A couple of weeks ago, Quentin Tarantino said that he loved working on Django Unchained so much, he wanted his next film to be a western also. This news made my day because I would love to see a resurgence of the western genre. Westerns are not considered one of the top tier genres, but I think that they are one of the most complex and interesting. Conventional rules do not apply to westerns. The protagonist/antagonist line is slightly blurred. That is what makes them more real. Any one of us would like to think that we are good people, but put us in a circumstance where we or someone we love is threatened, and we will fight to the bitter end. That is what the western is all about, the darker, grittier side of humanity. That is what I love about these films.
Just a little disclaimer; I am in no way a western aficionado. I chose these films because they are my favorites. Feel free to share your favorites with me in the comment section below! Maybe there are a few that I haven’t seen or I need to watch it again, so please… recommend away! With that being said, let’s begin:
10) MAVERICK (1994)
Starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, and James Garner. The comedy centers on Bret Maverick (Gibson) and his need to find money to join a poker tournament. This movie really doesn’t fit the western mold, but it is one of my favorites. Gibson and Foster are a perfect pairing; they play wonderfully off each other. Don’t worry; there is plenty of action and plot twists to keep it in the western category.
9) 3:10 TO YUMA (2007)
Starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. I know that this is a remake, but I haven’t seen the original so this is what we are going with. This movie has everything you could want in a western. The down on his luck good guy, the charmingly overconfident bad guy, and the bat s%!t crazy second in command, Ben Foster. Add in a dash of Alan Tudyk, and you have a great movie. The story follows near bankrupt rancher who volunteers to escort the most notorious villain of the area to a train bound for prison. Not a bad job until they realize that the crew of the arrested man is going to stop at nothing to get their leader back. The tension in this movie is like when you blow up a balloon. You know if you keep going, the balloon will pop, it is just a matter of when.
8) Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Starring Robert Redford, this movie is perfect example of no matter how hard you try to get away from the world, the world will always find you. Redford plays a soldier fresh out of the Mexican/American war who just wants to leave it all behind, so he becomes a hermit up in the mountains of America. Like I said, no matter what you do to try to hide, the world will find you. He finds himself in a life or death battle with the Crow Native American Tribe. The story is great, and you can never go wrong with a young RR in the leading role. The one lesson to be learned from this, never desecrate an Indian burial ground. Just sayin.
7) Young Guns (1988)
Based on the cast alone, this would be a fantastic movie. The movie stars Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen, Lou Diamond Phillips, Casey Siemaszko, Jack Palance, Terrance Stamp and an almost unrecognizable Dermot Mulroney. The casting is perfect. It follows Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez) and his gang of Regulators on a quest to avenge the death of their boss. I could go on and on about how great this movie is. One of the best popcorn flicks out there. If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth the time.
6) Django Unchained (2012)
This was one of my favorite movies of 2012. I was initially turned off by all of the negative press that surrounded the movie, but I am now glad that I watched it. Tarantino is a true artist when it comes to bringing a story to life, but he is a downright genius when it comes to writing for and directing Christoph Waltz. If you are holding back from seeing this film, stop it! It is truly one of his best performances. Everyone else in this film is great, don’t get me wrong, but he is perfect. I have become a true fan of Waltz, he seems to bring all of himself to every role. And he is one of the best hosts of SNL, EVER!
5) The Magnificent Seven (1960)
This movie is a remake of the amazing Akira Kurosawa’s film Seven Samurai. Even though this is a remake, it stands alone as one of the best westerns of all time. It has the most badass cast in all of badassdom. The movie stars Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, and Eli Wallach. When I mentioned before that Tarantino was going to make another western, I instantly thought of this film. This is totally in his wheelhouse. With his knack for ensemble casts and eye for action I felt that he was a perfect fit for a remake of this movie. I know that there have been rumors floating around Hollywood that Tom Cruise wants to remake this movie. However, as we reported a year ago, he has no writer or director attached to the movie. I think this QT should step in and take control. Just sayin.
4) The Cowboys (1972)
This movie starring John Wayne holds a special place in my heart of hearts. I caught it late one night when I was young and I should have been asleep because it was a school night. I watched from beginning to end and was worthless at school the next day. It is on my favorite movies of all-time list. Wayne plays a cattle rancher who loses all of his crew to the gold rush. Desperate to herd his cattle to the next town, he recruits local boys ranging in age from 9-15 and has them help him run his cattle train. I am usually an emotional wreck after I watch this movie. Totally worth watching.
3) Unforgiven (1992)
If you want to get technical about this, my top five western movies are all tied for first. However, for the sake of listing things I have put them in this order. This is about as Debbie Downer as a movie can get. The acting in this movie is phenomenal, and if you didn’t already know this, Clint Eastwood is one of the best directors in the world. The shots in this film are breathtaking and the cast is impeccable. I usually don’t find downer movies that interesting, but this movie draws you in and doesn’t let you got until the credits roll.
2) The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)
If Sergio Leone was on this Earth for anything, it was to make a kick-ass western. Out of all of the westerns he directed, this is by far my favorite. If you have never seen this movie, then I feel bad for you son! You really need to check it out. It stars Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, and Lee Van Cleef, all in search of a mysterious grave filled with coins. The movie is a little on the long side, but it is totally worth it in my opinion.
And my favorite western of all time is….
1) Tombstone (1993)
This is one of those movies that I can watch at any time. Like Shawshank Redemption and movies like it, the story never gets old. The cast is amazing, with a stand-out performance by Val Kilmer. I doubt you will find anyone that will play Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday better than Kurt Russell and Kilmer. The supporting cast is spot on. So spot on that it took me awhile to not hate Stephen Lang because of how well he played the slimy little weasel Ike Clanton. This movie about the shoot-out at the OK Corral will have you looking for the opportunity to say, “I’ll be your huckleberry.”.
The following may not be the best of the best, but they are worth checking out if you have nothing better to do. They are completely in my Guilty Pleasure category.
The Quick and The Dead (1995)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
The Three Amigos (1986)
Cowboys and Aliens (2011)
Like I have said before, this is totally my opinion on things. If you think I am completely off, let me know, but share your favorites below!