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A man on a horseback overlooking a bluff



As long as there have been movies, there have been Westerns – a genre of storytelling set in the western United States during the later half of the 19th century. These movies were so popular that the genre became synonymous with America itself. There was even a time when the Western rivaled the comic book craze of today. And while Hollywood may not be pumping out old-fashioned Westerns like they used to, the new millennium has delivered some absolutely stellar stories from the age of the cowboy. Here are three of the best Westerns of the 2000s.

The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Wow. As far as movie titles that give away the ending goes, this one certainly takes the cake. Nevertheless, Brad Pitt puts on a fantastic performance as notorious outlaw Jesse James, while Casey Affleck positively shines as the titular character Robert Ford. So much so that Affleck earned himself an Oscar nomination for the role. And while you may know how the story ends, like life, it really is about the journey.

True Grit (2010)

A remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic of the same name, True Grit stars Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn, an aging, drunk, one-eyed U.S. marshall recruited by Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) to hunt down her father's killer. With the legendary Coen brothers in the director's chair and Matt Damon and Josh Brolin rounding out the cast, it's not too far-fetched to say that this 2010 version is on par with Wayne's original.

The Harder They Fall (2021)

While True Grit mirrors the West in its heyday and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford represents the ever-present march into the 20th century, The Harder They Fall echoes the stylish, hyper-realism of Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns (so named because they were all shot in Italy). Like Leone, director Jeymes Samuel creates a world of fast-paced action, rich color palette, bombastic musical cues, and larger-than-life characters (all named after actual historical Black figures from the era). The Harder They Fall is only a few months old, so we don't want to spoil anything, but we will say, as far as modern-day Westerns go, this film feels less like a hip homage (looking at you, Django Unchained) and more like an evolution of the genre itself. Needless to say, this movie is definitely worth your time.

For more fun-filled articles on a variety of subjects, be sure to check out our other Olympus Midtown blog posts.