The original idea behind The Deer Hunter centered around around a group of men who go to Las Vegas and end up playing Russian Roulette. It wasn’t until a decade or so later, after director Michael Cimino signed on, that the film took shape as a harrowing saga about the Vietnam War and its devastating effects on a group of friends from working-class Pennsylvania. Alongside an ensemble of lived-in performances from John Savage, Meryl Streep, John Cazale (in his final role), and an Oscar-winning Christopher Walken, Robert De Niro creates a stoic portrait of the flawed, troubled Michael, who is defiantly committed to his hometown brotherhood; whose manner of speaking is oblique, even Hemingwayesque; and whose rare emotional outpourings shoot straight to the heart. Winner of the Best Picture Academy Award.