No matter how much the cinema evolves, there are certain genres that will never go bland. Western genre is one of those. Before CGI kicked in and high-chase sequences and perfect fight scenes became a common thing, there was another way of fighting that lured the audience to the theatre. It was the good ol’ gunslinging way. Cowboys, in their hats and boots and deep husky voices, were a favourite among the audience. And this genre has turned many actors into stars. Over time, filmmakers found new ways of telling their stories, searching for exciting new premises and foreign locations for their characters. This has led to a considerable decrease in the number of Western films. If you are someone who loves these films and are disappointed that you didn’t find any good ones this year, don’t fret. Here is the list of the top Western movies of 2018.
10. The Escape of Prisoner 614 (2018)
Crime is everywhere. The cops have loads of cases to solve, and even before they are done with one, there is already another one on the line. Criminals are critical in providing incessant employment for law enforcers. But not every place is crime-ridden. Shandaken in New York hasn’t seen crime for a very long time. It has been so long that Thurman and Jim, the deputies of that place, can’t remember the last time they arrested if they ever did arrest, someone. While this is a normal thing for them, it is quite difficult to explain to a newcomer. This is what becomes a cause for concern for both of them when they are told that a visiting sheriff is headed towards them. They concoct a story and tell the sheriff that there was a fire and all records were burned in it. The sheriff doesn’t buy it, labels them incompetent and fires them. Stripped of the only thing they had ever been in their life, Thurman and Jim wonder, what do they do now. As an answer to their prayers, they receive a call from the warden of a nearby prison who tells them that a prisoner has escaped. Thurman and Jim set out to catch him so that they can get their jobs back.
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9. Paradox (2018)
This film is set in a future that, by the feel of it, doesn’t seem so far from now, yet lives in a way that doesn’t match the manners of the present world. Something has happened, though what exactly is not explicitly mentioned in the film, and the whole world has gone back to the way people used to live in the old days. Hunting and gathering and living in the arms of nature. An added bonus is that you have a guitar as well. So, things haven’t completely taken a step back. In this world, there lives a group of mismatched people. Among them is a guitar-strumming man who wears a black hat, someone called “Particle Kid” and another who is identified as “Jail Time”, based on the places that these people come from and the history that they had before. There is also a band of cowboys tagging along with them. These people spend their days scavenging for electrical instruments. But, this time, they have their eyes set on a treasure. Its trail leads them to the Mountains where they are waiting for the night for the full moon. Because it is then that the music will create its magic and spirits will point them towards the right path.
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8. Big Kill (2018)
Jim Andrews lived a normal life as an accountant, but his life was upturned after the death of his wife. In order to start a new life, he decides to leave everything behind and travel to the town of Big Kill where his brother owns a big saloon. One the way, he befriends two eccentric men and together they cross the distance to enter the unknown town. However, as soon as they arrive there, it becomes clear to Jim that his brother no longer owns any business, and his downfall must have been quite something because no one is ready to acknowledge his existence. And then, there is a ruthless man who has charged himself with taking care of the lawbreakers in the town. Jim and his friends have to cross perilous waters to discover the truth about his brother and the town.
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7. Gone are the Days (2018)
Everyone has a vision for their life, a hope for leading the kind of life they want to lead. Taylor Flynn wanted adventure and action in his life and he got it by becoming a ruthless outlaw, an unstoppable force. He lived those days in glory and pride, but time washes away everything, good or bad. Flynn is an old man now. His body has been taken over by a disease that is slowly eating away at him and one day, will be responsible for putting him in his grave. Now, Flynn spends his days reminiscing about old times, hoping to drink himself to death before old age does its work on him. He laments the way he has become now as compared to the life he had led. He decides to change it and calls his old partner in crime to embark on one last adventure before meeting their end. But, before that, he needs to reconcile with a daughter he had abandoned long ago. He discovers that time has been hard on her and to make a living for herself, she has turned towards prostitution. The world has sucked her in and a cruel boss employs her. Flynn hatches a plan to get her out of this world and give her a better life, something that he should have done a very long time ago.
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6. Damsel (2018)
Some actors are lucky to become a part of a blockbuster franchise that is loved by a lot of people. But this popularity and stardom come with a tricky thing. These roles set up an image for the actors and shaking it off becomes a monumental task for the actors. Sometimes, these impressions last for too long and the rest of the films, the better ones, go unnoticed. Robert Pattinson has been having the similar time of his life ever since he set up Camp Edward in ‘The Twilight Saga’. Working mostly with indie directors, most of whom are relatively unknown, Pattinson has been doing some great work, but he still seems overshadowed by his Edward persona. In ‘Damsel’, he plays the role of Samuel Alabaster, a man who is on the journey to reunite with his lover and get married to her. He is assisted by his pony, Butterscotch and pastor whom Samuel wants for officiating his marriage. While the man caught in romantics describes his lady love as a sweet, soft flower, there is something entirely different to her. Presumably, a long time has passed and perhaps Samuel doesn’t know her so well. Perhaps, she is not the damsel in distress, he is so adamant to marry with.
