A Union soldier is exiled to the frontier where he befriends a Sioux
tribe and abandons his post, branding him a traitor to the U.S. military.
Dances with Wolves (1990)
Directed by Kevin Costner
Written by Michael Blake
Starring Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene,
Rodney A. Grant, Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman, Tantoo Cardinal, Robert Pastorelli, Wes Studi, Charles Rocket
Based on the novel by Michael Blake
Oscar Wins - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing,
Best Original Score (John Barry)
Oscar Nominations - Best Actor (Kevin Costner), Best Supporting Actor (Graham Greene), Best Supporting Actress (Mary McDonnell), Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design
I'm going to begin this review by stating that I've always been a fan of Goodfellas, and for many years I believed that it was cheated out of Best Picture by this film. Granted, this was long before I ever thought to give Dances with Wolves a chance to stand on its own merits. Well, now I finally watched 1990's Best Picture winner and I stand by my initial belief. This film may look incredible and have good intentions, but it doesn't have much of a plot. There's very little driving this film along, and Kevin Costner's serious lack of charisma doesn't help things. Despite his heavy involvement, he doesn't appear to be that interested. How this film stormed the Oscars is beyond me, as it is a far cry from what I would consider a contender to be.
Dances with Wolves is aesthetically pleasing and most of the performances are decent. Costner is dry and forgettable, even though this is the movie that essentially made him a movie star. His voiceovers sound like a man reading his shopping list to himself. I can only assume his talents were more focused behind the camera, as his direction crafts a beautiful Civil War-era landscape. I have to add that his choice to let the Sioux speak their own language gave the film an air of authenticity. In every respect but story, this film flourished. There's a great deal of drama, but very little to make the audience care about it.
I would never label this film a "Best Picture" and I still can't believe it took the top prize. It certainly has the elements to be a memorable war epic, but Costner fails to bring them all together. With its three hour run-time and serious lack of story, Dances with Wolves is one of those films that film buffs should have to watch, but only once.