The ultimate guide on what to watch on Netflix: Western edition
Looking for some much needed guidance on what to watch next on Netflix? Come on, pilgrim – there’s more choice than you might realize from all the endless scrolling you no doubt find yourself doing on there every time you want to kick back and stream something.
If you’re a fan of Westerns then Netflix actually has an unexpectedly diverse and terrific selection currently available to stream that you need to add to your watchlist immediately. Of course, there are also a fair few that you definitely need to avoid. We’re here to help you on both points.
These nineteen movies represent the best (and worst) that Netflix currently has to offer when it comes to TV shows and movies of the Western genre. You’ll find modern takes on the genre along with mashups, misfires, and true storytelling marvels worth knowing about.
With that in mind, here are the nineteen best (and worst) Westerns on Netflix worth knowing about.
6 Guns (2010)
This low budget Western boasts the sort of faint hearted lady characters who complain they’re too weak to even lift the crock pot on their own (we’re not kidding, this is a legit line) and is one only for recommendation to diehard Western fans who don’t particularly care either way.
David Michael Latt and Shane Van Dyke’s movie follows a young girl who convinces a bounty hunter to train her as a gunfighter after her family is gunned down in cold blood.
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)
Listen, this movie might not be a straight up Western but it is our childhood and we can’t leave it off the list. The sequel to the 1986 animated classic sees the Mousekewitz family settling into their new life in America and trying to make peace with their old enemies – cats.
It’s still gloriously batshit, ludicrously emotional, and the Western homages are actually terrific.
The Bad Batch (2017)
Ana Lily Amirpour’s chaotic genre mashup fuses a post-apocalyptic dystopia with a classic Western, which should be awesome but sadly is a little underwhelming.
The film lacks momentum and plot and gets lost in self-indulgence. On the upside of things, it looks great and it stars a standout cast including Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, and Jason Momoa.
Casa de mi Padre (2012)
Will Ferrell leads this Spanish-language comedy alongside Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal, and Nick Offerman. The writing is a little lightweight, as is the plot that revolves around an accidental triggering of a war against Mexico’s most feared drug lord.
The components are all there for this to be a great film, but overall it plays out like an overstretched premise that gets tired less than a third of the way in. It should be funny, but it misses the mark on a number of jokes. Still, it’s worth a punt.
Cold in July (2014)
Based on the story by Joe R. Lansdale, Jim Mickle’s adaptation has some distinctive Western DNA to it while also settling its tone somewhere between 80s crime thriller and modern neo-noir.
The result is a powerhouse of a film that never lets the audience get ahead of the plot. Relentless for its violence and unrepentant tension, Cold in July is a unique story of vengeance that plays out beside a surprising criminal investigation.
This masterclass in suspense is anchored by standout performances from Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, Wyatt Russell, and Don Johnson. It’s a must-see.
Cold Mountain (2003)
It doesn’t get much more Oscar-baiting than this (unsurprisingly) Academy Award nominated Civil War epic starring Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, and Jude Law.
Anthony Minghella’s romantic Western offers up a lavish love story full of ambition, but ultimately it’s a bit of a dry dirge.
Dead Man’s Burden (2013)
Jared Moshe’s simple yet elegant Western sees a man (Barlow Jacobs) presumed dead in the Civil War returning to his homestead where he opposes his sister’s (Clare Bowen) plans to sell off the family land to a mining company. Naturally, high tensions and violent clashes ensue.
The film has the look and feel of a traditional Western and offers plenty of throwbacks to classic movies from the genre that fans will love. The film does a great deal with a simple premise and a diminutive scale and is packed full of enjoyable thrills.
Frontier (2016 – 2017)
Centered around the power struggles and all-consuming greed surrounding the North American fur trade, this Western show from Rob Blackie and Peter Blackie stars Jason Momoa and Landon Liboiron as two dudes on opposite sides of a violent terrain.
If you like your Westerns as violent and mindless as possible, you’ll absolutely love this show which is action-packed and gory as hell. Frontier is an entertaining snack of a show which lacks substance but is big on bingeability.
It’s easy to see how a zombie Western could provide a deliciously compelling setup for a movie, but sadly Gallowwalkers misses the mark entirely.
Andrew Goth’s gunman vs. zombies film stars Wesley Snipes as a dude fighting off hordes of zombies and the film fights off our entertainment in the process. It’s dreadful in every possible way.
