I've been losing sleep over this one. My problem was that I couldn't think of 10 great Westerns. Some people are going to hate me for saying that, but the Western is a limited genre. It has to take place at a certain time in a certain place.
1. Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo (1966). That's how you say The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly in Italian. According to imdb the #4 movie of all time, regardless of genre. The RZA's favorite movie. Funny, thrilling, and a brisk three hours.
2. Unforgiven (1992). This movie is fascinating. It's an anti-western Western. It has anti-gun shootouts. An anti-violent killer as the protagonist. Some of the shots are fascinating: the camera shots from behind holsters, or behind campfires at night. Great cast, too, with Clint, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, and Richard Harris.
3. Blazing Saddles (1974). You know how everyone quoted Austin Powers or Wedding Crashers after they came out, but no one says "Yeah, baby!" anymore? Well I don't go a week without hearing "Excuse me while I whip this out." It's a shame Cleavon Little never really hit it big.
4. C'era una volta il West (1968). Once Upon a Time in the West, the #20 movie all time according to imdb, and Sergio Leone's second movie on my list. What hurts it is the inevitable comparisons to The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly. Charles Bronson is surprisingly effective, and Henry Fonda and Jason Robards both give memorable performances.
5. The Searchers (1956). John Ford's sprawling Western opus, it's so much deeper than any Western that preceded it. The good guys aren't that good, the bad guys aren't that bad, and the outcome is in doubt.
6. The Wild Bunch (1969). Without question the movie Peckinpah is remembered for. Both Unforgiven and Pulp Fiction borrow themes and images from this movie about the death of the West, the Western, and the 60s.