Oscar Movies: Matewan (1987)–John Sayles Political Tale

A vast improvement, narratively and technically, 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

 

Oscar Context:

 

The winner was Vittorio Storaro for The Last Emperor