The old American West is a place that harbors many stories. Hollywood has shown a particular interest in this scenario and has given the audience some truly great films. Cowboys, gunslingers, Native Americans, outlaws — there is a lot of scope for concocting interesting stories and creating iconic characters. The texture, the music, and the whole aura of these films are completely different, and when a Western film is on, you know it’ll surely be an adventurous ride full of action. Considering the growing demand for Westerns, streaming platforms like Hulu maintain a collection of some great movies in the genre.
13. How to Blow Up a Pipeline (2023)
Set in West Texas, ‘How to Blow Up a Pipeline’ is directed by Daniel Goldhaber. The movie revolves around a plan by a group of individuals in their twenties to blow up an oil pipeline as a response to climate activism and climate change that has claimed the life of the mother of one of the individuals as well. The plot is set in Long Beach, California, and addresses climate change and environmental terrorism. The cast of the movie includes Lukas Gage, Ariela Barer, Sasha Lane, and Jake Weary. You may watch it here.
12. Cowboys (2020)
Directed by Anna Kerrigan, ‘Cowboys’ tells the story of a father, Troy (Steve Zahn), and his transgender son, Joe (Sasha Knight), who run away from home after the boy is unable to make his mother, Sally (Jillian Bell) understand how he feels about his own body. Sally thinks Joe is a girl no matter how he feels otherwise. While Troy tries to reason with Sally, she is adamant and believes that it is he who put “it” in Joe’s head. With no other way out, Troy takes Joe and leaves, taking the wilderness route that Montana has to offer them. Soon, they have the authorities looking for them while they explore nature, both within and without. With an effective portrayal of gender identity and the dynamics within a family, ‘Cowboys’ is a good film underscored by the Western genre which adds another organic layer to it. You can watch the film here.
11. Hostile Territory (2022)
A well-executed Western drama by Brian Presley, ‘Hostile Territory’ follows a Union soldier named Jack (Presley) who returns home after the Civil War, only to find out that his home doesn’t exist anymore. His wife is dead, and his children, presumed to be orphans, have been put on a train that is making its way further deep into the West, which is completely hostile territory. With dangerous and angry tribes out there, Jack will have to hurry if he wants to see his children again. The war may be over, but his battle has just begun. To join him on his quest, you can watch the film here.
10. The Legend of Molly Johnson (2021)
Directed by Leah Purcell, this movie is based on a classic short story, ‘The Drover’s Wife’ written by Henry Lawson in 1892. While the story doesn’t reveal the name of the character, the movie makes sure that she not only has a name but one that we cinephiles remember for a long time. Molly Johnson lives with her children in the Australian Outback while her husband earns a living by moving livestock, which is why he is away from home for months at a stretch before returning. Her vigilance for her children, accompanied by her worry that her surrounding brings in the form of daily experiences, is what the movie explores. The cast includes Leah Purcell as the titular character, Rob Collins, Jessica De Gouw, and Sam Reid. You can watch the movie here.
9. Murder at Yellowstone City (2022)
Is there a better story than a murder in the desert? ‘Murder at Yellowstone City’ directed by Richard Gray, is a masterfully executed movie that deals with just that. The death of Robert Dunnigan (Zach McGowan), the guy who recently discovered a gold mine, makes Cicero (Isaiah Mustafa), a slave who has just arrived in Yellowstone City, the primary suspect. However, more murders get Sheriff Jim Ambrose (Gabriel Byrne) perplexed, and he realizes what he has to do to find the culprit to stop the piling up of bodies. You may watch the film here.
8. High Ground (2020)
An intense and nuanced revenge thriller, ‘High Ground,’ is directed by Stephen Johnson and Stephen Maxwell Johnson. It tells the story of soldier-turned-policeman Travis (Simon Baker), who returns to the Arnhem Land 12 years after the massacre that killed many members of the Yolngu tribe and made him leave in the first place. Now, he has to track down Baywara (Sean Mununggurr), a dangerous warrior, with the help of his new peer and a survivor of the massacre, Gutjuk (Jacob Junior Nayinggul). Unbeknownst to Travis, Baywara is Gutjuk’s uncle, while Gutjuk is oblivious to the fact that Travis was involved in the massacre. When both truths are revealed, things are bound to get interesting and dangerous. You may watch it here.
