The Most Overrated Western- Dances with Wolves
I don't hate Kevin Costner like a lot of people, I really do like him as an actor. And I am bitter about this beating Goodfellas at the Oscars (I would have actually voted for Awakenings if I was there), this is a great movie. But still an Oscar winning, AFI Top 100 movie? No, but still watch it once or twice if you have the time.
The Most Underrated Western- The Shootist
The theme of impending death and regret is fascinating in this movie and it gets even more fascinating that you consider that this was intended to be The Duke's last film. And it is a great farewell. Many of his previous co-stars appear in supporting roles and Ron Howard gives his best performance. Watching this you get the feeling that he could have definitely had a great acting career if he had chosen to follow it.
The Most Disappointing Western- Cowboys and Aliens
Too many cooks in this movie. Jon Favreau, Steven Spielberg, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Steve Oedekerk and Damon Lindelof were all involved in some capacity. The pairing of Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in the old west is an exciting prospect. And it is the western portion of the movie that really works. I would love to see Favreau tackle a full western. But the sci-fi is sloppy and the aliens are a terrible payoff. This movie also doesn't have enough fun, it takes itself way too seriously for this ridiculous of a premise. The saving grace of the film is Clancy Brown and the always dependable Sam Rockwell. But that's about it.
The Most Surprising Western- Back to the Future Part III
I grew up with the original Back to the Future and watched it a lot, but I never saw the sequels until a few years ago. And they are just as good as the first, this is really one of the most perfect trilogies ever in terms of telling one, consistent story. I love it when a franchise can switch up a setting and this duo fits great in the old west. And Biff Tannen in a great outlaw. This is much more of a western than a genre hybrid but when sci-fi, comedy and western tropes all come together in the finale it makes for a great finish to one of my favorite film franchises.
My Guilty Pleasure Western- 3:10 to Yuma
Not a huge guilty pleasure as it is a good movie. But I remember loving it a lot when it was first released and defending it to a lot of people. Especially the end, which I still don't think is a big turnaround. But whether it is a masterpiece or just quality entertainment it is quality entertainment that you can watch several times.
My Favorite Western- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
This movie is absolutely enthralling. It has a great script, gorgeous cinematography from Roger Deakins, one of the most beautiful and haunting scores that I have ever heard and a pair of great performances. It is long and I know of people who find it boring and pretentious. But if you're in the mood I think you should give it a chance. I don't think that Casey Affleck will ever get a role this good again.
The Worst Western- How the West Was Fun
Plenty of terrible westerns I could name so I'll just go with this. It counts, right?
The Best Western- The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Just edging out The Searchers. The best payoff in movie history and another great score.