Seventy years ago, western films were huge, but they’ve largely fallen out of favor. However, don’t tell that to these ten current western epics.
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It’s hard to believe that this style of film used to be so prevalent. A moviegoer in the heyday of Hollywood could never miss a western when they threw a handful of popcorn at the screen. Even after a financial disaster like Heaven’s Gatebankrupted the whole industry in the 1980s, the Western was a pariah that studios were afraid to touch. Public disdain for traditional western movie plotlines, which typically included racism, sexual violence and a whitewashed portrayal of colonial past has since waned Enrico Morricone’s death appears to be just another dismal milestone in the downfall of the Western.
However, Western fans need not fear, as the genre is currently in the process of recreating itself. A lot of talented indie filmmakers have also taken on the Western genre, providing their own unique interpretations of what a modern Western should look like. Since the old days, the roles of women, indigenous communities, and people of color have not been prominently featured in modern stories and storylines.
1. The Homesman (2014) – 6.6
Life on the frontier can push a person to the brink of madness, as anyone who read “The Lamp at Noon” in high school can attest to.” When it comes to this post-colonial western, which takes place some time in 1850s Nebraska, it is what propels the story.
There are a number of ladies in the story who need Mary Bee Cuddy’s help getting home after their life on the frontier have become unbearable.
Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones star in the film, which wasn’t exactly a crowd-pleaser due to its raw honesty and lack of conventional romance, but it was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and received rave reviews.
2. Appaloosa (2008) – 6.7
Another fantastic part about this film, which has a lot going on, is Viggo Mortensen showing off his horse sense by riding a horse around. Taking place in a frontier town in the mid-19th century, the film is titled after the city where the majority of the action takes place. Additionally, Ed Harris is on hand to demonstrate his steely cowboy skills, as well as direct the film and write the script.
3. Seraphim Falls (2006) – 6.7
Revisionist Westerns are making a comeback, and this film is one of the most well-known examples. This movie, titled Seraphim Falls, has seasoned action stars Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan as well as actors who can do both acting and stunt work.
The film begins with a mystery and gradually reveals its secrets, making it more intelligent than a standard Western. The truth about what happened at Seraphim Falls is only revealed at the end of the film.
4. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2015) – 6.9
In contrast to Luke Skywalker, Han Solo is a cowboy who roamed the open plains of the American West. Although it wasn’t always a smooth ride, He is frequently spotted in a canteen, either hiding or fleeing from the authorities, whether they be local, mafia-connected, or system-wide.
Lando Calrissian serves as a crew member in this instance.
Because science fiction and westerns have a long and interesting history of collaboration, Solo: A Star Wars Story not only qualifies as a Western but also fits neatly into an established subgenre.
5. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) – 7.5
According to the film’s name, it is an honest lesson on meeting our heroes, romanticizing previous events, and welcoming the most dangerous foes into our homes. While no one is surprised by the ironic twist, it’s still entertaining to see.
Suspense is the primary focus of the film, although there is a fair amount of action as well. It depicts both real-life incidents and dramatizations in its representation of James’ last few years in Missouri in the 1880s.
6. The Hateful Eight (2015) – 7.8
He has revived several careers, so it is good to see him take the Western genre under his wing and bring it back to life. As only Quentin Tarantino can do, the script plays on Western clichés while ripping them apart.
Acclaimed actors fill the little roles they’re given with ease. As a party of road trippers waits it out in a snowbound cabin, the huge open spaces usually associated with this type of film are limited.
7. Open Range (2003) – 7.4
Silverado and Dances With Wolves were released in 1990 and 1985, respectively, thus aren’t eligible for inclusion on this list. It’s Kevin Costner who returns to the West in Open Range, despite his normally law-abiding persona, to defend his cattle from a corrupt lawman with his trusty holstered revolver.
Although the picture isn’t particularly adventurous when it comes to fresh concepts, its attractiveness lies in this. Despite the great production standards and star power of Robert Duvall and Annette Benning, this picture didn’t garner the attention it deserved.
8. 3:10 to Yuma (2007) – 7.7
Despite the fact that there is some bloodshed, this is mostly a film about a struggle of the mind. Bale portrays a criminal who is awaiting trial, while Crowe is the rancher who has been given care of the outlaw. In order for Ben Wade, the honest cow-man, to earn a large reward and save his farm, the two men must journey to a town called Contention, symbolically enough. However, his ward isn’t giving up without a fight, and as the frontier closes in around them, the two men engage in a battle of wills to the death.
9. The Revenant (2015) – 8.0
In a classic tale of taming the frontier, man is pitted against nature in a survival horror-like tone. Fur trading expeditions are the setting for this novel, so it’s not about gunslinging or gold rushes. Once Hugh Glass is attacked by a bear, the rest of the story is around man versus man, as well as man versus wilderness.
The Revenant has a few differences from other Westerns, such as its northern locale and more realistic depictions of frontier violence. There’s not much depth to the story; it’s just violent vengeance done the old-fashioned way.
10. Django Unchained (2012) – 8.4
Playing a good man is Christoph Waltz. He once again joins forces with Quentin Tarantino to aid a liberated slave named Django in his mission to save the woman he left behind on a harsh plantation. The plot follows the ancient Germanic myth of Siegfried and Brunhilde, which adds still more layer to what initially appears to be a standard onion. When it came to casting, Tarantino didn’t merely put his friend in the perfect part. The fact that this character is fluent in German is critical to the story.
However, instead of battling a mountain and a dragon, the hero must battle the evil of Candyland to save his lady love. In the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, there is always a terrible witch lurking in the woods, luring hungry children with sweet goodies.