Michael Cimino: A Timeline of the Writer-Director's Career Highlights

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Michael Cimino

From 'Thunderbolt and Lightfoot' to 'Deer Hunter' to 'Heaven's Gate.'

Michael Cimino, who won two Oscars for the powerful 1978 drama The Deer Hunter, died Saturday at the age of 77. Cimino originally moved to Hollywood in the '70s with dreams of being a screenwriter, getting a credit on a Clint Eastwood film (Magnum Force) in 1973, and another Eastwood film to follow. His Oscar-winning Deer Hunter came only a few years later. 

His next project after Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate (1980), capsized United Artists with his budget excesses, resulting in the words "Heaven's Gate" entering filmmaking lexicon as an out­-of-control, over­budget production. After Heaven's Gate, Cimino's directing was sporadic, with his work including Year of the Dragon (1985), The Sicilian (1987), Desperate Hours (1990), Sunchaser (1996) and a segment in To Each His Own Cinema (2007).

Below is a timeline of some of Cimino's career highlights. 

1973: Magnum Force, starring Clint Eastwood, with a script credit for Cimino, is released. "He's responsible for my career," Cimino told The Hollywood Reporter last year in one of his final interviews. "I wouldn't even be talking to you were it not for Clint."

1974: Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, starring Eastwood and Jeff Bridges, written and directed by Cimino, is released.

1978: The Deer Hunter, starring Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, John Cazale, Christopher Walken and John Savage, is released.

1979: Cimino wins best picture and best director Oscars for Deer Hunter, as well as a Golden Globe for best director.

1980: Heaven's Gate, starring Kris Kristofferson and Walken, is released.

1985: Year of the Dragon, starring Mickey Rourke, is released.

1996: Sunchaser, starring Woody Harrelson, is released as Cimino's final full-length feature.

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