Saddle up compadres, cuz Netflix has the most rootin’-tootin’ gunslingers this side of the Rio Grande. (I apologize for that, but I had to get it out of my system. I’m done, promise.) While westerns have proven to be one of the most enduring genres in film, the focus of this list is on the best westerns currently available on Netflix for streaming. (I hope you like Clint Eastwood, because his movies are 60% of the list.)
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly 4 stars out of 2,223,561 ratings.
The third film in Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy, the movie’s musical score became just as iconic as Clint Eastwood’s squint and contributed to it becoming one of the most parodied films in pop culture. Perhaps the greatest western ever made, its central character, the man with no name must compete with a Mexican bandit and ruthless hit man for buried Confederate gold. Rotten Tomatoes 97, IMDB 9.0
Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid 4 stars out of 2,233,227 ratings.
It’s kind of a general rule that westerns take place in the American Southwest, (the Australian Outback can provide a suitable change of locale) but Butch Cassidy dodges this bullet and still succeeds as a fun western that never takes itself too seriously. In order to evade justice, train robbers Butch and Sundance flee to Bolivia in search of greener criminal pastures. Paul Newman and Robert Redford have great comedic chemistry, and in 2003 the movie was entered into the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Rotten Tomatoes 93, IMDB 8.2
Lonesome Dove 4.1 stars out of 1,136,608 ratings.
Based on Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the mini-series with Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones follows a pair of former Texas Rangers who decide to move a herd of cattle up to Montana. The mini-series boasts an all-star supporting cast with Danny Glover, Anjelica Huston, Barry Corbin, and Steve Buscemi, and won an impressive seven Emmy Awards in 1989. IMDB 8.9
Dances With Wolves 3.9 stars out of 4,444,538 ratings.
Not the typical western as it’s absent of cowboys and train-robbing bandits, Kevin Costner’s 1990 western epic follows a Union Army officer who rejects society to live on the American frontier and befriend a group of Sioux Indians. The movie’s buffalo hunting sequences are incredible to watch and garnered the movie an Oscar for “Best Cinematography”, in addition to its six other Academy Award wins. Rotten Tomatoes 87, IMDB 8.0
Hell On Wheels 4.3 stars out of 908,792 ratings.
Hell On Wheels is never going to pull as wide an audience as AMC’s other darlings, but the series’ diverse mix of characters and cutthroat action make it worthy of a Netflix binge. Former Confederate soldier and slave owner Cullen Bohannon tracks the group of Union soldiers responsible for his murdered his wife in the midst of America’s post-Civil War railroad expansion. IMDB 8.3
A Fistful Of Dollars 3.9 stars out of 901,138 ratings.
Why Netflix doesn’t have the full Dollars trilogy available for streaming is a frustrating mystery, but we can start at the beginning with A Fistful Of Dollars. The story of the man with no name working as a hired gun for two rival gangs in a small town kicked off the spaghetti western sub-genre, and was released in Italy a surprising three years before coming to the States in 1967. Rotten Tomatoes 91, IMDB 8.1