100 best Western films of all time, according to critics

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March 24, 2021
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100 best Western films of all time, according to critics

For decades in America, the most popular movie genre was the Western. Audiences loved gun-slinging sheriffs, dashing outlaws, thundering cattle drives, horseback pursuits, and majestic landscapes. More Westerns were produced in the 1950s than all other movie genres combined, but while they have attracted smaller crowds since then, they still have a persistent appeal.

Early Westerns set the standard with cowboys played by the likes of Gary Cooper and John Wayne, and spaghetti Westerns, products of the Italian film industry in the ’60s and ’70s, starred box-office draws like Henry Fonda and Clint Eastwood. More recent Westerns have been romantic and thoughtful like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Dances With Wolves,” and “Brokeback Mountain.”

Stacker compiled the 100 best Western films of all time using data from Metacritic, a site that collects reviews from respected critics and uses them to determine the average rating. Whether you’re a longtime movie fan checking in on your favorites, or new to the genre, there are films on this list for you.

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1 / 100
Batjac Productions

#100. The Train Robbers (1973)

- Director: Burt Kennedy
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 92 minutes

John Wayne plays a Union Army veteran who signs on to help a train robber’s widow, played by Ann-Margret, find a stash of gold hidden by her late husband. Director Burt Kennedy also wrote the movie, which is action-filled with an unexpected ending.

2 / 100
New Line Cinema

#99. Appaloosa (2008)

- Director: Ed Harris
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 115 minutes

When a rancher terrorizes a small town in New Mexico, two lawmen, played by Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris, are hired to straighten things out. Harris not only stars in “Appaloosa,” but also co-wrote, directed, and produced it. The story is based on a novel of the same name written by Robert B. Parker.

3 / 100
United Artists

#98. The Long Riders (1980)

- Director: Walter Hill
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 100 minutes

“The Long Riders” follows a fictionalized depiction of Jesse James’ bank-robbing escapades. Notably, four real-life sets of brothers were cast to play four sets of brothers, including James Keach and Stacy Keach, who played Jesse James and Frank James respectively. The Keach brothers also helped write and produce the film.

4 / 100
Universal Pictures

#97. The Electric Horseman (1979)

- Director: Sydney Pollack
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 121 minutes

Robert Redford plays a washed-up rodeo star who is hired as a spokesperson for a cereal company. He feels like such a sellout that he steals the company’s horse and runs away, soon followed by reporter Hallie Martin, played by Jane Fonda. Country music star Willie Nelson had a role in the movie and also sang five songs on the film’s soundtrack.

5 / 100
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

#96. Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)

- Director: Steve Carver
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 107 minutes

In this action Western, a Texas Ranger seeks revenge on the man who hijacked a U.S. Army convoy, injuring his daughter and killing her boyfriend. Chuck Norris stars in the film, which served as the basis for his later television series titled “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

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6 / 100
3rd Identity Films

#95. Bomb City (2018)

- Director: Jameson Brooks
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 95 minutes

“Bomb City” is based on true events surrounding the death of 19-year-old Brian Deneke. In 1997, Deneke was murdered when 17-year-old Dustin Camp intentionally hit him with his car. The film depicts the hit-and-run, the resulting court case, and the perception of the punk rock community in Amarillo, Texas.

7 / 100
Grisbi Productions, Le

#94. Hostiles (2017)

- Director: Scott Cooper
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 134 minutes

Christian Bale plays an Army captain tasked with escorting a Cheyenne chief, played by Wes Studi, back to his home in Montana. The National Congress of American Indians praised “Hostiles” for representing Native Americans well, and using Native American languages appropriately.

8 / 100
Producciones Panicas

#93. El Topo (1970)

- Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 125 minutes

The surreal “El Topo” follows the quest of a mystical man clad in black, traveling on horseback through the Mexican desert with a naked child. “El Topo” means the mole, which the movie says will go blind seeing the sun after a life digging tunnels underground. With Alejandro Jodorowsky as its director, writer, and star, the film became a cult classic.

 

9 / 100
Jolly Film

#92. A Fistful of Dollars (1967)

- Director: Sergio Leone
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 99 minutes

Clint Eastwood had his first leading role playing the Man With No Name, who gets involved in an argument between three brothers and a sheriff. “A Fistful of Dollars” is the first film of the spaghetti Western “Dollars Trilogy,” all directed by Sergio Leone.

10 / 100
Ripple World Pictures

#91. Never Grow Old (2019)

- Director: Ivan Kavanagh
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 100 minutes

A small Western town is disrupted by the arrival of an outlaw, played by John Cusack, who opens a salon and a brothel. Emile Hirsch plays an Irish immigrant and the town’s undertaker, whose life changes with the villain’s arrival. Bleak and grim, the film was shot in Ireland and directed by Irish director and screenwriter Ivan Kavanagh.

