Oscar Watch: Appaloosa

A Viggo-Works.com has turned some production photos of the new Ed Harris-directed movie Appaloosa. Harris was last seen directing the biopic Pollock, about the life of the troubled abstract painter for which Marcia Gay Harden won the Oscar in an upset. Appaloosa is taken from a novel and is described this way: Two friends hired to police a small town that is suffering under the rule of a rancher find their job complicated by the arrival of a young widow.

Here is more on the book from Publisher’s Weekly:

This is only Parker’s second western, after the Wyatt Earp story Gunman’s Rhapsody (or third if you count the Spenser PI quasi-western Potshot), but he takes command of the genre, telling an indelible story of two Old West lawmen. The chief one is Virgil Cole, new marshal of the mining/ranching town of Appaloosa (probably in Colorado); his deputy is Everett Hitch, and it’s Hitch who tells the tale, playing Watson to Cole’s Holmes. The novel’s outline is classic western: Cole and Hitch take on the corrupt rancher, Randall Bragg, who ordered the killing of the previous marshal and his deputy. Bragg is arrested, tried and sentenced to be hung, but hired guns bust him out, leading to a long chase through Indian territory, a traditional high noon (albeit at 2:41 p.m.) shootout between Cole’s men and Bragg’s, a further escape and, at book’s end, a final showdown. Along the way, Cole falls for a piano-playing beauty with a malevolent heart, whose manipulations lead to that final, fatal confrontation. With such familiar elements, Parker breaks no new ground. What he does, and to a magnificent degree, is to invest classic tropes with vigor, through depth of character revealed by a glance, a gesture or even silence. A consummate pro, Parker never tells, always shows, through writing that’s bone clean and through a superb transferal of the moral issues of his acclaimed mysteries (e.g., the importance of honor) to the western. This is one of Parker’s finest.


  • Free

    At the time, loved Crowe, Hanks was great, Rush was amazing, and Bardem was a viable candidate, but Ed Harris should have won Best Actor in 2001 for Pollock. He was brilliant.

  • vagabond

    Sounds pretty good. I’d love for 2008 to be the Year of the Viggo.

  • Friedl

    I loved Pollock. Thought it was an excellent film.
    Of course… Westerns can be tricky. But I’m finding I really love them, too.

    I’m pretty much excited about anything with Viggo in it. He mines deep. & He’s got class & presence & gruffness all at once.

    & he killed two men, naked, in a Russian bath house.

  • Aue

    I’m hoping renee makes it big with this and makes everybody forgive her for cold mountain!

  • Sam Juliano

    Westerns managed to make an illustrious comeback in 2007 with THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES as one of the years finest films (period), and 3:10 TO YUMA as a stellar entry in the genre. No doubt this critical upswing may well have influenced to decision to go forward—past failures torpedoed other planned projects. Until last year, the most accomplished western film was TOMBSTONE, me thinks.

  • Bob

    Sam J, don’t forget about Unforgiven, the big Oscar Western. That could have been just because of Clint, though.

    I know there are more popular actors, more bankable actors, and more critically acclaimed actors. But is there any single actor that film buffs and movie bloggers love more than Viggo? If I mention the name to most people who don’t follow movies closely there reaction is a blank stare. If I mention it amongst movie-fanatic company, the room lights up and everyone tells their story on the one moment Viggo made them believers.

    Where’s his Oscar?

  • Sam Juliano

    Bob: I definitely agree with you on UNFORGIVEN, but i wasn’t going that far back in my western consideration of the past few years. WYATT EARP was hardly a great film, but it was a tolerable entry in this genre, I may add.

  • RRA wonders about BACK TO THE FUTURE 3?

    Sam Juliano, you’re right…..JESSE JAMES may have flopped, but it was a wonderful cinematic experience, with breathtaking cinematography and moments I’ll never forget. Plus, Brad Pitt actually fucking ACTING…..man because of his style of only bothering to act once every few years, we forget how badass he just can be when he’s pushed.

    And 3:10 TO YUMA was a great popcorn drama, one that I actually thought would have done better in theatres than it did. Plus, that Bale-Crowe team-up was as delicious as it sounded. Fuck you kids!

    Another 2007 western I liked that got ignored was SERAPHIM FALLS. A decent picture maybe screwed by its low budget, but you have a solid drama with Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan. Check it out sometime.

    Can THE PROPOSITION be classified as a Western? Its set in Oz, but it carries traditional genre thematics.

    So yeah, I’m a sucker for westerns (grew up with Uncle Eastwood, Uncle Marvin, Uncle Wayne, Uncle Ford, Uncle WILD BUNCH…) and its nice that we’re getting APPALOOSA with a hell of a cast.

    Mortensen, Renee Zellwegger, Ed Harris, Jeremy Irons, and mother fuckin Lance Henriksen.

  • elessar

    Definitely looking forward to this. Any movie that gets Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, Jeremy Irons, and Lance Henriksen has my ticket bought and sold.

  • Bebe

    I saw Viggo and Ed Harris walking around together yesterday in the flesh and nearly swooned.

  • http://colemancornerincinema.blogspot.com Alexander

    I can’t wait to see this.

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