10 Best Western Movies to Watch Right Now

10 Best Western Movies to Watch Right Now

June 5, 2024

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Westerns have been a staple of American cinema for over a century, but many countries and cultures have also put their spin on the Wild West. From the spaghetti Westerns of Italy to its edgier revivals in Asia and elsewhere, the genre has endured and produced some of the most enjoyable films out there. So if you’re in the mood for some gun-slinging action and sweeping vistas, these are the best Western movies you can watch right now. Brooding cowboys, sun-drenched deserts, and the sounds of galloping await!

1. Hell or High Water (2016)

best

9.2

Country

United States of America

Director

David Mackenzie

Actors

Alma Sisneros, Amber Midthunder, Ariel Holmes, Ben Foster

Moods

Raw, Suspenseful, Well-acted

Written by actor-turned-screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (Sicario) and directed by David Mackenzie (who is responsible for the prison drama Starred up), this well-acted Western is one of the most captivating movies of 2016. Chris Pine and Ben Foster play two brothers, one cautious and out to better himself, the other, an ex-convict with an itchy trigger finger, whose family ranch is threatened by the local bank. Both set out to make a high-risk living of travelling and robbing that bank’s local branches. On the other side of town, grizzled Texas ranger Marcus, played by none other than Academy Award-winner Jeff Bridges, has one foot in retirement but is bent on solving their case. The film’s spectacular cinematography is reinforced by the brooding original music, composed by none other than Nick Cave and long-time collaborator Warren Ellis. It takes you on a journey that is as much about the two brothers’ violent upbringing as it is about the decaying towns they visit, making this modern-day crime western not only a great thriller but a tribute to the Texan way of life.

2. The Rider (2018)

best

8.5

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Chloé Zhao, Female director

Actors

Brady Jandreau, Derrick Janis, Greg Barber, Mooney

Moods

Raw, Sunday, Suspenseful

This is quite the movie. It’s based on the true story of Brady Jandereau, an ex-rodeo star who suffered from an injury that took him away from riding horses. This is the best part, in the movie, he actually plays himself. His friends in the movie are his real-life friends. And the horse taming scenes are real wild horses being trained (by him). The line between reality and the filmmaking process is so thin here. An absolutely mesmerizing movie, directed by Chinese filmmaker Chloe Zhao. The Rider. Don’t miss it.

3. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

best

8.2

Country

Canada, UK, United Kingdom

Director

Andrew Dominik

Actors

Alison Elliott, Anthony Harrison, Brad Pitt, Brooklynn Proulx

Moods

Dramatic, Slow, Suspenseful

Robert Ford is an aspiring gangster who idolizes Jesse James, leader of the notorious James gang. When that admiration reaches a level where it can transform to challenge and resentment, he starts considering the unthinkable. The cast is excellent- Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell, Jeremy Renner, Sam Shepard, Paul Schneider, and Garret Dillahunt. Brad Pitt delivers an amazing performance which truly captures the presence that Jesse James brought to a room, one that seemed to overcome those around him. In addition the soundtrack is superb, one of the most memorable I have ever heard. This is a very unique, thrilling, and well-shot movie, it is easily one of the most underrated films of the past 10 years.

4. Lawless (2012)

best

8.0

Country

United States of America

Director

John Hillcoat

Actors

Alex Van, Bill Camp, Bruce McKinnon, Chad Randall

Moods

Action-packed, Dramatic, Thrilling

Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, and Shia Laboeuf (the good Shia Laboeuf) all star in this true-story-based gangster tale. As a result, Lawless is cliché-free, fast, and violent – yet it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Bootlegging Bondurant brothers live according to different rules, yet run a successful business during the prohibition era. When new authorities try to shut them down violently, each one of them has a way of dealing with it. The story runs very smoothly, and added to the perfect performances and great staging, Lawless becomes very entertaining, and a true pleasure to watch.