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11 / 100
Touchstone Pictures

#90. The Horse Whisperer (1998)

- Director: Robert Redford
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 170 minutes

“The Horse Whisperer” is about Tom Booker, a horse trainer who helps a girl and her horse recover after a traumatizing accident. Robert Redford played Booker, and directed the film. He was nominated for best director at the 56th Golden Globe Awards.

12 / 100
Devon/Persky-Bright

#89. The Missouri Breaks (1976)

- Director: Arthur Penn
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 126 minutes

Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, and Randy Quaid head up the cast of “The Missouri Breaks,” a film about a horse thief, a rancher, and an avenger. Arthur Penn also directed “The Miracle Worker,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” and “Little Big Man.” It was written by novelist Thomas McGuane.

13 / 100
FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

#88. The Beguiled (1971)

- Director: Don Siegel
- Metascore: 66
- Runtime: 105 minutes

Set in the American Civil War, “The Beguiled” depicts a girls school in Mississippi. When one of the students comes across a wounded Union corporal, played by Clint Eastwood, the teacher must decide what to do with him. This film was based on a novel by Thomas P. Cullinan, which was the inspiration for a 2017 movie also titled “The Beguiled.”

14 / 100
Campanile Productions

#87. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

- Director: George Roy Hill
- Metascore: 66
- Runtime: 110 minutes

Outlaws Butch Cassidy, played by Paul Newman, and the Sundance Kid, played by Robert Redford, flee to South America after a failed train robbery. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” won the most awards at the 42nd Academy Awards ceremony, taking home four Oscars.

15 / 100
Warner Bros.

#86. Bronco Billy (1980)

- Director: Clint Eastwood
- Metascore: 66
- Runtime: 116 minutes

Clint Eastwood stars as Bronco Billy, a cowboy barely keeping his traveling circus afloat. He’s able to hire a new assistant, played by Sondra Locke, but his troubles don’t end. Although the film received mostly positive reviews, Locke was nominated for a Razzie Award for worst actress.

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16 / 100
Soapbox Films

#85. The Wind (2019)

- Director: Emma Tammi
- Metascore: 66
- Runtime: 86 minutes

This mix of Western and horror genres depicts the descent into madness of Lizzy Macklin, an isolated 19th century frontierswoman played by Caitlin Gerard. The pared-down story is presented in flashbacks and out-of-sequence scenes as she recalls them. One reviewer wrote: “It’s about a loneliness so overwhelming that it becomes terrifying.”

17 / 100
IDTV Film

#84. The Last Christeros (2013)

- Director: Matias Meyer
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 89 minutes

The story picks up in 1929 at the end of the Cristero War, a conflict that erupted when the Mexican government limited the rights of the Catholic church. Though the war is over, a group of Christian guerrillas are not done fighting for religious freedom.

18 / 100
Touchstone Pictures

#83. Open Range (2003)

- Director: Kevin Costner
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 139 minutes

When threatened by a corrupt land baron, a cattle crew leader must use the skills he gained during his time as a soldier to defend himself. Kevin Costner directed and starred in the film along with Robert Duvall, Annette Bening, Michael Gambon, and Michael Jeter. “Open Range” was Jeter’s last film, as he died in March 2003.

19 / 100
Warner Bros.

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

- Director: Andrew Dominik
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 160 minutes

Robert Ford, played by Casey Affleck, starts out as a young fan hoping to join the group of outlaws led by Jesse James, played by Brad Pitt. After Ford finally earns his place in the gang, his relationship with James turns sour. The film was nominated for a number of awards, and recognized as one of the best films of 2007 by numerous critics.

20 / 100
Ceibita Films

#81. The Desert Bride (2018)

- Directors: Cecilia Atán, Valeria Pivato
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 78 minutes

An Argentinian maid is travelling to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a new job. On her trip, her bus breaks down, leading to a chance encounter with a man named El Gringo, and the beginning of her true journey.

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21 / 100
Visiona Romantica

#80. The Hateful Eight (2015)

- Director: Quentin Tarantino
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 187 minutes

In this Quentin Tarantino Western, eight travelers take cover from the winter weather in a lodge and end up getting into a lot more trouble than they expected. The ensemble cast includes Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The film won a number of awards, including an Academy Award for its soundtrack.

22 / 100
Rafran Cinematografica

#79. My Name Is Nobody (1974)

- Directors: Sergio Leone, Tonino Valerii
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 117 minutes

In this spaghetti Western, Henry Fonda plays aging gunslinger Jack Beauregard, who wants to retire, and Terence Hill plays a young gunfighter who idolizes him and wants to arrange one last shoot-out. One reviewer called it “part spoof, part farewell to the frontier myth.”

