The Western is a staple of American culture. Full of vast landscapes and enthralling struggles against a once untamed region, the films embodied as many myths as they did truths about a bygone period. Over decades, the genre also created a host of movie stars whose very names became synonymous with larger-the-life figures. Still, change was inevitable as society not only evolved its tastes in entertainment but their perspectives on history. Movies representing the genre began to dwindle from the ’80s onward. Never quite content with dying out, the Western would come back with notable offerings like Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven and the Kurt Russell classic Tombstone.
Those few outstanding titles — along with the influence of TV series like Yellowstone — have kept these throwbacks going. Add streaming to the mix, and there’s never been an easier way to catch up on all things westward. Here are the best Westerns to watch on Hulu right now.
Updated on Feb. 1st, 2024 by Ben Hathaway: This article has been updated with additional content to keep the discussion fresh and relevant with even more information and new entries.
20 Mob Land (2023)
- Release Date
- August 4, 2023
- 1h 51m
Like many lower-budget Westerns from the 2010s and 2020s, Mob Land both shows its comparatively small budget and comes equipped with a surprising number of stars. The narrative follows two brothers who rob the local pill mill. Unfortunately for them, this attracts the attention of not only their sheriff uncle but the Dixie Mafia as well.
What Makes It an Underrated Western?
Mob Land isn’t high art nor will it ever win any Oscars. But, chunks of it are well-written, the setting is endearing, and it features John Travolta’s best performance in years. Kevin Dillon is also a scene-stealer as the brother who comes up with the scheme, but it’s Stephen Dorff who makes the biggest mark as the vicious (but, perhaps, not all the way vicious) Dixie enforcer Clayton Minor.
19 Tombstone (1993)
- Release Date
- December 25, 1993
- George P. Cosmatos
Even if Tombstone isn’t the greatest Western film ever made (and there’s a really strong argument for that being the case), it’s the most quotable one ever made. “I’m your Huckleberry” alone is quoted more frequently than anything from A Fistful of Dollars or A Few Dollars More (or, of course, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly). And then there’s the cast list, which is as star-studded as a studio-produced war picture.
What Makes It Arguably the Best Western?
Tombstone is a movie with style to spare. It also has convincing, intense shoot-outs and sublime pacing. But, the biggest win is the cast, especially when it comes to Val Kilmer’s work as Doc Holliday, which is one of the best performances of the 1990s.
18 Bone Tomahawk (2015)
The second Kurt Russell Western on this list, Bone Tomahawk is, suffice it to say, quite different from Tombstone. For one, there were no cannibals in Tombstone. Nor were there at least a dozen scenes that are legitimately shocking (and, yes, pretty gross). This Western finds Kurt Russell’s aging sheriff setting out to save a doctor from the aforementioned group of cannibals.
What Makes It a Surprising Western?
Bone Tomahawk is a great Western because not only does it function well within that genre, but it’s arguably an even better horror film. How many Western horror films are there? Even if Bone Tomahawk wasn’t as well-made and well-acted as it is, its risky narrative (neither cannibal films nor Westerns typically set the box office on fire) is certainly admirable. With impeccable direction from S. Craig Zahler, the godfather of violence, it’s a Western that packs a punch.
17 Get Low (2009)
Get Low is a western, but not the type that features blaring six-shooters. It’s a true story, not of Doc Holliday, but rather of Felix Breazeale, a man who loves nothing more than country-bound isolation. But, there’s at least some part of him that craves socialization, as he organizes a funeral for himself to learn what his peers think of him. How? He’s not actually going to be dead when the funeral takes place.
What Makes It a Unique Western?
Robert Duvall is such a perpetually lovely presence that it’s hard to dislike any character he plays. But Get Low makes his character as unlikable as any classic gunslinger. Which is to say he’s complicated, maybe even mean, but god help the viewer if they don’t have a soft spot for him.
