The Best Western Movies of All Time, According to Critics and Audiences

We've used Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and IMDb reviews to score each movie out of 300 and sort the good from the bad and the ugly. Newsweek

The Western movie is as old as cinema itself—gun-toting, horseback-riding heroes can be found as far back as the early silent era. The genre is so entwined with Hollywood that the first ever feature film, 1903’s The Great Train Robbery, was a Western.

Yet even back then, the real-life frontier had long disappeared. Lawless plains where cowboys and Native Americans skirmished, and pioneers battled harsh conditions to seek their fortunes in the great unknown, had already been tamed.

This primal moment of early European-American history was turned into mythical storytelling, first through novels, and then through cinema.

Read more: All of Clint Eastwood’s movies ranked from worst to best

The Western was a constant presence in cinemas throughout the first half of the 20th century, peaking in the 1950s when Westerns outnumbered every other genre combined. That decade was the genre’s Golden Age, when psychological themes entered the fray, upending the simple good vs evil dynamic which had come before.

The 1954 Nicholas Ray classic Johnny Guitar saw Joan Crawford play a strong-willed saloonkeeper. Although it wasn’t a hit at the time, it was later hugely influential for European filmmakers, and described as "an intense, unconventional, stylized picture, full of ambiguities and subtexts" by Martin Scorsese.

The Western continued with gusto throughout the 1960s, thanks to Hollywood classics like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and so-called 'Spaghetti Westerns' such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and Once Upon a Time in the West. But the rise of youth culture and changing tastes meant that the Western dropped out of favor during the 1980s and 90s.

However, recent years have seen a resurgence in the genre. Brokeback Mountain, which was released in 2005 and starred Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger as cowboy lovers, proved that the Western still had new frontiers to explore. But it was the Coen brothers' wildly successful 2007 movie No Country for Old Men—and their celebrated remake of True Grit—which helped catapult the Western back into popular consciousness.

In order to qualify for our list, films have to be listed at review aggregation sites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic and receive a sufficient number of user reviews on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). By combining these ratings, we’ve given each movie a score out of 300, thus sorting the good from the bad and the ugly.

01 Tombstone
50. Tombstone (1993). Total score: 201. Metacritic: 50. Rotten Tomatoes: 73. IMDb users: 7.8. Directed by: George P. Cosmatos, Kevin Jarre. Starring: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott.
A successful lawman's plans to retire anonymously in Tombstone, Arizona, are disrupted by the kind of outlaws he was famous for eliminating.
Buena Vista Pictures
02 In a Valley of Violence

49. In a Valley of Violence (2016). Total score: 201. Metacritic: 64. Rotten Tomatoes: 77. IMDb users: 6.0. Directed by: Ti West. Starring: Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Taissa Farmiga.
A mysterious stranger and a random act of violence drag a town of misfits and nitwits into the bloody crosshairs of revenge.

Focus World
03 Back To The Future Part III

48. Back to the Future Part III (1990). Total score: 203. Metacritic: 55. Rotten Tomatoes: 74. IMDb users: 7.4. Directed by: Robert Zemeckis. Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen.
Enjoying a peaceable existence in 1885, Doctor Emmet Brown is about to be killed by Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen. Marty McFly travels back in time to save his friend.

Universal Pictures
04 Blackthorn
47. Blackthorn (2011). Total score: 203. Metacritic: 61. Rotten Tomatoes: 76. IMDb users: 6.6. Directed by: Mateo Gil. Starring: Sam Shepard, Eduardo Noriega, Stephen Rea.
In Bolivia, Butch Cassidy (now calling himself James Blackthorn) pines for one last sight of home, an adventure that aligns him with a young robber and makes the duo a target for gangs and lawmen alike.
Magnolia Pictures
05 The Salvation
46. The Salvation (2014). Total score: 203. Metacritic: 64. Rotten Tomatoes: 72. IMDb users: 6.7. Directed by: Kristian Levring. Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
In 1870s America, the fury of a notorious gang leader is unleashed when a peaceful American settler avenges the death of his family. Then as his cowardly fellow townspeople betray him, he is forced to hunt down the outlaws alone.
IFC Films
06 The Horse Whisperer
45. The Horse Whisperer (1998). Total score: 205. Metacritic: 65. Rotten Tomatoes: 74. IMDb users: 6.6. Directed by: Robert Redford. Starring: Robert Redford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Neill.
The mother of a severely traumatized daughter enlists the aid of a unique horse trainer to help the girl's equally injured horse.
Touchstone Pictures
07 Appaloosa
44. Appaloosa (2008). Total score: 207. Metacritic: 64. Rotten Tomatoes: 76. IMDb users: 6.7. Directed by: Ed Harris. Starring: Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Renée Zellweger.
Two friends hired to police a small town that is suffering under the rule of a rancher find their job complicated by the arrival of a young widow.
Warner Bros.
08 Hostiles
43. Hostiles (2017). Total score: 208. Metacritic: 65. Rotten Tomatoes: 71. IMDb users: 7.2. Directed by: Scott Cooper. Starring: Scott Shepherd, Rosamund Pike, Christian Bale
In 1892, a legendary Army Captain reluctantly agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief and his family through dangerous territory.
Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures
09 The Mask of Zorro
42. The Mask of Zorro (1998). Total score: 211. Metacritic: 63. Rotten Tomatoes: 81. IMDb users: 6.7. Directed by: Martin Campbell. Starring: Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones.
A young thief, seeking revenge for the death of his brother, is trained by the once great, but aged Zorro, who also pursues vengeance of his own.
TriStar Pictures
10 Dead Man
41. Dead Man (1996). Total score: 213. Metacritic: 62. Rotten Tomatoes: 74. IMDb users: 7.7. Directed by: Jim Jarmusch. Starring: Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Crispin Glover.
On the run after murdering a man, accountant William Blake encounters a strange North American man named Nobody who prepares him for his journey into the spiritual world.
11 The Homesman
40. The Homesman (2014). Total score: 215. Metacritic: 68. Rotten Tomatoes: 81. IMDb users: 6.6. Directed by: Tommy Lee Jones. Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Grace Gummer.
Three women who have been driven mad by pioneer life are to be transported across the country by covered wagon by the pious, independent-minded Mary Bee Cuddy, who in turn employs low-life drifter George Briggs to assist her.
Roadside Attractions