Telluride Film Festival: Can ‘Hostiles’ Welcome Westerns Back Into the Oscar Fray?

Early reactions to “Hostiles” have come swiftly and unanimously; the western flick is Scott Cooper‘s (“Black Mass”) best film yet. “Hostiles” had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, and the Telluride audience’s critiques practically glow. Here’s a few choice comments:

Award Circuit’s own Mark Johnson praised Cooper’s latest work, calling it a “gritty and gruesome” standout Western.

Sasha Stone of AwardsDaily was “blown away” by the film, calling it “one of the best at Telluride.” Fellow AwardsDaily critic Ryan Adams praised “Hostiles” and claimed the films redefines the Great American Western.

The Western follows Captain Joseph J. Blocker, played by Christian Bale (“The Dark Knight”). Set in the early 1890s, the army captain is tasked with escorting a Cheyenne chief and his family through dangerous territory from Arizona to Montana. The film features a world of “beauty, tears and blood,” according to THR. “Hostiles” focuses on the last of the Native American resistance to US colonizers as Blocker ushers the dying Chief Yellowhawk, played by Wes Studi (“Avatar”), home to die.

The film also features Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) as a suicidal, haunted widow the group finds in the desert. Cooper wrote the screenplay based off of late screenwriter Donald Stewart‘s (“The Hunt for Red October”) original draft. “Hostiles” combines the upsetting history of manifest destiny and modern reflection upon its legacy and some brutal violence, with all the hallmarks of classic Westerns.

Bale also received the festival’s Silver Medallion Award in a tribute at the “Hostiles” viewing. Bale snagged the award for his contributions to film during his 30-year career.

Thoughts on “Hostiles”? Think the Western will win big during the upcoming awards season? Let us know in the comments below!