Question: My boy and I are on a Western film kick that started with Ballad of Buster Scruggs (way underrated). From there we hit The Searchers, Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, and Hondo. Last night we watched Butch Cassidy, which, while exceptional at times, felt dated and longer than its run time.
What else should be on the list?
Answer (D): The key to answering this question is to know that there are lots of Best Westerns, and then there are the Best Westerns, and then there are the best Westerns, but these are some of my best Westerns, at least the ones I can remember:
- Lonesome Dove series (!)
For pure, wholesome, family-like entertainment, it’s hard to go astray with these two. The apex of Val Kilmer.
The Spaghetti Trinity, plus one and then plus another one
- Fistful of Dollars
- For a Few Dollars More
- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
- Once Upon a Time in the West
I recommend seeing at least one of the first two two before diving into Il Buono and friends. Then wait a year and watch Unforgiven (spoiler alert: he aint like that no more).
Once Upon a Time is not the fastest-moving movie, but it is exceptional.
Top Ten in my Favorite Movies
- There Will Be Blood
There is not a greater movie about American capitalism than There Will Be Blood.
I Really Enjoyed These Movies
- True Grit
- A River Runs through It (!)
I am partial to the Coen version!, though you might have to watch it with closed captions. And, who doesn’t like movies about would-be professors and their exceptionally good-looking brothers? I also enjoyed Ballad of Buster Scruggs, especially the Liam Neeson one.
And Franco, of course.
- No Country for Old Men
- Hell or High Water
- Lone Star
No Country is exceptional, but too violent for sharing with anyone not accustomed to violent movies. Hell or High Water was a little preachy upon rewatching, but was one of our L&D Picks for 2016. Also violent. Gold is definitely underrated. McConnaughey in tighty whiteys that are neither tight nor white.
Possibly too Violent, but mostly great
- Hateful Eight
Tarantino kept the tension high for a while, but then it devolves into Kill Bill. Isn’t that just like him?
Way too Violent, but completely great
- The Wild Bunch
Way Too Violent and Disturbing and Under No Circumstances Share this with Your Kid, but Great and, hey, Nick Cave!
- The Proposition
I was so excited about this movie and I was loving watching this movie and there are so many things right about this movie and, wait, what just happened?!
I Want to Live in a World With These
- McCabe and Mrs. Miller
- Dead Man
Altman and Jarmusch weigh in, wow. How this missed the Jarmusch Film Festival, I’ll never know.
More from the Classics
- Treasure of the Sierra Madre (more western mining!)
- The Ox-Bow Incident (yikes!)
- Shane (I want to live forever!)
More Good Stuff
- The Long Riders
- Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
- The Assassination of Jesse James…
- Pale Rider
- 3:10 to Yuma
Does anyone besides me remember The Magnolias version of “Pale Horse, Pale Rider”? To paraphrase a colleague, “The Magnolias don’t even remember playing that song.”
I really liked the remake of 3:10 to Yuma right up until near the end, and then…. Russel Crowe is very good. Gretchen Mol is even better.
So, that’s a hundred hours of entertainment, and you might even learn something along the way. Hit me up if you are planning to see any of these on the big screen.
Except for The Proposition. I can’t handle that again.