23 / 100
EuropaCorp

#78. The Homesman (2014)

- Director: Tommy Lee Jones
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 122 minutes

Mary Bee Cuddy, played by Hillary Swank, takes on the task of escorting three mentally ill women from Nebraska to a church in Iowa. George Briggs, played by Tommy Lee Jones, is about to be lynched for a crime, but Cuddy saves him on the pretense that he will help her on the journey. Jones also co-wrote the screenplay and directed the film.

24 / 100
Produzioni Europee Associate (PEA)

#77. The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2010)

- Director: Ji-woon Kim
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 130 minutes

This South Korean Western follows two bandits and a bounty hunter as they battle to obtain a treasure map. It plays off “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” one of the most lauded Western films of all time.

25 / 100
Universal Pictures

#76. Death of a Gunfighter (1969)

- Directors: Alan Smithee, Don Siegel, Robert Totten
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 94 minutes

The Texas town of Cottonwood Springs decides to fire its old-style marshal, but he refuses to leave, arguing that the town promised him the job for life. It features Richard Widmark, Lena Horne, and Carroll O’Connor, who went on to star as the iconic Archie Bunker in television’s hit show “All in the Family.”

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26 / 100
Warner Bros.

#75. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

- Director: Clint Eastwood
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 135 minutes

This Western is a revenge story, with main character Josey Wales hunting down the Union militants who killed his family during the Civil War. Clint Eastwood plays the titular character and also directed the film.

27 / 100
The Malpaso Company

#74. High Plains Drifter (1973)

- Director: Clint Eastwood
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 105 minutes

“High Plains Drifter” is about a stranger who comes to town and is subsequently hired to unite the townsfolk before three outlaws arrive. Clint Eastwood directed and starred in this Western.

28 / 100
Universal Pictures

#73. Ride With the Devil (1999)

- Director: Ang Lee
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 138 minutes

Set during the American Civil War, “Ride With the Devil” is about a man who joins the Bushwackers, a guerilla gang fighting against the Union. Tobey Maguire plays the lead character Jake Roedel. The movie is based on the novel “Woe to Live On” by Daniel Woodrell.

29 / 100
RKO Radio Pictures

#72. Cimarron (1931)

- Director: Wesley Ruggles
- Metascore: 70
- Runtime: 123 minutes

In “Cimarron,” a newspaper editor played by Richard Dix and his wife, played by Irene Dunne, join the land rush to the rough frontier of Oklahoma. It was the first movie to be nominated in every major Academy Award category, the first Western movie to win an Oscar, and the first Western movie to win for Best Picture. Not until 1990 did another Western, “Dances With Wolves,” win the Oscar for best picture.

30 / 100
Warner Bros.

#71. The Great Race (1965)

- Director: Blake Edwards
- Metascore: 71
- Runtime: 160 minutes

The Great Leslie and his rival Professor Fate compete in a daredevil race from New York to Paris—west across America to the Bering Strait and Russia—in a contest sponsored by automakers to boost sales. Tony Curtis plays The Great Leslie, Jack Lemmon plays Professor Fate, and Natalie Wood and Peter Falk round out a top-notch comic cast. The film was dedicated to silent movie comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

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31 / 100
See-Saw Films

#70. Slow West (2015)

- Director: John Maclean
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 84 minutes

Kodi Smit-McPhee plays a young man who leaves Scotland for the American West in search of his lost love. Michael Fassbender plays an outlaw who offers to assist him. “Slow West” is directed by John Maclean.

32 / 100
Tig Productions

#69. Dances With Wolves (1990)

- Director: Kevin Costner
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 181 minutes

A Union Army lieutenant is stationed way out West in the American frontier. Once he reaches his post, he begins to form relationships with the local Indigenous people. Kevin Costner starred in and directed this film, which went on to win the Academy Award for best picture.

33 / 100
Caliber Media Company

#68. Bone Tomahawk (2015)

- Director: S. Craig Zahler
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 132 minutes

When cannibals capture three residents of a small town, the sheriff and his team set off to rescue them. This Western horror film was written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, who also contributed to the soundtrack.

34 / 100
Perfect World Pictures

#67. News of the World (2020)

- Director: Paul Greengrass
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 118 minutes

Tom Hanks stars as a veteran Civil War captain and storyteller who agrees to accompany a girl returning to her family after being taken by the Kiowa people six years earlier. The two travel hundreds of miles of dangerous frontier. The making of the movie marked a reunion of Hanks and director Paul Greengrass, who had worked together on “Captain Phillips,” a film about the hijacking of a U.S. container ship by Somali pirates.

35 / 100
Game 7 Films

#66. Five Fingers for Marseilles (2018)

- Director: Michael Matthews
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 120 minutes

Set in South Africa during apartheid, “Five Fingers for Marseilles” begins when a young man named Tau kills two corrupt policemen. When he is released from prison two decades later, Tau wishes to renounce violence and return home. A new threat, however, prevents him from leading the peaceful life he desires.

