The Best Clint Eastwood Movies, Ranked

By Rick Gonzales | Published

clint eastwood movie

Best Clint Eastwood Movies

Screen legend Clint Eastwood has made a living in front of and behind the camera as one of the most prolific actors and directors to ever hit Hollywood. His legendary status goes back to his spaghetti western days with one memorable film after another and iconic characters like The Man with No Name, Dirty Harry Callahan, and even Philo Beddoe.

But Clint Eastwood is more than just a character name. He has obviously shown the propensity to play the tough guy. But in other films like The Bridges of Madison County and Trouble with the Curve, he has shown a softer touch. The films below are Clint’s 10 best acting roles, ranked. It’s one of the best lists you’ll see.

10. Gran Torino (2008)

Clint Eastwood does the “get off my lawn” bit well here in one of his rare acting performances of the 2000s. In Gran Torino, he plays Walt Kowalski, a widowed aging Korean War vet who comes, begrudgingly, to the aid of his Hmong neighbors as they are being threatened by a Hmong gang. The cat and mouse that follows between Walt and the gang is typical Clint, though he does eventually show his delicate side toward his neighbors.

9. Pale Rider (1985)

After years of a virtual absence from the big screen, Clint Eastwood brings back the Western genre in a big way. The film’s title, referring to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, has Clint Eastwood arriving as the Preacher, representing Death. Here he comes to a small mining camp as their savior from a vicious mining baron, who wants everything the miners have and plans to take it with force. Only the Preacher stands in his way.

Dirty Harry clint eastwood

8. Dirty Harry (1971)

Of all the characters Clint Eastwood has played throughout his legendary screen career, Dirty Harry Callahan may be the most iconic. Not one to follow rules, Dirty Harry first hit the screen in 1971 with his .44 magnum, “the most powerful handgun in the world,” and classic one-liners followed. Dirty Harry was just the beginning as Eastwood would reprise the role four more times.

clint eastwood in the line of fire

7. In the Line of Fire (1993

In one of the rare instances in which Clint Eastwood did not direct a film of his, he played Frank Horrigan, a Secret Service Agent in Wolfgang Petersen’s In the Line of Fire. The film follows Horrigan, who is tasked with protecting the President of the United States after there is an attempt on his life. Horrigan is battling the demons of being the only active-duty agent who had been assigned to protect John F. Kennedy.

6. High Plains Drifter (1973)

In this highly-rated Clint Eastwood Western movie, which was his second directing effort, Eastwood again plays a character with no name. Here his character rides into a small town ready to deliver justice to the corrupt. The film offers a supernatural element that fully kicks in as Eastwood’s “Stranger” rides out of town one last time.

Million Dollar Baby on Netflix

5. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Million Dollar Baby won the million-dollar prize for Clint Eastwood at the 77th Academy Awards, taking home four of them including Best Picture, Best Director (Eastwood), Best Actress (Hillary Swank), and Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman). The film follows Swank’s Maggie Fitzgerald as she works her way through the amateur boxing ranks with the help of Eastwood’s cranky Frankie Dunn and Eddie Dupris (Morgan). Watch this film and you will know why it received so many awards.

4. Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

Escape from Alcatraz is one of Clint Eastwood’s best films and is based on the real-life story of the escape in 1962 that eventually closed down the maximum-security prison. Although the film leaves questions unanswered about the escape, evidence of the real-life escape finally proved it to be successful. Eastwood is pitch-perfect as Frank Morris, one of the three men who somehow got away from Alcatraz Island.

clint eastwood

3. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

A Fistful of Dollars is the first film in Sergio Leone’s Dollar Trilogy and the first time Clint Eastwood worked with the legendary director. The film introduces Eastwood’s nominal character, the Man with No Name. The movie is known as the one to establish the Spaghetti Western and also one that brought recognition to Eastwood. Its brilliance is only surpassed in the trilogy by the next film on Eastwood’s list.

2. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1967)

Although A Fistful of Dollars was the initial film in Leone’s Dollars Trilogy, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is considered to be a prequel as Clint Eastwood’s character gradually obtains clothing he wears through the first two films (A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More). Whichever way you see it, this third film is the best of the bunch and Eastwood cements his Western film legend status once again.

clint eastwood unforgiven

1. Unforgiven (1992)

Sitting at the top of Clint Eastwood’s best movies is Unforgiven, a film that earned him the Best Picture and Best Director (his first) Academy Award. In this one, Eastwood stars as William Munny a ruthless aging outlaw and killer who has since hung up his guns. When he is approached to help track down vicious cowboys, Munny, realizing his farm is failing, decides to take on the job. This is classic Eastwood whose performance is boosted by Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman.