The overall trend in Westerns seems to be a branching out into different moods and styles, and cross-genre efforts. The moods/styles list, with examples:
- Gritty realism — the miniseries Godless is an example.
- Greater historical realism — too many examples to count. Seems the bar has just generally been raised. Some of this may be owing to research having gotten significantly easier with newspapers, library map collections and so on getting put online for free.
- More complex characters – also many examples. I especially like the descriptions of the Cheyanne characters in Longmire — Henry Standing Bear is clearly smarter and more responsible than his good friend Walt, and observes everything with extremely dry commentary. The casino owner, Jacob Nighthorse, is morally complex. He clearly commits crimes, but he’s really good at it and one could plausibly argue that he’s working for the benefit of his people in the only way he can.
- Sci-fi westerns like Firefly/Serenity and Westworld.
- Greater diversity and the use of the genre to address issues of social injustice, for instance racism in Django Unchained and the current immigration mess at the US border with Mexico (
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Longmire. The Cheyenne are the best characters. Longmire’s buddy Henry Standing Bear is the smart, wryly humorous, responsible counterweight to Longmire’s tendency to jump in before learning all the facts. The casino owner, Jacob Nighthorse, is morally complex.
Godless (2017 miniseries) – Gritty, and most of the characters are tough, capable women.
Tears of the Black Tiger (2000) – made in Thailand, got to the US several years later.
The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008) – Korean director, Asian setting
Django Unchained (2012)
Rango (2011) – hero is a chameleon.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) — is just weird not speculative
Open Range (2003) with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall punching cattle.
Yellowstone (2018 series)
- Dusty Richards
Other media mentioned during the panel
Mostly this is just a list of books, movies, and TV series that are of interest, without much explanation of what makes them interesting. Please feel free to expand on that in the comments.
- Have Gun Will Travel (tv series)
- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
- Priest (Japanese comic)
- The Kid
- The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. – Wikipedia. A weird western from the early 90s that showed there was a market for that sort of thing.
- Shanghai Noon (movie)
- The Mask of Zorro
- Red Dead Redemption (game)
- Cool Ranch (game)
- Hostiles (movie): Tommy Lee Jones is hired to escort an imprisoned old and dying Indian chief back home.
- Hell On Wheels (series) about the building of railroads thru the American West.
- Quigley Down Under (movie) about cowboy in Australia.
- Jane Has a Gun (and she means to use it on some bastard who ruined her life)
- Dead Man’s Gun (is apparently cursed)
- The Mandalorian