Netflix's best Western's include The Hateful Eight and The Power of the Dog.
Netflix has some of the best movies available to stream, and there’s nothing more Hollywood than a great Western; from Russell Crowe to Kurt Russell, these are the best of the best on the streaming service. Despite popular belief, some incredible Western movies have been released in the past 15 years, and most of them are streaming on Netflix.
The Quick And The Dead (1995)
The Quick and the Dead on Netflix flips the usual Western script by featuring Sharon Stone as “The Lady,” a gunslinger out for revenge against Gene Hackman‘s Herod, a corrupt town official. Herod announced a quick-draw competition, which drew the interest of The Lady, and provided a different type of backdrop than the typical Western revenge movie.
Viewers today who catch the film on Netflix will be amazed by the nontraditional Western’s star-studded cast, featuring appearances from Bruce Campbell, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobin Bell, Keith David, Lance Henriksen, and Gary Sinise. Though it has a 58 percent rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, The Quick and the Dead is still worth watching for those that want their classic tropes turned slightly on their head.
Those interested will have to move quickly, as the film is leaving Netflix on June 1, leaving the service with one less acclaimed Western.
Legends Of The Fall (1994)
Featuring one of Brad Pitt‘s first starring roles, Legends of the Fall is unique among the rest of Netflix’s Western line-up after the wild west settlement during the First World War and beyond. The family drama of the Ludlow clan, led by Colonel William Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins) and including Tristan (Pitt), Alfred (Aidan Quinn), and Samuel (Henry Thomas), would appeal to those that follow the Dutton family ranch on Yellowstone.
The three brothers go off to fight in the World War, and not all of them make it back, leading fiancee to wander, the family to split, and a crime organization to butt up against the Ludlows. Netflix has plenty of modern crime dramas, from Ozark to Bloodline, but this Western hits the same beats just a century earlier.
With one of Brad Pitt’s best performances, Legends of the Fall isn’t a traditional western, but for fans of the more recent neo-noir subgenre, it’s worth spending a few hours with the Ludlow boys.
The Power Of The Dog (2021)
The Power of the Dog is the most recent Netflix Western movie to be on this list, and one of the most acclaimed, winning the Academy Award for Best Director while being nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), and a pair of Support Actor nods for both Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee. A quieter and softer movie than most Westerns, the film centers around Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and her son, Peter (Smit-McPhee), and their working relationship with the Burbank brothers (Cumberbatch and Plemons),
Quiet and contemplative, the pace of the film is slow and lingering, focusing on the bubbling resentment beneath the surface of the characters until it boils over in an action that can’t be taken back. A Netflix original film, The Power of the Dog is unlike any other Western, dropping gun fights for raw emotion. It’s the characters, and not the action, that drive the plot forward.
The Harder They Fall (2021)
The Harder They Fall stands out on Netflix by being the rare Western with a mostly-black cast, including Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakith Stanfield, and Edi Gathegi. Majors is Nat Love, a young man that lost his parents to Idris Elba’s Rufus Buck, setting off a fairly by the numbers Western elevated by the cast and how well it plays with the familiar tropes. There’s a standoff, a bank heist, well-timed dynamite, and characters that aren’t who they claim to be.
This Netflix Western movie hits familiar beats, but that doesn’t make it bad, in fact, it’s a classic tale worth revisiting over and over through the years. The Harder They Fall is the closest entry on this list to a traditional Western, and well worth checking out, if only to see Jonathan Majors just before he broke out in Creed 3.
The Hateful Eight (2015)
Quentin Tarantino‘s second western, The Hateful Eight, was originally a sequel to Django but changed to a novelization and then, finally, a standalone film. Another of Netflix’s star-studded Westerns features Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Demian Bichir, and Bruce Dern, The Hateful Eight is centered on one location during a snowstorm and features Tarantino’s usual rising tension with the constant threat of violence.
Violence and revelations come, bringing the story to a close in a bout of bloodshed, but it’s the journey to get there that makes it one of the best of Netflix’s Western films. It wasn’t a massive blockbuster success, competing against Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but it’s gained a cult following in the years since, and as with all of Tarantino’s films, it’s worth watching at least once.