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36 / 100
Crossbow Productions

#65. Blazing Saddles (1974)

- Director: Mel Brooks
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 93 minutes

Mel Brooks directed and co-wrote this raunchy Western, which made American Film Institute’s list of America’s 100 Funniest Movies, coming in at #6. The film satirizes Western films and their racism by building the plot around a Black man appointed sheriff of an all-white town. Cleavon Little stars as Bart, the newly appointed sheriff, while Gene Wilder plays Jim, an alcoholic who quickly becomes his friend. Mel Brooks also appears.

37 / 100
Cherokee Productions

#64. Skin Game (1971)

- Director: Gordon Douglas, Paul Bogart
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 102 minutes

Set before the Civil War, two men set up a con to sell one of them, who is Black, to an enslaver, with plans to split the profits when he escapes. It stars James Garner, Louis Gossett Jr., and Ed Asner. The film drew controversy and protests for using a white man in Black face as Gossett’s stunt double.

38 / 100
UK Film Council

#63. The Proposition (2006)

- Director: John Hillcoat
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 104 minutes

“The Proposition” is an Australian Western directed by John Hillcoat. Police Capt. Stanley offers a proposition to outlaw Charlie Burns: He can walk free if he kills his older brother Arthur. If Charlie cannot follow through within nine days, his younger brother Mikey will be hanged.

39 / 100
Automatik Entertainment

#62. Little Woods (2019)

- Director: Nia DaCosta
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 105 minutes

Tessa Thompson and Lily James play estranged sisters struggling to get by in small-town North Dakota. One of the sisters has quit the life of smuggling drugs across the Canadian border, but is drawn back in by a series of family crises. The debut by writer and director Nia DaCosta won critical acclaim.

40 / 100
Running Wild Film

#61. Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde (2013)

- Director: Suzanne Mitchell
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 93 minutes

Suzanne Mitchell’s documentary includes footage shot over the course of a decade. Her subject is Dayton O. Hyde, a conservationist cowboy who devoted his life to creating and running the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.

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41 / 100
FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

#60. The Magnificent Seven (1960)

- Director: John Sturges
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 128 minutes

This epic tells the story of seven gunfighters hired to protect a Mexican peasant village from brutish, marauding bandits. The all-star cast includes Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Horst Buchholz, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, and James Coburn. It is loosely based on the “Seven Samurai” by Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.

42 / 100
Produzioni Europee Associate (PEA)

#59. For a Few Dollars More (1967)

- Director: Sergio Leone
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 132 minutes

In the second film of Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy,” Clint Eastwood plays Manco, a bounty killer who teams up with another bounty killer to take down murderous outlaw El Indio. Screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni claims to have written the screenplay in nine days.

43 / 100
Porchlight Films

#58. True History of the Kelly Gang (2020)

- Director: Justin Kurzel
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 124 minutes

Based on a novel by Peter Carey, this film was the latest of several to portray the lives of outlaw Ned Kelly, played by English actor George MacKay, and the Kelly Gang in the Australian bush in the 1870s. Previous movie versions featured Heath Ledger and Mick Jagger as Kelly.

44 / 100
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#57. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

- Director: Stanley Donen
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 102 minutes

After a backwoodsman brings his new wife home, his six brothers are inspired to look for wives as well. This Western musical was met with positive reviews and included on the American Film Institute’s list of Greatest Movie Musicals of All Time.

45 / 100
Pax Enterprises

#56. The Professionals (1966)

- Director: Richard Brooks
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 117 minutes

A wealthy Texan hires a team of men to rescue his wife who has been kidnapped in Mexico. The cast includes Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Claudia Cardinale, Jack Palance, and Ralph Bellamy. Academy Award-winning Richard Brooks also directed such acclaimed films as “Looking for Mr. Goodbar,” “In Cold Blood,” “Lord Jim,” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

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46 / 100
B.R.C. Produzione S.r.l.

#55. Django (1966)

- Director: Sergio Corbucci
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 91 minutes

The spaghetti Western set along the U.S.-Mexico border features a former Union soldier, a hunted runaway, a pack of white supremacists, and Mexican revolutionaries in violent confrontation. It was loosely based upon “Yojimbo” by Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, as was “A Fistful of Dollars” by Sergio Leone, and its title refers to guitar great Django Reinhardt.

47 / 100
Arts+Labor

#54. The Retrieval (2014)

- Director: Chris Eska
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 92 minutes

Set at the start of the American Civil War, “The Retrieval” stars Ashton Sanders as Will, a Black boy who is under the influence of slave-hunter Burrell. Burrell is keeping Will’s uncle captive, so Will has no choice but to agree when he’s sent on a mission to catch an escaped slave in Union territory.

48 / 100
Sanford Productions (III)

#53. Jeremiah Johnson (1972)

- Director: Sydney Pollack
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 108 minutes

Robert Redford plays the title character, a Civil War veteran who heads west for a solitary life, and struggles to co-exist with the Crow Indians. The film, which took seven-and-a-half months to edit, was the first Western ever entered into competition at the Cannes Film Festival.

