Top Western Movies

Country music and Western films are connected at the hip.  Not only does the musical style make up the soundtrack of a lot of them, but the popularity of the films actually helped the evolution of country music when it was much younger.  There are so many good cowboy films out there it’s very hard to choose, but here are some of our favorite top rated western movies.

Note: These all scored a 90% or higher rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

1) Once Upon a Time in The West

  • Release Year: 1969
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Another older flick that dates back to 1968, the genre of this film is described as an ‘epic spaghetti western film.’ While the movie does move a bit slow, it’s very stylish and artsy which is not common among many top western movies. This was also directed by the infamous Sergio Leone. This movie is about blood, revenge, and the American frontier.

2) The Searchers

  • Release Year: 1956
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

The only one on the list to receive a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, this film is considered to be one of the most influential ever made in the western genre. Starring the classic John Wayne, this masterpiece outlines a story about a soldier returning home to Texas after the Civil War. The Commanche Indians reside in Texas during this time and John Wayne goes searching for his missing niece in their dangerous territory.

Film Western Movie

3) The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  • Release Year: 1976
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

This 1966 hit starring Clint Eastwood was one of the popular Spaghetti Westerns directed by Sergio Leone.  It was part of a trilogy made by this director, but is often regarded as the best in the series.  The story followed three rough guys searching for hidden gold in the middle of the Civil War, so there was plenty of chances for them to show their tough sides.  It really stood out for the strong tension, tasteful violence, and quality gunfights.

There were hundreds of Westerns made in Europe between the 60s and the 80s, and Italy was really a hotspot for them.  Interestingly enough, they often used multilingual casts, and they did all of the sound in post-production.  This made it easy for them to release each film in multiple languages at nearly the same time.

4) True Grit

  • Release Year: 2010
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

No list of Western films would be complete without an appearance by the Duke, so why not choose the one where he won the Academy Award for Best Actor?  The film is based off a novel written in 1968, and John Wayne plays a U.S. Marshal who has what it takes to track a bad guy across some unforgiving territory.

Best Cowboy Films

5) Unforgiven

  • Release Year: 1992
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

This was another cowboy film in the long career of Clint Eastwood, and this time he plays an outlaw who comes out of a peaceful farming retirement to go back to the rough life of his youth.  The 1992 film had a much darker theme than most Westerns, and it tried to step away from the standard style of romanticizing the violence of the Old West.  Eastwood even declared it would be his last Western because he feared any more would require him to repeat a role he had already played.

6) High Noon

  • Release Year: 1952
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

This one is a bit older as it dates back to 1952.  The plot basically follows a lawman who wants to retire to an easy life, but some recently free bandits decide they have other plans for him.  With no one to help, he falls into the lone gunslinger role, and, well, you can guess the rest.

Western Cowboy Country

7) The Wild Bunch

  • Release Year: 1969
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

This film made in 1969 followed an outlaw gang on the border of Texas and Mexico.  The major problem they faced was that it took place in 1913, and the Old West was becoming a thing of the past.  The filmmakers received a whole slew of awards for the movie, and it was filmed in a revolutionary way for the time.  Fast cuts in the edits gave way to multiple angles, and it came to life with a mixture of normal and slow motion images.

8) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

  • Release Year: 1969
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Paul Newman and Robert Redford inspired many duos to daydream of living the bandit life with this 1969 movie.  It’s made even more exciting when you know that it was based loosely off of real life, and the gang even made their way to Bolivia while running from the law.

Best Western Movies

9) The Outlaw Josey Wales

  • Release Year: 1976
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Another post civil war film, Clint Eastwood produces and stars in this top rated western movie. Josey Wales played by Mr. Eastwood plays witness to the murder of his wife and children and joins the confederate army to seek revenge!

10) Slow West

  • Release Year: 2015
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

A more modern film with a classic theme, Slow West is about a bounty hunter with a secret. It’s set in 1800s Colorado and the first western film directed by British/New Zealand director John Maclean.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply