A vast improvement over John Sayles’ previous efforts, “Matewan,” explores the personal and political dimensions of union-making and union-breaking in West Virginia’s coal mines of the 1920s. A complex study of individual integrity and community solidarity, the film was assisted by Haskell Wexler’s luminous cinematography of Appalachian locations and Mason Daring’s blue-grass soundtrack. However, Sayles’ unabashed homage to the martyr years of American labor was not sufficiently engaging from a dramatic standpoint.
Oscar Nominations: 1
Cinematography: Haskell Wexler
Oscar Awards: None
The winner was Vittorio Storaro for The Last Emperor