49 / 100
Myriapod Productions

#52. Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys (2014)

- Director: Jessica Oreck
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 84 minutes

Jessica Oreck’s documentary follows a family of Finnish reindeer herders for one year. Though the film does not contain much dialogue, it still communicates a great deal about this challenging lifestyle.

50 / 100
Illuminaria Productions

#51. Dead Man’s Burden (2013)

- Director: Jared Moshe
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 93 minutes

Post-Civil War, a husband and wife living in New Mexico are struggling to stay afloat. When a mining company shows interest in buying their property, things start looking up, until the wife’s brother arrives home from the war. Clare Bowen is the lead in this Western; she also starred in the country musical television show “Nashville.”

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51 / 100
Regency Enterprises

#50. The Revenant (2015)

- Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 156 minutes

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a hunter who is attacked by a bear and left to find his own way to safety through the frozen wilderness. “The Revenant” earned DiCaprio the Academy Award for best actor, his first Oscar, being nominated five times previously.

52 / 100
Lionsgate

#49. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

- Director: James Mangold
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 122 minutes

Set in New Mexico, “3:10 to Yuma” is a remake of a 1957 film of the same name. It stars Christian Bale as a rancher who is given the challenging task of bringing an outlaw, played by Russell Crowe, to prison.

53 / 100
EuropaCorp

#48. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)

- Director: Tommy Lee Jones
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 121 minutes

A young man hopes to honor his deceased best friend by bringing him to his hometown in Mexico for a proper burial. This Western, directed by Tommy Lee Jones, was inspired by the real murder of Esequiel Hernandez Jr., an American high school student who was shot by a United States marine.

54 / 100
Bananeira Filmes

#47. Jauja (2015)

- Director: Lisandro Alonso
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 109 minutes

Viggo Mortensen stars in “Jauja” as Captain Gunnar Dinesen. After Dinesen’s daughter runs away with a soldier, he must travel into unknown worlds to find her.

55 / 100
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#46. Westworld (1973)

- Director: Michael Crichton
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 88 minutes

In “Westworld,” a Western-themed amusement park is populated with realistic androids that entertain their adult guests. This science-fiction thriller was the basis for the popular HBO television series of the same name.

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56 / 100
Touchstone Pictures

#45. Shanghai Noon (2000)

- Director: Tom Dey
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 110 minutes

Chon Wang, played by Jackie Chan, attempts to save a princess who has been kidnapped and brought to the United States. Along the way he teams up with the train robber Roy O’Bannon, played by Owen Wilson. This is the first movie in the “Shanghai” series, the second being “Shanghai Knights,” and “Shanghai Dawn,” a third rumored to be in the works.

57 / 100
Rafran Cinematografica

#44. Duck, You Sucker (1972)

- Director: Sergio Leone
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 138 minutes

Rod Steiger portrays a Mexican outlaw in this film, and together with James Coburn, who plays an Irish explosives expert, they find themselves in the middle of the Mexican Civil War. After “Once Upon a Time in the West,” this Western was the second in director Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time Trilogy.” The third film was “Once Upon a Time in America.”

58 / 100
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#43. Annie Get Your Gun (1950)

- Directors: Busby Berkeley, George Sidney
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 107 minutes

Based on the 1946 stage musical of the same name, “Annie Get Your Gun” showcases the life of sharpshooter Annie Oakley. Judy Garland was initially cast in the lead role, but after alleged issues with her on the set, she was replaced by Betty Hutton.

59 / 100
Paramount Pictures

#42. The Shootist (1976)

- Director: Don Siegel
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 100 minutes

John Bernard Books led a long life as a talented shootist, but now is suffering from cancer and searching for the best way to die. Books was John Wayne’s final film role; he himself died of stomach cancer a few years after the film was released.

60 / 100
Seven Arts Productions

#41. The Misfits (1961)

- Director: John Huston
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 125 minutes

Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable star in the story of a divorced woman and an aging cowboy. Monroe was married at the time to Arthur Miller, who wrote the screenplay, and their union unraveled during filming in part over her unhappiness with the way her character was written. Gable died of a heart attack just days after filming ended, and Monroe died about a year and a half later.

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61 / 100
Columbia Pictures Corporation

#40. Lone Star (1996)

- Director: John Sayles
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 135 minutes

After the skeleton of a despised sheriff is discovered, current sheriff Sam Deeds begins an investigation into the murder. “Lone Star” was highly rated, and nominated for a number of awards, including the Academy Award for writing.

62 / 100
Annapurna Pictures

#39. The Sisters Brothers (2018)

- Director: Jacques Audiard
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 121 minutes

Set in Oregon during the Gold Rush, a pair of assassins known as the Sisters brothers chase down a man who claims to have developed a formula for finding gold. John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix star as the infamous brothers.