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5. The Scent of Rain and Lightning (2018)
This film is based on the novel of the same name by Nancy Pickard. Jody Linder’s parents had been murdered several years ago, and a man was convicted for it. Back then, Jody was younger and didn’t have much sense to understand all the things that were going on around her, except the fact that her parents were gone forever. Obviously, she hated the man who did this to her family, but she slept better at night, believing that the man was behind the bars and that he won’t be able to hurt her any more than he already had. However, the man’s sentence is commuted and Jody is informed that he has been released from jail. A grown-up Jody is not afraid anymore, though she is disappointed with his release and the anger inside hasn’t cooled down yet. So, she decides to confront the man. But, when she does so, she expects some sort of remorse, at least, from the man, or any emotion about what he had done. He shows none. In fact, he acts like he had nothing to do with her which leads Jody to believe that perhaps something could have gone wrong with the trial. As she investigates further, new information comes to light about the case and her parents.
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4. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
There was a time when the description of a cowboy only invoked the image of a sturdy, gunslinging man, wearing a hat and roaming the deserted lands on his horse. But, with the addition of space fiction in storytelling, the Western storytellers found another scenario for their protagonists to exhibit their heroism. They used the tropes of these stories and transferred them to another universe. In space movies, we often see a vagabond, or a bounty hunter or a lawless man on the run from the authorities. ‘Star Wars’ marked the time of the re-emergence of such characters and settings and we got a great character in the form of Han Solo. The other movies in the ‘Stars Wars franchise’ aren’t intrinsically Western because not all characters are the same. However, when you are telling the story of a character who is the epitome of being a space cowboy, you can’t put the film in any other genre. The story needs to be told that way. And so, we have ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’. Putting Han Solo in front and centre, it begins with his childhood, tracing all the events that lead him to the place where we first met him.
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3. The Sisters Brothers (2018)
With the star cast of actors like Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed, ‘The Sisters Brothers’ tackles a couple of genres at the same time. It has the atmosphere of being a drama, but also, occasionally, displays the wits of a comedy, and some heavy emotion also runs among its characters. Eli and Charlie Sisters are brothers who work as hitmen. Their latest work takes them to a mysterious man known as the Commodore who tells them to kill a man for him. He tells them that this man stole his money and needs to pay for his mistake. While the brothers don’t buy it, they have to work for their own money. The Sisters brothers use the help of a man to track down their prey and arrange to bring it to him, but their helper realises that the victim is an innocent man and lets him go. Trouble ensues for all of them.
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2. The Rider (2018)
It takes a lot of time to figure out what you are made for. While it comes easily for some people, the people who just know what they want, for others it can take a lifetime to realise the true purpose of their life. For Brady, it was always an easy choice to make. He loved riding and his career in the rodeo circuit was only rising up the ladder. However, an accident changed everything for him. The injuries affected his motor functions due to which he became prone to seizures. The doctors advised him to give up on riding, warning him that if he doesn’t, the seizures will only get worse and that he might even die because of it. But what is a person if you strip away the one thing that defines them. Brady life takes a directionless turn and he tries time and again to find his way back to riding. One of the best indie movies of the year, ‘The Rider’ is the story of a man who struggles with his identity after his successful career is taken away from him. With wonderful performances from its cast, the film presents an effective portrayal of someone going through an existential crisis. An emotional journey, this film will make you question the priorities of your life.
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1. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
The Coen brothers have made their name for being one of the most distinctive filmmakers in Hollywood. Their stories have a certain, identifying tone to it, something that sets their work apart from other filmmakers. You can tell whether a film is made by them or not! ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ comes with that distinctive tone. It is an anthology that tells six different stories. The first one starts with the titular character, Buster Scruggs. He is a typical Western protagonist with a rather cheerful mood. His story begins with a ride to the Monument Valley where he visits different establishments and we get to know what he is capable of. The next story moves on to a young cowboy. He tries to rob a bank but meets with a strong opposition from the teller. Soon, he finds a noose around his neck and a horse below his feet. Onto the next story and we meet an old man who roams around with a handicapped young boy who performs theatrical classics for the audience. Tired of caring for the boy, the old man now needs some other thing can make him money. Other stories focus on a man trying to dig for gold on a river bank, a woman trying to deal with life after the death of her brother, and three people travelling in a cargo.
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