For more than a century, Westerns have been the most popular film genre in Hollywood, but that is about to change. A real survivor, the Western is, after all, like an aged gunslinger nurturing revenge fantasies. It seems as if these stories of frontier communities and brave horsemen have undergone numerous revisions throughout the years (alongside the straightforward genre films that never went away). One of Jeymes Samuel’s most eagerly awaited films, The Harder They Fall, has a historically accurate all-Black outlaw band and an impressive ensemble cast that includes Oscar winner Regina King, as well as Idris Elba and Lakeith Stanfield candidates.
After seeing The Harder They Fall, you may be eager to see what other Westerns are available on Netflix. Here are Netflix’s top 15 Westerns, ranging from Oscar nominees to obscure indie films about cowboys.
Movies about the Old West on Netflix
1. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
Anthology Western by Joel and Ethan Coen is one of the best films of the year. An eerie stagecoach voyage, an unexpected romance on the Oregon Trail, and the strange musical of the title are among the six short films that make up this collection of six films.
2. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
This is Clint Eastwood’s first truly outstanding directorial effort and it’s one of the most complex vengeance thrillers I’ve seen in a long time. Eastwood plays a Civil War-era farmer who becomes a guerilla soldier to avenge the murder of his family, drawing on the lone-wolf cowboy roles that made him famous.
3. Rango (2011)
For adults who are more familiar with pop culture than youngsters, Gore Verbinski’s animated comedy is a delightful surprise.
The pet chameleon of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas star Johnny Depp gets lost in the desert, creating an existential crisis and thrusting him into the plot of a classic Western. They’ll laugh at references to Sergio Leone, Don Knotts, and more.
4. Django Unchained (2012)
Quentin Tarantino’s contentious Best Picture candidate is a violent, delightfully anachronistic thrill trip that borrows from both the spaghetti westerns of the 1960s and the blaxploitation cinema of the 1970s.
To avenge his wife’s kidnapping, a former slave (Jamie Foxx) partners up with a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to rescue her from a vicious plantation owner (Kerry Washington) (Leonardo DiCaprio).
5. Dances With Wolves (1990)
One can wonder if Kevin Costner was the right choice to write and direct a Civil War-era picture about a Native American tribe, or why a film about the Sioux tribe focused on a white hero (Costner) and love interest (Mary McDonnell). In spite of its flaws, Dances with Wolves stands as one of only four Westerns to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. McDonnell, Graham Greene, and Rodney A. Grant, in particular, shine.
6. Concrete Cowboy (2021)
Neo-Western “Black Horseback Riding in Philadelphia” tells the unforgettable story of a father (Idris Elba) who brings his estranged teenage son (Caleb McLaughlin of Stranger Things) into the urban riding scene in an attempt to rekindle his relationship with his son.
7. The Beguiled (2017)
Several classic Westerns are set during the American Civil War.
By shifting the focus away from soldiers and onto abandoned women who must protect their own frontier, Sofia Coppola’s underappreciated drama focuses on an isolated Southern girls’ school where the teachers (Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst) and students (including Elle Fanning), find their isolated world turned upside down by the appearance of a wounded soldier (Colin Farrell).
8. The Wind (2019)
Emma Tammi’s atmospheric, female-centric horror film is based on “Prairie Madness,” an epidemic of mental disease among the initial Western settlers.
Caitlin Gerard (American Crime) and Julia Goldani Telles (The Affair) portray frontier women on the New Mexico plains, where the incessant howl of the wind conceals something much more deadly..
9. In a Valley of Violence (2016)
In Ti West’s lean, darkly hilarious genre film, don’t get too connected to the dog.
Cowboy actor Ethan Hawke, who was born to play the role of a cowboy, stars in this gory one-horse town fight.
10. The Long Riders (1980)
James and Stacy Keach; Dennis and Randy Quaid; Christopher and Nicholas Guest; David, Keith, and Robert Carradine; and David, Keith, and Robert Carradine are four sets of real-life brothers who play the Jesse James gang’s four real-life brothers in Walter Hill’s film.
11. There Will Be Blood (2007)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s breathtaking frontier epic, about a ruthless oil man (Daniel Day-Lewis) and the young preacher who tries to save his soul (Paul Dano), shows the influence of classic Western tragedies like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Giant, which were named the best film of the 21st century by The Guardian.
12. The Ballad of Lefty Brown (2017)
As a result of the tragic death of his longtime colleague, an elderly, soft-spoken police officer (played to perfection by Bill Pullman) is thrust into the role of a hero. Director Jared Moshe throws a curveball to Lefty as he seeks to find the assassin: he’s accused of committing the crime himself.
13. Free State of Jones (2016)
Matthew McConaughey stars as a disillusioned Confederate soldier who joins forces with a group of escaped slaves to declare an independent state on the territory they inhabit. The film is based on an incredible true story. The 1860s are predominantly depicted in the film, although the ramifications of these events continue into the 1940s.
14. Badland (2019)
With Kevin Makely as the Pinkerton investigator hired by one of the first African-American senators to track down the aged Confederate war criminals, Justin Lee’s fascinating Western takes us on a ride. An amazing cast includes Mira Sorvino and country musician Trace Adkins in each “chapter” of the movie.
15. Hold the Dark (2018)
An Alaskan community in Hold the Dark, where an animal specialist (Jeffrey Wright) has been summoned to track down a kidnapped wolf, is haunted by the ghosts of those who perished there. A town’s mysteries deepen and get more violent as he stays in it longer.