16 Prey (2022)
- Release Date
- August 5, 2022
- Amber Midthunder , Dane DiLiegro , Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat , Dakota Beavers
Read Our ReviewIt took a while, but the Predator franchise finally got a second great film with Dan Trachtenberg’s Prey. What was the key? Don’t make the movie about the Yautja. Or bland soldier types. Here, we meet Nachu, a Comanche Nation warrior determined to protect her people from a horrifying and mysterious creature.
What Makes It an Atypical Western?
Prey is the story of a young Comanche woman’s growth more than it is a sci-fi actioner. That said, it features absolutely dynamite action scenes. The change in setting and time period (taking place 300 years ago) is incredibly advantageous when it comes not only to helping the prequel stand out from the pack but in terms of making it one of 2022’s most unforgettable films.
15 High Ground (2020)
Telling the story of a true historical event, High Ground follows a former World War I sniper named Travis who now works as a cop. After he loses control of an operation, a massacre ensues in which a group of Yolngu Aboriginal people are killed. Travis’s superiors try to cover up the event to his disgust, and this forces him to leave. He returns over a decade later when a new threat emerges and attacks against the native people start again. This time, Travis steps in to help. However, when his ties to the old massacre are revealed, suddenly, it’s Travis who is now seen as the enemy, and he becomes hunted himself.
What Makes It a Great Historical Western?
A story that brings to the fore the tragic nature of frontier conflict in Australia, High Ground was billed as a revisionist Western. One that’s buoyed greatly by the presence of Simon Baker. With a premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival, the film was acclaimed and holds an 89% critical rating.
14 How to Blow Up a Pipeline (2022)
A neo-western, How to Blow Up a Pipeline explores some very poignant modern themes and topics. Set primarily in Texas, it follows a militant group of climate activists who plot a way to blow up an oil pipeline. Given its setting, and the hotly contested nature of its subjects, the film delves into some touchy issues such as environmental activism versus environmental terrorism.
What Makes It a Great Neo-Western?
With a terrific young cast at its heart, it holds an impressive 94% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Based on nonfiction writing that advocates the destruction of property as a valid means of climate activism, the film showcases a reality we see play out every day. With incidents of climate protestors making the news for everything from destroying expensive pieces of art to disrupting major sporting events, the film also firmly holds a basis in reality as the debates rage on.
13 The World to Come (2020)
The World To Come
- Release Date
- February 12, 2021
- Mona Fastvold
- 1h 45m
Despite its Western setting, The World to Come tells a very different tale from most films typical of the genre. With Its world premiere at the 77th Venice International Film Festival, the film stars Katherine Waterson, Vanessa Kirby, and Casey Affleck. It deals with a couple who live an isolated country life as farmers dealing with their grief after the death of their daughter. When another childless couple moves in next to them, the women from each household, Abigail and Tallie, quickly form a deep friendship.
What Makes It a Great, Romantic Western?
Swapping stories of how their marriages have grown unhappy, they soon find comfort in each other and begin a romantic affair — their time together being noticed by their husbands who each grow increasingly jealous and hostile toward them. Telling a powerful tale, as a rare LGBT-themed western, the film has been praised for bravely taking on this mantle and was a critical success as a result. It’s not the easiest watch, but it’s a worthwhile one.
12 Hostile Territory (2022)
- Release Date
- April 22, 2022
- 1h 34m
The time periods depicted by Westerns were often infamous for the harshness of life back then. In a film that brought stark insight into how quickly children were forced to grow up during life after The Civil War, Hostile Territory told the tragic tale of a POW trying to return to his family. After enduring all manner of hardships to reach home, Jack Calgrove is devastated to find that his wife has died.
What Makes It Such a Sad Western?
Worse yet, his children have been presumed orphaned and been sent away on an orphan train. Teaming up with an eclectic group including another former soldier, a group of Native Americans, and an enslaved person, Calgrove desperately tries to intercept the train before it’s too late. Hostile Territory is notable for its cinematography and diverse cast.
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11 The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson (2021)
The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson is a revisionist Australian outback western. The narrative tells a powerful tale of grit and sheer determination. The film follows a woman who has to endure her harsh environment while forced to raise her children alone as her husband is away driving sheep.
What Makes It a Great Outback Western?
