This week Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt star in Antoine Fuqua’s remake of classic western ‘The Magnificent Seven’, a beloved tale about a septet of heroes hired to protect a town beset by villainous outlaws.
The original ‘Magnificent Seven’ was itself a remake of ‘Seven Samurai’, and is considered one of the all-time great westerns alongside ‘The Searchers’, ‘Once Upon a Time In The West’ and ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’.
To mark its release, we thought we’d run through some of our favourite gun-toting westerns, but not those made back in the glory days of the genre. Instead, we’ve focused on Westerns made during the modern era.
We start with another remake; one so good it’s considered every bit the classic its predecessor is. The Coen brothers took on the John Wayne original and made it work for modern audiences, imbuing it with their trademark wit and uncanny ability to get top performances of their cast.
Jeff Bridges gives an Oscar-winning performance as Rooster Cogburn, making him and Wayne only the second pair to win Academy Awards for the same role (the other pair being Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro in ‘The Godfather’ trilogy).
Alongside Bridges is young Hailee Steinfeld in a breakout role that could have and perhaps should have earned her an Oscar at the age of just 14.
Quentin Tarantino’s best since, well, his last film, ‘Django Unchained’ was a hugely popular spin on the western and Blaxploitation genres starring Jamie Foxx is the eponymous freed slave who finds himself on a mission to free his long-lost wife.
Leonardo DiCaprio chews up the scenery as deplorable plantation owner Calvin Candie and Christoph Waltz turns in an Oscar-winning performance, making him two for two when it comes to collaborations with Tarantino. Bloody good fun.
‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’
Probably the best film to ever be spoiled by its own title, ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ makes up for what it lacks in suspense with fantastic performances from Brad Pitt as James and Casey Affleck as Ford.
Rango is an unexpectedly delightful animation and arguably Johnny Depp’s last great film. Directed by Gore Verbinski, it is wonderfully animated by the team at Nickelodeon Movies. Like a great many animated films, it’s a fish-out-of-water story, but this one is about a pet chameleon stranded in the Mojave Desert learning to become a gun-slinging hero.
Depp nails the lead role, and he has great support from a cast that includes Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy, Alfred Molina, Timothy Olyphant and Ray Winstone.
An excellent film thanks in no small part to the genius of Nick Cave, who penned the script about a notorious outlaw given nine days to kill his older brother, lest his younger brother be executed. Cave didn’t just write the film, he also did what he does best and provided the music with Bad Seeds bandmate Warren Ellis.
It’s the film that made the career of director John Hilcoat, who went on to direct this year’s ‘Triple 9’, ‘Lawless’ and post-apocalyptic drama ‘The Road’.
One of last year’s most underrated films, ‘Slow West’ isn’t a western in the traditional sense. While it bears many similarities, ‘Slow West’ is much more about young love. Its dark comic touches and a musical element that courses through its lean runtime, makes the film stands out from the ‘Django’s and ‘True Grit’s on this list.
Kodi Smit-McPhee plays a young Scottish man searching for the love of his life across 19th-Century Colorado, accompanied by Michael Fassbender’s jaded Silas Selleck. Their chemistry makes the film a must-see.
‘No Country For Old Men’
Another Coen Brothers classic, and another Oscar-winner. ‘No Country For Old Men’ was perhaps the last Best Picture Academy Award winner pretty much everyone agreed was a worthy victor. It also netted Javier Bardem a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for a performance around which the film revolves.
A western set in the modern day, ‘No Country For Old Men’ wonderfully compliments ‘True Grit’ the western Joel and Ethan Coen would go on to make three years later.
Picture Credits: Paramount Pictures / The Weinstein Company / First Look Pictures