    The Son’s of Katy Elder
    Sorry didn’t mean to just start listing all John Wayne movies. 🙂 That happens when you start talking westerns sometimes.
    Paint Your Wagon
    High Plains Drifter
    I just saw (again) Open Range with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall, love that movie

    I’m drawing a blank but there are lots.

  7. Monte Walsh with Lee Marvin. (Not the TV one). Django Unchained was made here, where I live. Tarantino is now my favorite person. Haven’t seen the movie, but the whole cast was here, in town, for a very long time last winter. I’m glad that it did so well.
    Coming from a Cowboy family, we are very critical of western movies. We will sit and critisize saddles, hats, whether the men can ride (at all), etc. So when a picture comes out like Lonesome Dove or Dances With Wolves we sit up and take notice. Pretty darn accurate! Of course Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall can hardly do wrong in my book.

  8. It seems like most of the good westerns in recent years are made for TV movies: Lonesome Dove, Open Range, Broken Trail and of course just about all of the Tom Selleck and Sam Elliot westerns. Another big screen favorite which did receive Oscar recognition is The Big Country with Gregory Peck and Burl Ives-beautiful scenery.

  9. Dances With Wolves is one of my favorite movies. I also like Across the Great Divide & Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.

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