63 / 100
SuperFilms!

#38. Becoming Bulletproof (2015)

- Director: Michael Barnett
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 80 minutes

“Becoming Bulletproof” is a documentary that captures the production of another film: a Western being made by a group of adults with disabilities. Director Michael Barnett showcases the individuals participating in the acting camp run by Zeno Mountain Farm, a nonprofit that organizes recreational programs.

64 / 100
The Samuel Goldwyn Company

#37. The Westerner (1940)

- Director: William Wyler
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 100 minutes

Walter Brennan and Gary Cooper star in “The Westerner,” which depicts the relationship between a self-appointed corrupt lawman and the drifter who stands up to him. Brennan received his third Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role as Judge Roy Bean, which is the record for most wins in this category.

65 / 100
Annapurna Pictures

#36. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

- Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 133 minutes

The Coen brothers wrote and directed this Western epic, which follows six stories of the American frontier. Each chapter has a different cast, featuring actors like James Franco, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, and Zoe Kazan. The film became available on Netflix in 2018, after it ran in theaters.

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66 / 100
Paramount Pictures

#35. Shane (1953)

- Director: George Stevens
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 118 minutes

The saga of a Western land conflict between cattlemen and settlers was supposed to shoot in 48 days with a budget of less than $2 million. Instead it took 75 days to shoot and cost more than $3 million, in part due to a long editing process. The lines “Shane. Shane. Come back!” became iconic.

67 / 100
Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab

#34. Sweetgrass (2010)

- Directors: Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 101 minutes

“Sweetgrass” is a documentary about shepherds working in the mountains of Montana. Anthropologist Lucien Castaing-Taylor directed the film, while his wife Ilisa Barbash produced it.

68 / 100
Optimus Films

#33. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

- Director: Sam Peckinpah
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 112 minutes

A pair of bounty hunters set off in Mexico on the trail of a man wanted by a wealthy father for impregnating his daughter. It stars Warren Oates, Emilio Fernandez, Gig Young, and Robert Webber, and Kris Kristofferson appears as a biker. The movie was trounced by critics when it was released.

69 / 100
Rafran Cinematografica

#32. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

- Director: Sergio Leone
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 175 minutes

A harmonica-wielding stranger teams up with a desperado to save a widow in this spaghetti Western. While initially receiving mixed reviews, “Once Upon a Time in the West” has since received many accolades, including being named one of the 100 greatest films of all time by Time magazine.

70 / 100
Hombre Productions

#31. Hombre (1967)

- Director: Martin Ritt
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 111 minutes

Paul Newman plays John Russell, a white man raised by Apaches. On his way to collect his inheritance, the other travelers treat him poorly for his upbringing. When the stagecoach is robbed, Russell is the only one who can save them.

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71 / 100
Paramount Pictures

#30. True Grit (2010)

- Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 110 minutes

“True Grit” is a Coen brothers adaption of a novel by Charles Portis, which had already been made into a movie in 1969. Hailee Steinfeld plays Mattie Ross, a girl seeking to avenge her father’s death. She hires U.S. Marshal Reuben Cogburn, played by Jeff Bridges, to assist her.

72 / 100
Universal Pictures

#29. Destry Rides Again (1939)

- Director: George Marshall
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 95 minutes

Jimmy Stewart is Thomas Jefferson Destry Jr., a deputy sheriff who wants to keep the peace in the lawless town of Bottleneck without using guns. Marlene Dietrich plays a not-to-be-trusted saloon singer. The lead role was meant to go to Gary Cooper, but he demanded too much money to play the part.

73 / 100
The Weinstein Company

#28. Django Unchained (2012)

- Director: Quentin Tarantino
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 165 minutes

A freed slave, played by Jamie Foxx, journeys to save his wife, played by Kerry Washington, from a Mississippi plantation, accompanied by a German bounty hunter. Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed the film.

74 / 100
Ancine

#27. Bacurau (2020)

- Directors: Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 131 minutes

A remote town in Brazil disappears off satellite maps, loses its cellular service, and empty coffins appear at the side of the road. The town’s oddball cast of characters then must defend themselves against corrupt and greedy politicians and businesses. Former President Barack Obama listed it as one of his favorite movies of 2020.

75 / 100
Argosy Pictures

#26. 3 Godfathers (1949)

- Director: John Ford
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 106 minutes

Three fugitive bank robbers—played by John Wayne, Harry Carey Jr., and Pedro Armendáriz—risk capture to take care of a newborn baby. John Ford had directed an earlier silent version of the film, “Marked Men,” with Harry Carey Sr., and this version features the silent actor’s son.