Featuring a great performance from Leah Purcell as Molly Johnson, the film provides a riveting reminder of how fierce and strong outback women from the period could be. The film debuted at various International Film Festivals and was critically acclaimed for its raw take on some very poignant themes. Western or otherwise, it’s one of 2021’s best.
10 True History of the Kelly Gang (2019)
Based on the 2000 novel of the same name, True History of the Kelly Gang tells the fictionalized tale of the Australian bushranger outlaw Ned Kelly and his gang as they flee authorities. Another Australian western, this one featured a fantastic cast that included George MacKay, Nicholas Hoult, Charlie Hunnam, and Russell Crowe. It’s also benefitted by swift pacing that never loses the viewer.
What Makes It a Great, Star-Studded Western?
The film had a world premiere at The Toronto International Film Festival and opened to positive reviews. With an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s been a critical success, and it’s easy to see why given its great performances and strong story. While True History of the Kelly Gang was very much overlooked at the time of release, its home on Hulu will allow it to find a whole host of new viewers.
9 Frontera (2014)
- Release Date
- July 31, 2014
- Michael Berry
A deeply thought-provoking neo-western evoking some very poignant issues faced by the modern world, Frontera centers on the tension surrounding a border town. When Miguel, an undocumented immigrant, crosses the border for work, he’s initially helped by a Sheriff’s wife. But, tragically, he’s later accused of killing her when she dies from a freak accident.
What Makes It a Great Western For the Modern Age?
The movie features the talents of Ed Harris, Eva Longoria, and Michael Peña, who all provided great performances. Dripping with the kind of tension that makes its subject matter such a delicate subject in modern discourse, the film painted a bleak picture of the immigration crisis from both sides of the debate. It was a pretty gutsy way to go for a relatively low-budget Western.
8 The Salvation (2014)
- Release Date
- May 22, 2014
- Kristian Levring
A Danish western, The Salvation starred Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in a gritty film set during the 1860s. It follows a Danish man named Jon who immigrates to the US and later brings his wife and son over as well. When they arrive, Jon, his wife, and his son board a stagecoach together to travel to his home. However, the coach is also transporting recently released ex-cons who soon take over, and throw Jon out, before mercilessly sexually assaulting and murdering his wife, and then killing his son too. Badly injured, Jon struggles to survive, all the while becoming a man hell-bent on revenge. However, in the process of getting it, he draws the wrath of a dangerous land baron connected to the convicts.
What Makes It a Great Revenge Western?
The Salvation is basically Death Wish with Charles Bronson in the Old West. Frankly, there was no actor who could make such a dry character organically deep (meaning Death Wish‘s protagonist) as Mikkelsen. It works as a moving drama and as a bloody, guns-blazin’ fight fest.
7 Savage State (2019)
The story of Savage State follows a French family who are forced to flee their Missouri home when the Civil War breaks out. Attempting to return to Paris, the family must traverse a dangerous cross-country journey to get there. They enlist the help of a mercenary, whose troubled past soon has the film dripping in some great tension.
What Makes It a Moving Western?
Something of a novelty as a French-made western, Savage State nevertheless garnered impressive critical reviews upon release. The film became an award-winning one with some unconventional Western characters that ended up working well for it. It won’t be a universal crowd-pleaser, but it’s an emotional tale of survival and family connection.
6 The Old Way (2023)
Nicolas Cage is as versatile an actor as they come. One minute he’s portraying a legendary bloodsucker in Renfield, and the next he’s taking on the role of a complex truffle hunter in Pig. The Old Way gives Cage a chance to try out the Western genre, something he’s not exactly known for. Revenge is at the center of the film as Cage’s character searches for those who killed his wife. He’s joined by a daughter, played by Ryan Kiera Armstrong, whose own feelings toward society carry over into their quest.
What Makes It a Great Nicolas Cage Film?
The Old Way came towards the tail end of Cage’s DTV period. And, like much of the remainder of those final DTV films, there was a surge in quality. Is it high art? No. Does it show its budget often? It does. But Cage is as faithful a presence as ever, and he sells quite a few of the film’s quieter scenes so well that it’s almost hard not to see this thing having received at least a limited theatrical release. But, as good as Cage is, young Armstrong is every bit as compelling.