5. The Sisters Brothers (2018)

7.9

Country

Belgium, France, Germany

Director

Jacques Audiard

Actors

Aidan O'Hare, Aldo Maland, Allison Tolman, Andrew Litvack

Moods

A-list actors, Dark, Funny

This is a star-packed movie about two brother assassins played by John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix, and starring Jake Gyllenhaal. You might have read the book of the same name, and it is always hard to make a great film out of a great book but the brilliant director of A Prophet Jacques Audiard has done it (again). He is aided by a superb darkly comic script and fantastic acting from the entire cast. Audiard is French, but his take on the American Western is filled with epic violence but also witty dialogue, brotherly love, and male camaraderie.

6. First Cow (2020)

7.7

Country

United States of America

Director

Female director, Kelly Reichardt

Actors

Alia Shawkat, Don MacEllis, Dylan Smith, Eric Martin Reid

Moods

Heart-warming, Quirky, Slow

Two misfits, an immigrant and a traveling cook, team up to start an unlikely enterprise in this slow but captivating drama. The story, set in 19th century Pacific Northwest, evolves around the arrival of the first cow to that part of the world. This presents a unique opportunity that the two main characters try to benefit from. 

First Cow is a mix between a Western and a modern-day plot-less indie drama.  It has likable characters, stunning scenery, and a fascinating look into how social outcasts lived back then.

7. Hostiles (2017)

7.5

Country

United States of America

Director

Scott Cooper

Actors

Adam Beach, Austin Rising, Ava Cooper, Ben Foster

Moods

A-list actors, Well-acted

The work of two people stand out here: the actor Christian Bale and the cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi (Silver Linings Playbook, Warrior, The Grey, Spotlight, etc.) Bale plays an Army Captain who agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief and his family through treacherous lands. The general and the chief, being old enemies, embark on a journey where their conflict seems the least of their worries. The cinematography is lush and reminiscent of the classics of the Western genre. It is a harshly stunning film you should watch.

8. Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (2017)

7.5

Country

Indonesia, Indonesia France Malaysia Thailand, Malaysia

Director

Female director, Mouly Surya

Actors

Anggun Priambodo, Ayez Kassar, Dea Panendra, Egi Fedly

Moods

Intense, Suspenseful, Thrilling

There is a lot to admire about this revenge film from director Mouly Surya—the breathtaking shots of rural Indonesia, the grisly practicality of the titular Marlina, the relevant observations on gender politics, and the simple yet stylistic way all of this is revealed. Fans of Westerns and Spaghetti Westerns are also treated with an Eastern reimagining of tropes as the film exchanges long guns for Kabeala knives and sprawling deserts for tropical hills.

Packed with so many delights, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts is a near-impossible miss. But if you somehow find none of this gripping, you can always rely on the sure thrill of seeing scorned women bloodily and rightfully avenge themselves. 

9. Bacurau (2019)

7.4

Country

Brazil, Brazil France, France

Director

Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho

Actors

Alli Willow, Antonio Saboia, Bárbara Colen, Bárbara Colen

Moods

Dark, Mind-blowing, Weird

This incredibly creative and unique movie is set in a fictional small town in the Brazilian Backcountry. It has a realistic first half but things quickly get crazy.

Even in that realistic half, you can clearly tell that something is off about the town of Bacurau. An accident involving a truck carrying coffins turns into an impromptu coffin shop. A dam was built to divert water from people. The village doctor seems to be the least sane person in the village. It’s all wrong.

Bacurau is funny, it’s politically charged, it’s thrilling, and it’s sweet, all at once. It’s that one in a thousand weird movies that actually works, and will inevitably become a classic.

10. The Proposition (2005)

7.3

Country

Australia, United Kingdom

Director

John Hillcoat

Actors

Bogdan Koca, Boris Brkic, Bryan Probets, Danny Huston

Moods

Action-packed, Challenging, Character-driven

The Western had its heyday in the 60s, but the decades have proven that there’s still stories from the deserts that we haven’t heard yet, and gems that twist the genre on its head. The Proposition is a unique Western, being from the East, in Australia where the Brits have started to form colonies. As the British Empire builds society, and the police start to enforce the King’s justice, writer Nick Cave and director John Hillcoat crafts a bloody tale, where promises between men are betrayed for the State, where vengeance can only be met through brutality, and where the line between civility and savagery is drawn and moved by the will of an angry majority. The Proposition is quite violent, but it’s performed well, scored by a moody, moving soundtrack, and it surprisingly contemplates Australia’s bloody past.

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