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76 / 100
Republic Pictures (I)

#25. Johnny Guitar (1954)

- Director: Nicholas Ray
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 110 minutes

Joan Crawford stars opposite Mercedes McCambridge in this story about a headstrong saloon owner who is wrongly accused of murder. Despite initially receiving negative reviews, “Johnny Guitar” is now positively regarded, and was included in the Chicago Reader’s list of 100 best American movies.

77 / 100
Wallis-Hazen

#24. True Grit (1969)

- Director: Henry Hathaway
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 128 minutes

John Wayne takes top billing in the story of gruff, one-eyed U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, who sets off to help avenge a killing, accompanied by a teenage girl played by Kim Darby and a Texas Ranger played by Glen Campbell. Elvis Presley is said to have been considered for the Texas Ranger role, but when his manager Col. Tom Parker wanted Presley to get top billing, the part went to Campbell.

78 / 100
Walt Disney Productions

#23. Old Yeller (1957)

- Director: Robert Stevenson
- Metascore: 84
- Runtime: 83 minutes

In this first live-action Disney film, the title character is a stray yellow dog who appears and helps protect a Texas ranch family after the Civil War while their father has gone on a cattle drive. It was based on the award-winning book of the same name by Texas writer and journalist Fred Gipson.

79 / 100
HI Film Production

#22. Aferim! (2016)

- Director: Radu Jude
- Metascore: 84
- Runtime: 108 minutes

Set in 19th century Romania, an enslaved man has run away from his master’s home after having an affair with his wife. A local policeman is hired to find him. The director Radu Jude won the Silver Bear Award for best director at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival.

80 / 100
George Stevens Productions

#21. Giant (1956)

- Director: George Stevens
- Metascore: 84
- Runtime: 201 minutes

This Western epic starred Rock Hudson as a Texas cattle rancher, Elizabeth Taylor as his wife, and James Dean as cowhand Jett Rink. It was Dean’s last movie role. The young actor had major roles in only three films before he was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1955, before “Giant” was released. George Stevens won an Oscar for best director.

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81 / 100
Evenstar Films

#20. Meek’s Cutoff (2011)

- Director: Kelly Reichardt
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 104 minutes

This Western survival film follows a group of settlers traveling across an Oregon desert. It becomes apparent that their guide has gotten them lost. The ensemble cast includes Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Shirley Henderson, and Neal Huff.

82 / 100
Warner Bros.

#19. Unforgiven (1992)

- Director: Clint Eastwood
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 131 minutes

Clint Eastwood directed, produced, and starred in this highly lauded Western. Eastwood plays William Munny, a retired bandit who takes on one final job in hopes of putting the money toward his failing farm. It won Oscars for best picture, best director, best supporting actor, and best fIlm editing.

83 / 100
Paramount Pictures

#18. El Dorado (1967)

- Director: Howard Hawks
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 126 minutes

John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and James Caan star in the story of a gunfighter and a sheriff caught up in a battle between rival ranchers over water. Hawks also directed such acclaimed films as “Scarface,” “His Girl Friday,” “To Have and Have Not,” “The Big Sleep,” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” A racist scene of Caan impersonating a Chinese man is often edited out of television rebroadcasts.

84 / 100
Doc Society

#17. Bisbee ’17 (2018)

- Director: Robert Greene
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 112 minutes

Robert Greene’s documentary centers on a town bordering Arizona and Mexico. The community grapples with its past by holding a reenactment of a day that occurred 100 years earlier when more than 1,000 immigrant miners were deported.

85 / 100
Focus Feature

#16. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

- Director: Ang Lee
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 134 minutes

Based on a short story by Annie Proulx, “Brokeback Mountain” follows the complicated romantic relationship between two cowboys over two decades. Stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, and Michelle Williams were all nominated for Academy Awards. The film failed to win the Oscar for Best Picture, leading to discussions on whether that decision was in part due to homophobia.

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86 / 100
Bunya Productions

#15. Sweet Country (2018)

- Director: Warwick Thornton
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 113 minutes

Set in the Australian outback, “Sweet Country” explores what happens when an Aboriginal farmer kills a white man in self-defense, and is forced to flee for his life. Warwick Thornton directs this Western that features Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, and Hamilton Morris.

87 / 100
Stanley Kramer Productions

#14. High Noon (1952)

- Director: Fred Zinnemann
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 85 minutes

Will Kane, played by Gary Cooper, faces a dilemma when outlaws threaten to kill him. His wife, played by Grace Kelly, wants him to leave town rather than defend himself. A number of U.S. presidents have listed “High Noon” as one of their favorite films.

88 / 100
Court 31 Productions

#13. Western (2015)

- Directors: Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 92 minutes

German construction workers start a project in the Bulgarian countryside where their differences from the locals quickly become apparent. Valeska Grisebach directed this film, and the entire cast was made up of non-professional actors.

