This masterpiece somehow flew under the radar. Chris Cooper portrays a curious Lone Star named Sam Deeds who sets out to solve the 25-year-old murder of a sadistic predecessor. Sam digs up a dirty past that possibly even involves his own father.
This rich and complex film juggles many characters like an acrobatic act!
Forty Guns (Samuel Fuller, 1957)
Some Western romance we have here. When a cattle queen gun "lord" falls for an upstanding sheriff, things get messy. There are a lot of guns and a lot of violence, but at least a feel-good Hollywood "fixes it all" moment.
It's also interesting to know that this Samuel Fuller classic had a ridiculously low budget was shot in 10 days.
Track of the Cat (William A. Wellman, 1954)
In the midst of the harsh California winter, members of a ranching family are quarreling among themselves while the two sons go hunting for the panther that is killing their cattle.
The reveal of a black panther that drives the story becomes part of a grander metaphor for the root of the family's issues. Thanks to A.I. Bezzeride's screenplay, the story never loses its grip.
Meek's Cutoff (2010, Kelly Reichardt)
Considered to be even anti-western, "Meek's Cutoff" is still a must for this list. The film explores the vast and neverending west and omnipresent violence rather than the occasional gunfights.
Enjoy the scene of the Oregon desert and a brilliant Michelle Williams performance.
Django Unchained (2012, Quentin Tarantino)
This is an amazing tale of an African-American slave who does everything in his power to find and recover his slave wife, Broomhilda. During his journey, he partners with a headhunter, Dr. King Schultz, and becomes his student and later, his partner. This gory lovefest is truly one of the best action films of the decade and received numerous awards and nominations.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays the "Monsieur" Calvin J. Candie, a psychopathic plantation owner who owns Django's wife. During one of the more intense scenes of the film, DiCaprio got so into his monologue that he accidentally smashed a glass in his hands and was profusely bleeding for the rest of the scene. Instead of stopping the scene, he not only continued to act but also smeared the blood on actress Kerry Washington's face to make it more intense. Now that’s what intense method acting looks like!