The Best of the Modern Westerns

I was fortunate enough to see 3:10 to Yuma a few weeks back and got to revel in the sheer awesomeness of it. In short, if there's one movie this year to take your dad to, this is it. Make a day of it. It's a wonderful film that's been on my mind ever since and has had me out renting some of my favorite modern Westerns. Here are some films you should consider picking up either to get in the mood or to continue the mood of 3:10 to Yuma.


Well, he should have armed himself if he's going to decorate his saloon with my friend.

-Clint Eastwood as William Munny

Easily the best Western ever, this deconstruction of the Spaghetti Western won Oscars and hearts with the story of a man trying to outrun his past and failing spectacularly. Dark, brooding and frankly, if I have to tell you anymore about it, I should probably gun you down for not having seen it. Yeah, it really is that good.


Mind? You bring a posse to my best hideout and you ask me if I mind?

–James Gammon as Dawson

Modern legend Lawrence Kasdan (writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark) created the end-all and be-all of modern pop Westerns with this fun and very well constructed story of four strangers fighting corruption in a small town.

The Quick and the Dead

The Smith and Wesson Schofield .45. Just meat and potatoes. Me and Jesse James think it's the best handgun in the world. Had the trigger guard removed, it saves drawin' time. Don't ever wear it when you're drunk, or you'll kill your feet.

–Leonardo DiCaprio as The Kid

Cheesy, over-the-top, and everything it is supposed to be, this is Spider-Manand Evil Dead director Sam Raimi's incredible Western. Complete with a cast that no money could duplicate today, including Russell Crowe, Sharon Stone, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gene Hackman, Gary Sinise, Lance Heinrickson, Keith David and Tobin Bell. It's about the fastest gunfighters in the West getting together for a competition to test who really is the fastest. Oh, and the competition is to the death.

Seraphim Falls

Go as you wish. That which is yours will always return to you. That which you take will always be taken from you.

–Wes Studi as Water Man

This one snuck out last year without a peep, but is one hell of a great, heady Western. Not a film to kick back on the couch and zone out to, this is a wonderfully original, metaphysical film about the nature of revenge. Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan play two men pitted against one another in the wilds of the Old West. Trouble is the movie isn't exactly quick to tell you who's the good guy and who's the bad guy. As the story unfolds, the characters each become richer and richer but it isn't until the end that you know for sure who you're rooting for. This is a film for the man who thinks he's seen everything.

Open Range

Men are gonna get killed here today, Sue, and I'm gonna kill 'em.

– Kevin Costner as Charlie Waite

Until recently, this was the best Western since Unforgiven. Many will say that this weekend's 3:10 to Yuma takes its crown. And yes, I'm one of those people. But that still doesn't stop this from being an amazing Western and one of Kevin Costner's best films. It's a bit of a slow burn. But if you're the patient type, this movie really pays off in the end.

C. Robert Cargill - - - Email Me


Austin-based Cargill, who not only loves but owns The Cutting Edge, writes on movies and DVD five times a week.