5 Murder at Yellowstone City (2022)
Murder at Yellowstone City
- Release Date
- June 24, 2022
- 2h 7m
Murder at Yellowstone City features a title that might catch the eye of Yellowstone fans. While the film has nothing to do with the series, those who continue watching are treated to a distinctly Western mystery. The film sees a prospector murdered after a major discovery — many turn their ire towards a newcomer whose painful past only heightens their suspicions. It falls on another newcomer to help bring the true culprit to justice while battling against growing anger among community members.
What Makes It a Fun Western?
Underlying themes of acceptance, understanding, and fighting preconceived notions make this a selection going well beyond the standard fare. The film features a well-known cast, including Gabriel Byrne, Thomas Jane, Isaiah Mustafa, Anna Camp, Nat Wolff, and Richard Dreyfuss. Its low budget can show, but that’s hardly a dealbreaker with Westerns.
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4 The Last Son (2021)
The Last Son
- Release Date
- December 10, 2021
- Tim Sutton
- 1h 36m
Avatar star Sam Worthington enters the list with a fairly recent title. Instead of following the usual path for Westerns, The Last Son breaks away with something slightly supernatural in its story. It’s a jarring, twisty narrative with arguably the best work of Worthington’s underrated career.
What Makes It a Thrilling Western?
Worthington’s character is tasked with an unusual assignment: kill his children before they can murder him. He finds one remaining son who is more than capable of fulfilling the morbid destiny. Murder at Yellowstone City star Thomas Jane makes another appearance on the list with this surprising film.
3 Brimstone (2016)
A young mother faces danger after the arrival of a suspicious figure. The film brings together a talented cast to tell this difficult tale. Dakota Fanning leads the talented performers; Guy Pearce, Emilia Jones, and Kit Harington also star.
What Makes It an Experimental Western?
While other films would assume a chronological approach to their plot, Brimstone utilizes a different approach. Its story is divided into four distinct acts, each one crucial to understanding this complicated narrative. First-time viewers should watch it from beginning to end. After that, those seeking a different perspective can try looking at them from a chronological perspective.
2 Forsaken (2015)
- Release Date
- February 19, 2015
- Jon Cassar
- 1h 30m
Forsaken brings in one of the Western’s most used themes, religion. A reverend sees his son return at a difficult time; anyone who owns the land is being pushed to give up their property, and the efforts become increasingly violent. They must put aside their differences to save what’s left of a demanding life. The film marks an onscreen reunion for a major acting family as Donald Sutherland and Kiefer Sutherland play the father and son, respectively.
What Makes It a Great Father-Son Western?
Individually, these talented actors have been a part of renowned works, with the younger Sutherland leading Fox’s 24. Forsaken offers yet another connection to the series through director Jon Cassar — the multi-hyphenate helmed episodes of 24 in addition to producing. The duo is far from the only icons to appear in Forsaken. Brian Cox stars as the gang leader and villainous owner intent on controlling the community. The actor would go on to bring one of TV’s most dynamic characters to life as Logan Roy on HBO’s Succession.
1 The Last Victim (2021)
Westerns can function in any period, something already shown by the list’s Hell or High Water. This time, the drama The Last Victim revolves around a ruthless gang with no limits; their spree doesn’t go unnoticed, and soon they are followed by a Sheriff intent on bringing them to justice. The plot thickens when an unsuspecting witness finds herself in the middle of it all. It soon becomes a race to bring the gang to justice before they can silence the woman.
What Makes It a Great Modern Western?
Ron Perlman heads up the cast as the determined lawman. The Hellboy actor’s presence is put to good use here as he creates a character that any outlaw would dread. Also, look for Heroes star Ali Larter in the role of a tormented eyewitness. Outside of Westerns, Larter has made a name for herself with horror — her most notable role being Clear Rivers in the Final Destination film series.
You can check out our picks for the top five Western movies of all time in the video below: