Riding High: 5 Top-Rated Westerns of the 21st Century & Where to Watch Them

Riding High: 5 Top-Rated Westerns of the 21st Century & Where to Watch Them
Image credit: Paramount Pictures

Contemporary takes on the West stories are as wild as the good old ones.

It may seem that well-built Westerns remained in the past, with young Clint Eastwood riding the horse in the dawn. However, these 5 modern gems of the genre with Tomatometer higher than 85% of critical acclaim can prove it’s wrong.

1. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Where to watch: Netflix and Prime

Russell Crowe and Christian Bale star in the feature, healing the wounded heart of the Western through re-inventing of the 1957 film of the same name. The movie’s story revolves around a poor rancher who volunteers to take the captured notorious outlaw to justice, and this trip transforms into the road towards the characters’ understanding of themselves, built by a clever narration and mixed with thriller and action elements.

2. Killers of the Flower Moon ( 2023)

Where to watch: Prime and AppleTV+

This Western was the one the acclaimed Martin Scorsese always wanted to make. Featuring the Osage Nation of the Great Plains after oil was discovered on tribal land, the director delivers not a typical crime drama for which he’s mostly famous, but a brand-new mix of elements of not only traditional Westerns, but also other genres, with an all-star cast assembling Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone.

3. Hell or High Water (2016)

Where to watch: Netflix and Prime

Written by Yellowstone ’s co-creator, Taylor Sheridan, this movie serves as another great example of adapting traditional Western tropes to today’s realities. The classic plot about the two ranchers (played by Chris Pine and Ben Foster) who are forced to turn into criminals here is modernized, as the characters perform inventive bank robberies with Jeff Bridges’ investigator pursuing them, bringing suspense to this neo-Western.

4. No Country for Old Men (2007)

Where to watch: Netflix and Prime

Set in West Texas during the 1980s, one of the most acclaimed Coen Brothers’ movies tells a shocking story of three men, portrayed by Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones, who become involved in a race after a large amount of money. Raising the issues of conscience and fate, this crime thriller builds its suspense through a classic Western trope of depicting hunters who are fighting for the same prey.

5. True Grit (2010)

Where to watch: Prime

Another Coens’ feature deserved to be in this list, as this time they dared to remake the 1969 classics and managed to present even a more remarkable version of the story of a girl on her way to avenge her father’s killer. Hailee Steinfeld’s convincing performance is supported by the one of the accomplished modern Western star, Jeff Bridges, who joins her heroine’s revenge trip, filled with perfectly-timed humor and visual splendor.