However, it does make for a fun viewing if you’re one of those sadists who gets a kick out of truly awful movies, which is the best we can say for it.
Godless sees a ruthless outlaw (Jack O’Connell) taking solace in a town populated solely by women after a train heist gone wrong and it might be one of the most perfect miniseries we’ve ever seen.
The female-driven ensemble (led by Michelle Dockery) is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise male-dominated genre, yet it isn’t just an exercise in diversity.
The storyline has depth and reason to it and showcases a slow burn of high tension, lyrical ecstasy, and understated character development. It’s an absolute marvel.
The Hateful Eight (2015)
More a film for diehard fans of Quentin Tarantino than for diehard fans of Westerns, The Hateful Eight is a by-numbers romp through the Wild West of the filmmaker’s own visual and narrative tropes.
Tim Roth, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kurt Russell all reunite with the filmmaker for the movie, with Walton Goggins and Jennifer Jason Leigh providing standout performances.
The problem is the film is infuriatingly self-indulgent, with a bloodbath of a third act playing out exactly how you expect it to – but sadly not as quick as you want it to. Make it more interesting by playing a “Tarantino cliches drinking game” while you watch it. You’ll be shitfaced in no time.
Rosamund Pike, Christian Bale, Wes Studi, and Jesse Plemons star in Scott Cooper’s story of a trio of outsiders joining forces to survive a punishing landscape and set of savage enemies on a perilous journey to the grasslands of Montana.
The film is absolutely stunning to look at, even if the story and dialogue lack the same level of grace. However, the chaotic and often brutal turns of the story reveal a gripping and sensitive film worth sticking with.
Longmire (2012 – )
A modern-day Western show with a police procedural twist, Longmire is one of those hidden gems you won’t believe you haven’t seen (or possibly even heard of) once you started bingewatching it.
Starring Robert Taylor as a Wyoming sheriff trying to move on from his wife’s death, the show is utterly charming, completely rewarding, and features a capturing pace that’s sure to keep you hitting the “next episode” button.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
The Coen Brothers work their usual magic in new and surprising ways with this neo-Western that chews up the rulebook of the genre to taut and darkly comedic effect.
Based on Cormac McCarthy’s equally droll novel of the same name, the film is bolstered by outstanding performances from Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin and presents a world where heroes and villains don’t always meet their expected ending.
The Ridiculous 6 (2015)
The only good thing we can say about Adam Sandler’s wildly offensive insult to our funny bone is that it stars our boy Terry Crews. His talents are completely wasted, though – just as your time will be if you bother with this film.
The movie serves up an entire platter of jokes made up of the spoils from just about every low-hanging fruit possible and it’s just as gross and unsophisticated as that slop of a cinematic meal sounds.
The Salvation (2015)
You need to see Kristian Levring’s intense tale of revenge if nothing else but for Mads Mikkelsen’s extraordinary performance as a man laying waste to the monsters who killed his wife and son.
The movie might tread on every square foot of familiar territory there is for a Western to be built upon and yet this white-knuckle blast of fury does something fresh with a familiar premise. The movie is a raucous saga of atonement with a bloody reckoning at the heart of it.
Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, and Scott Glenn star in this classic Western about a pack of misfit cowboys seeking their fortunes while settling some unfinished business with some very bad men.
It’s an enjoyable, traditional Western with a lot of personality that manages to maintain its own vision, even while whipping out every cliche possible. Still, it’s a great bit of fun and makes for exuberant, easy viewing.
Slow West (2015)
First time filmmaker John M. Maclean provides an inventive twist on the traditional Western and brings Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Mendelsohn, and Brooke Williams along for the ride.
It’s an old-school story about a treacherous frontier journey told in a distinctly new and modern way, with genre-defying twists and turns keeping the audience on their toes.
Smart and dreamy, the movie takes its time to build up to a truly stunning yet nihilistic finale and it’s an unusual treat the whole way through.
Young Guns (1988)
It’s a movie so rockin’ that it boasts an entire soundtrack album of music written by walking mullet Jon Bon Jovi! How could you resist?
Young Guns is 80s cinematic silliness at peak volumes, with a cast that includes Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, and your childhood boyfriend Kiefer Sutherland slinging guns round their fingers like a set of flashy car keys they’re desperate to bring attention to.
If you can’t see exactly how that would be an absolute hoot, you’re probably best just avoiding this playful little number. Otherwise, get “the boys” round, chill some cold ones, and stream the hell out of this bad boy in a blaze of glory.