100 best Western films of all time, according to critics
When someone heads to the movie theater in 2018 they’ll likely be seeing an adventure action drama or comedy. During the first half of the 20th century however the most popular movie genre was the Western. Stories about the American frontier gun-toting cowboys and horse-riding outlaws dominated cinemas and drew in huge crowds. In fact more Westerns were produced in the 1950s than all other movie genres combined.
Despite their decrease in popularity over the last 60 years Westerns still have plenty of defenders and enduring appeal. If you’re new to the genre and don’t know where to start—or if you’re a long-time fan looking for inspiration—check out Stacker’s list of the 100 best Western films of all time. Stacker compiled this list using data from Metacritic, a site which collects reviews from respected critics and uses them to determine the average rating.
Read through Stacker's list of the 100 best Western films to find something new to watch tonight.
#100. The Missing
Release date: Nov. 19 2003
Cate Blanchett plays a mother in 1885 New Mexico fighting for her daughter's life against an Apache brujo. She seeks the help of her estranged father played by Tommy Lee Jones.
#99. Wild Horse, Wild Ride
Release date: Aug. 24, 2012
“Wild Horse, Wild Ride” is a documentary that follows nine horse trainers competing in the Extreme Mustang Challenge. Directors Greg Gricus and Alex Dawson showcase the emotional journeys of the trainers as they attempt to tame wild mustangs in just 100 days to win a cash prize and recognition of their skills.
#98. All the Pretty Horses
Release date: Dec. 25, 2000
Billy Bob Thornton produced and directed “All the Pretty Horses,” an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name. The story follows two cowboys looking for work in Mexico when one of them, played by Matt Damon, gets into trouble after he falls for a rancher’s daughter, played by Penelope Cruz. The movie was met with mediocre reviews, which Matt Damon blames on heavy edits to Thornton’s first version of the film—including the removal of the original soundtrack.
Release date: Feb. 19, 2016
In “Forsaken,” a retired gunman attempts to reconnect with his estranged father when he comes up against a local gang and must consider going back to his violent ways. Real-life son and father Kiefer Sutherland and Donald Sutherland teamed up to play the lead roles, while Jon Cassar directed.
#96. Sukiyaki Western Django
Release date: Aug. 29, 2008
In this Japanese Western, an unnamed gunman arrives in Yuta, a town with two competing gangs. Both gangs welcome the gunman to join them, but he refuses their offers, choosing instead to make his own decisions. The title “Sukiyaki Western Django” includes references to both the Japanese dish sukiyaki and the Western film “Django.”
#95. Back to the Future Part III
Release date: May. 25, 1990
The only Western of the “Back to the Future” series, Part III brings Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, back to 1885 where he attempts to save Emmett “Doc” Brown. While not as financially successful as the first film in the trilogy, “Back to the Future Part III” was the sixth-highest grossing film worldwide in 1990.
#94. Ned Kelly
Release date: Mar. 26, 2004
The late Heath Ledger starred as the titular character in this Australian historical drama. The film depicts the life of outlaw Ned Kelly from his childhood until he was sentenced to death. This is not the first movie to center on Kelly, and it won’t be the last: Justin Kurzel is directing “True History of the Kelly Gang,” which started production in 2018.
#93. Saving Private Perez
Release date: Sep. 2, 2011
“Saving Private Perez” is the story of Julian Perez, a powerful Mexican drug lord. Following orders from his mother, Perez heads to Iraq to save his brother, who is serving in the U.S. Army. One of the starring actors, Jaime Camil, went on to play Rogelio de la Vega in “Jane the Virgin.”
#92. Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Release date: Sep. 12, 2003
“Once Upon a Time in Mexico” is the third film of the “Mexico Trilogy,” all of which were written and directed by Robert Rodriguez. El Mariachi, played by Antonio Banderas, is enlisted by a CIA agent, played by Johnny Depp, to take down a drug lord and thwart his attempted coup against the President of Mexico. Among the cast of famous faces: Enrique Iglesias, making his Hollywood movie acting debut.
#91. Good for Nothing
Release date: Mar. 9, 2012
While traveling to the American West from England, Isabella Montgomery is kidnapped by an outlaw. Though at one point she nearly escapes, after some time Isabella finds herself developing feelings for her captor. “Good for Nothing” received a positive review from movie critic Leonard Maltin, and was listed in his book “Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide 2013 Edition.”2018 All rights reserved.