89 / 100
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#12. The Yearling (1947)

- Director: Clarence Brown
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 128 minutes

Gregory Peck plays a Civil War veteran working on a Florida farm with his wife, played by Jane Wyman, and their son, played by Claude Jarman Jr., who adopts an orphaned fawn for companionship. Wyman, who was the first wife of former President Ronald Reagan, went on to star decades later in the prime-time television soap opera “Falcon Crest.”

90 / 100
Produzioni Europee Associate (PEA)

#11. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1967)

- Director: Sergio Leone
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 161 minutes

The epic spaghetti Western stars Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach as rough characters seeking Confederate gold. Italian director Sergio Leone did not speak English, and he had to use an interpreter to communicate with his English-speaking actors. The film is part of a trilogy with “A Fistful of Dollars” in 1964 and “For a Few Dollars More” in 1965.

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91 / 100
Paramount Vantage

#10. No Country for Old Men (2007)

- Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
- Metascore: 91
- Runtime: 122 minutes

Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin star in this Western, which begins when a botched drug deal is interrupted by a hunter. “No Country for Old Men” won the Academy Award for best picture, and Bardem won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, becoming the first Spanish actor to win an Oscar.

92 / 100
Caviar

#9. The Rider (2018)

- Director: Chloé Zhao
- Metascore: 92
- Runtime: 104 minutes

Chloe Zhao directed this Western drama, which centers on Brady Jandreau, a young man struggling to find his purpose after a brain injury halts his rodeo career. “The Rider” won the Art Cinema Award at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.

93 / 100
Armada Productions

#8. Rio Bravo (1959)

- Director: Howard Hawks
- Metascore: 93
- Runtime: 141 minutes

A sheriff played by John Wayne teams up with the town drunk, played by Dean Martin; an elderly deputy named Stumpy, played by Walter Brennan; and a young cowboy played by Ricky Nelson to help keep the murderous brother of a wealthy rancher in jail. Director Howard Hawks did not want Nelson in the movie and purposely kept his lines to a minimum, but later conceded that having the young teen idol in the cast added millions of dollars to its box-office draw.

94 / 100
Walter Wanger Productions

#7. Stagecoach (1939)

- Director: John Ford
- Metascore: 93
- Runtime: 96 minutes

The story of passengers on a stagecoach threatened by an Indian attack is the first starring role in a John Ford film by John Wayne, who had worked as an extra, a stuntman, and actor in other low-budget productions. Wayne wore his own cowboy hat, one that he would continue to wear in several Westerns until 1959 when it started falling apart.

95 / 100
David Foster Productions

#6. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

- Director: Robert Altman
- Metascore: 93
- Runtime: 120 minutes

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie play a gambler and a brothel owner who team up as business partners in a remote Western town that comes under threat for its mining riches. Director Robert Altman told the more than 50 extras to decide what local character they wanted to play, such as barber or bartender, choose their costumes, and inhabit that character for the three months of shooting near Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada.

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96 / 100
Twentieth Century Fox

#5. The Gunfighter (1950)

- Director: Henry King
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 85 minutes

Gregory Peck plays Jimmy Ringo, a gunfighter who runs into his estranged wife. Even though trouble seems to follow him everywhere, he hopes to convince her he has reformed, and win her back.

97 / 100
C.V. Whitney Pictures

#4. The Searchers (1956)

- Director: John Ford
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 119 minutes

John Wayne plays a Confederate Army veteran tracking down Comanche Indians who massacred his family, burned their ranch and kidnapped his young niece. John Ford insisted upon hiring American Indians to play the Comanche roles, although nearly all of the actors in those roles are Navajo, and the language, dress, and dances are Navajo as well.

98 / 100
John Ford Productions

#3. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

- Director: John Ford
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 123 minutes

When U.S. Senator Ranse Stoddard returns to the West to attend a funeral, he is forced to rehash his past, including the truth regarding the killing of an infamous outlaw. This black-and-white film was directed by John Ford and stars James Stewart, John Wayne, and Vera Miles.

99 / 100
Warner Bros./Seven Arts

#2. The Wild Bunch (1969)

- Director: Sam Peckinpah
- Metascore: 97
- Runtime: 135 minutes

William Holden and Ernest Borgnine play members of a gang heading to Mexico to do one final heist as the traditional America West is dying around them in the early 20th century. The movie used more than 90,000 rounds of blank ammunition, and Warner Bros. said in publicity material for the film that it was more ammunition than had been used in the Mexican Revolution.

100 / 100
Warner Bros.

#1. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

- Director: John Huston
- Metascore: 98
- Runtime: 126 minutes

Two penniless Americans—Fred Dobbs, played by Humphrey Bogart, and Bob Curtin, played by Tim Holt—go on a gold-prospecting trip, joined by an older prospector named Howard. Director John Huston won the Academy Award for best director, and his father Walter Huston, who played Howard, won the Academy Award for best supporting actor. Bogart was not nominated for playing Dobbs, which was considered a snub.

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