The Burrowers (2008)
What do you get when you take the conflict between Native Americans and pioneers and throw in a horrific parasitic species that eats humans? You get 2008's The Burrowers. This Western-horror hybrid didn't make big waves when it was released, but it's a must-see for fans of either genre.
Set in 1879, the movie follows a group of settlers attempting to survive and explore the brutal West. After a series of nighttime attacks first thought to be perpetrated by Native Americans, our pioneers discover that the truth about these deaths is much more monstrous than they could have ever imagined.
Open Range (2003)
Kevin Costner is no stranger to Westerns, and while 2003's Open Range maybe doesn't reach as high as his classic Dances With Wolves, it's still another great entry in the genre by this multi-talented actor, director, and producer.
While a movie about a cattle drive on the open range might not sound like a good time, there's plenty of Western-tinged intrigue and excitement to go around. And you better believe there's an epic showdown at the end.
Sometimes a Western movie just won't cut it--you just want more. Thankfully, we've got HBO's Deadwood from the early 2000s to give us a Wild West fix. Set in an 1870s mining town in South Dakota, the series featured a talented ensemble cast sometimes portraying real life people--like Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok.
When it was released, the show caused a bit of a controversy over it's liberal use of profanity and compromising situations. Western purists thought that it damaged the clean cut reputation of the genre. And maybe it did. But I don't for one minute believe that real Wild West renegades and outlaws were constantly quoting Bible verses and helping old ladies cross the street.
The Magnificent Seven (2016)
No, not that Magnificent Seven--the 2016 remake. A lot is on the line when a studio decides to remake a movie as iconic as this one, but for the most part, they did a good job. Not every critic loved it, but it grossed $162 million, so fans were clearly on board.
Starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, the movie answers the age old question of "What if Robin Hood were seven people with guns?" When the evil robber baron Bartholomew Bogue terrorizes the town of Rose Creek, it's up to the Magnificent Seven to set things right.
The Devil's Rejects (2005)
The Devil's Rejects was written, produced, and directed by Rob Zombie, so that should let you know this isn't your grandpa's Western movie. And while the movie doesn't go easy on the violence, if you've got a strong enough constitution, you're in for one of the strangest and best movies in the genre.
The Devil's Rejects is actually a sequel to Zombie's previous film, House of 1000 Corpses. But while the original film has a very Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe, the sequel went full-blown Western. The movie follows three of the original antagonists who are now on the run from an increasingly violent and crazy sheriff. Their journey across the West might be dry and arid, but there will be plenty of blood to cool you off along the way.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
You know you're dealing with Oscar bait when a movie's title is this long. But Oscar bait or not, The Assassination of Jesse James ended up being one of the most beautifully shot movies of all time.
In the film, we see Robert Ford (played by Casey Affleck) befriend the outlaw Jesse James. But things take a dark turn when Ford decides he'd rather be known as the man who killed James instead of just being his lackey. With a three-hour running time, it's a long one, but it's worth every minute.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
While many of the best Westerns are set in the 1800s, not all of them are. And that includes some of the best of all time--like the Cohen brothers' No Country for Old Men. Judging by its box office success and the boatload of awards it won, this was the movie to see in 2007, and it still remains one of the greatest Westerns ever made.
The movie is based off the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, so two things are guaranteed--it's gonna be Western, and it's gonna be bloody. Starring Javier Bardem as a hitman who kills by the flip of a coin, No Country for Old Men doesn't just take you deep into the West--it takes you deep into the darkness of the human psyche.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
If you're like me and go into There Will Be Blood thinking that it's going to be some amazing, gruesome horror movie, you're going to be disappointed. But if you go in knowing that it's not just a Western but one of the most iconic Westerns of all time, you might have a better time.
Starring Daniel Day Lewis, this period film follows a miner turned oil tycoon as he ruthlessly acquires wealth in southern California in the late 19th/early 20th century.
The Good, the Bad, the Weird
Western movies aren't just a thing of the West, and over the years there have been several great films to come out of Asia, including The Good, the Bad, the Weird. Its title is clearly a reference to the classic movie The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and it definitely delivers on the weird too!
Set in 1930's Manchuria (northeast Asia), the movie features a number of classic Western archetypes on the search for treasure. That all sounds very traditional so far, but just wait until the motorcycles show up...
Django Unchained (2012)
Django Unchained was Quentin Tarantino's first attempt at the Western genre, but judging from the results you'd think he was an old pro. Tarantino managed to successfully merge his hyper-stylized, hyper-violent style not only with the Western genre but also with the blaxploitation movies of the 60s and 70s.
The story follows Django (played by Jamie Foxx), a slave turned bounty hunter who's attempting to free his wife from a slave owner (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). It's not for the faint of heart, but it's also a movie you'll never forget.
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
3:10 to Yuma is a 1950s Western short story that's been made into a movie twice--once in 1957 and again in 2007. However, if you've only got time to watch one, you should definitely go with the newer version.
If you thought your commute was bad, just wait til you see what goes down on the train to Yuma. The story follows a poor farmer who agrees to help transport an outlaw to prison via train. Unfortunately, the bad guy (played by Russell Crowe) has a group of henchmen dead set on freeing their boss.
True Grit (2010)
If you thought this was just an unnecessary remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic, think again. This 2010 film returns to the original source material (the novel True Grit) to create more of a readaptation than a straight-up remake.
The story follows Mattie Ross (played by Hailee Steinfeld) as she embarks on a journey to find her father's killer. Along the way, she's aided by the iconic Rooster Cogburn (played by Jeff Bridges) as she searches for the murderer.
Before 2011, people would call you crazy if you tried to tell them that one of the best Western movies of all time would be animated. But after the success of Rango, those people had to eat their words. Everything about this family friendly (but still amazing) Western is out of the box, but somehow it just all comes together.
Starring Johnny Depp as the titular Rango, the story follows the chameleon as he stumbles into an Old West-style town. The townsfolk love him when he reveals that he's a skilled sharpshooter, but things get complicated once the bad guys show up and it turns out he was lying about everything.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
In 2018, the Cohen brothers made Western magic again with the release of their anthology film, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Because of its anthology nature, this movie has a little bit of everything--humor, heartbreak, and, of course, plenty of violence.
Each of the vignettes seem a little random and unconnected at first, but there is definitely a theme that runs through them all and ties them together--providing you're willing to look hard enough. But even if you're not willing, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is yet another high point for the Cohen brothers and their growing army of Western films.
The Nightingale (2018)
Australia doesn't just like Western movies--they've managed to put out some pretty great ones themselves. And that includes 2018's gruesome hit, The Nightingale.
The film follows Clare, an 1825 resident of a penal colony run by a sadist. Like every great Western, The Nightingale is a story of revenge and justice. But unlike some other classics, the distinction between good and bad isn't always as clear cut in this movie.