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7. The Old Way (2023)
The slightly unhinged and eccentric nature of the West does make Nicholas Cage its befitting manifestation, don’t you think? In Brett Donowho’s ‘The Old Way,’ Cage stars as gunslinger Colton Briggs, who is involved in a game of revenge. When the son of a guy he once killed returns and kills Brigg’s wife, the latter decides to end the game once and for all and even takes along his daughter, who shares his taste for revenge. If you want an authentic Western experience, ‘The Old Way’ is a great pick. You can watch the movie here.
6. Frontera (2014)
‘Frontera’ is set in the potentially hostile land that lies between Mexico and Arizona, where Olivia (Amy Madigan), the wife of former Arizona Sheriff Roy (Ed Harris), is murdered. This event coincides with the illegal arrival of a guy named Miguel (Michael Peña) from Mexico to Arizona (U.S.), and thus he is a suspect but nothing more. Roy and the present Sheriff Hunt (Aden Young) start investigating a case that is underscored by as well as is a manifestation of the complicated relationship that the two bordering countries share, i.e., the U.S. and Mexico. The movie is directed by Michael Berry. You may watch ‘Frontera’ here.
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5. True History of the Kelly Gang (2020)
The movie is based on Peter Carey’s 2000 novel of the same name and is directed by Justin Kurzel. Set in the 1870s, it tells the story of notorious Australian bushranger and outlaw Edward Kelly, aka Ned Kelly, and his gang, the Kelly Gang. Kelly is perhaps most famously remembered for the bulletproof armor he developed and had on during his last shootout with the police, after which he was captured, tried, and executed on November 11, 1880, at the age of 25. The cast includes George MacKay as Ned Kelly, with actors like Russell Crowe, Nicholas Hoult, and Charlie Hunnam as the supporting characters. You can stream ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’ here.
4. Forsaken (2016)
Starring Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, and Demi Moore, ‘Forsaken’ centers on a pro gunslinger, John Henry Clayton, who has moved on from his gun-slinging days and returns to his hometown, aiming to mend things with his estranged father, Reverend Samuel Clayton. Henry’s mother passed away a few years ago, something that he didn’t know because he was serving in the American Civil War. Upon return, his welcome is rather unwelcomed as he finds his town being terrorized by a gang. Will he pick up the gun again to teach the guys a lesson, or will he let it slide? ‘Forsaken’ is directed by Jon Cassar. You can stream it here.
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3. The Salvation (2014)
Set in 1870s North America, ‘The Salvation’ revolves around European settler Jon (Mads Mikkelsen), who kills the brother of the local baron Henry Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) after the former murders his wife and son. This subjects him to Delarue’s wrath, who kills three innocents in the town that reported his brother’s death. It is also a sign for the people to help him find the killer. So Jon doesn’t have to deal with a man, who is also a man of war like him, or his gang but a whole town. What the result of the face-off will be is what we find out in ‘The Salvation.’ The movie is directed by Kristian Levring. The cast also includes Eva Greene and Jonathan Pryce. You can check out the movie here.
2. Tombstone (1993)
Set in the 1880s, this George P. Cosmatos directorial is based on real events, including the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, which is considered the most famous gunfight in American Old West history. The story follows former lawman Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell), who, along with his brothers Morgan (Bill Paxton) and Virgil (Sam Elliott), have moved on from their days of gun-slinging and settled in Tombstone. While they are looking for a peaceful life, fate has something else in store for them. They soon encounter the ruthless outlaw gang Cowboys led by “Curly Bill” Brocius. Deciding to put an end to the criminals’ activities and restore peace to the town, the trio of brothers shakes hands with Earp’s old friend Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer). A book of the same name has also been written based on the film by Giles Tippette. You can watch ‘Tombstone’ here.
1. Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Another Western starring Kurt Russel as a lead, ‘Bone Tomahawk’ is directed by S. Craig Zahler. Set in the Old Western town of Bright Hope, the film shows how Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell), Deputy Chicory (Richard Jenkins), gunslinger John Brooder (Matthew Fox), and cowboy Arthur O’Dwyer (Patrick Wilson) embark on a rescue mission to save several settlers who have been kidnapped by a group of cannibalistic Troglodytes whose savagery seems to have no bounds. How the band pulls off this dangerous feat, if at all, is what follows in this must-watch drama. You can stream ‘Bone Tomahawk’ here.
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