10 Best Westerns on HBO Max (April 2024)

10 Best Westerns on HBO Max (April 2024)

Movies


The Western movie has been around for a long time and was once one of the most popular film genres. Not only does it have a compelling aesthetic comprised of horseback shootouts, cowboy boots, salons, and more, but it also lends itself to rich characters and high-stakes stories. But Westerns aren’t a monolith — in recent years, there have been exciting new twists on the classic, beloved formula. Read on to discover the best Westerns streaming on Max.



For more recommendations, check out the best shows and movies on the platform, as well as the best Westerns on Netflix.


‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’ (1966)

Rotten Tomatoes: 97% | IMDb: 8.8/10


Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is an epic spaghetti Western — and the third movie in Leone’s Dollars Trilogy starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach. Leone directed the film from a screenplay he co-wrote with Luciano Vincenzoni and the screenwriting duo Age & Scarpelli, with additional material by Sergio Donati. The movie follows a bandit, a mercenary, and a drifter who race against each other to find a hidden cache of gold. A near-perfect film, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is Sergio Leone’s masterpiece and an excellent showcase of the director’s iconic style. Though it had a mixed critical reception when it first came out, today, every aspect of the movie is lauded, studied, and emulated, from its acting to its cinematography to its powerful soundtrack by Leone’s frequent collaborator Ennio Morricone. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly may not be the first Western (it’s not even the first in its series), but it is the most definitive, having inspired practically every film made in the genre since it first came out in 1966.


Watch on Max

‘The Ballad of Lefty Brown’ (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes: 80% | IMDb: 6.3/10

The Ballad of Lefty Brown

Release Date
December 15, 2017

Director
Jared Moshe

Runtime
111 minutes

Written and directed by Jared Moshe and distributed by A24, The Ballad of Lefty Brown stars Bill Pullman as the titular character, who sets out on a quest for vengeance after witnessing the murder of his old partner. A loyal and lovable sidekick thrust into the role of avenging hero, Lefty relentlessly pursues justice even though nobody takes him seriously. The film also stars Kathy Baker, Jim Caviezel, Peter Fonda, Tommy Flanagan, and Michael Spears. The Ballad of Lefty Brown premiered at the 2017 South by Southwest festival, receiving largely favorable reviews from critics. While the film’s plot does get a bit uneven, Pullman’s performance in the lead role is what makes this cowboy story one for the ages. The cinematography and action sequences are sharply crafted, elevating this fascinating character study. Though it has its flaws, The Ballad of Lefty Brown is a thoroughly enjoyable watch for fans of classic Westerns, with an interesting take on the oft-repeated beats of a revenge story. Like Lefty himself, the movie is an underdog that may just surprise you.


Watch on Max

‘A Fistful of Dollars’ (1964)

Rotten Tomatoes: 98% | IMDb: 7.9/10

A Fistful of Dollars Movie Poster

A Fistful of Dollars

Release Date
January 18, 1964

Director
Sergio Leone , Monte Hellman

Cast
Clint Eastwood , Marianne Koch , Gian Maria Volonte , Wolfgang Lukschy , Sieghardt Rupp , Joseph Egger

Runtime
99

A stranger rides into a town divided by a bitter feud, but where others see misery, our hero sees an opportunity for profit. Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars stars Clint Eastwood in his first major role, appearing alongside Gian Maria Volonté, Marianne Koch, and Wolfgang Lukschy. Unofficially adapted from Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars is the first film in Leone’s Dollars Trilogy. Though quite unfavorably received by critics in its time, A Fistful of Dollars has since been re-evaluated as a genre classic. Its enduring popularity is undeniable, and it’s the movie that made Clint Eastwood a star. With grand landscapes, morally layered characters, and a rich soundtrack by the legendary Ennio Morricone, the film checks off all the boxes for an epic story of the Wild West. Additionally, the movie’s climactic showdown still holds up as an edge-of-your-seat thriller despite the countless tributes, parodies, and rip-offs that have recreated the scene over the years.


Watch on Max

‘Dead Man’ (1995)

Rotten Tomatoes: 70% | IMDb: 7.5/10

dead man poster

Dead Man

Release Date
May 26, 1995

Director
Jim Jarmusch

Cast
Johnny Depp , Gary Farmer , Crispin Glover , Lance Henriksen , Michael Wincott , Eugene Byrd , John Hurt , Robert Mitchum , Iggy Pop , Gabriel Byrne , Jared Harris , Mili Avital , Billy Bob Thornton , Alfred Molina

Runtime
121 Minutes

A headline title in the niche acid-Western genre, the late-1800s-based Dead Man follows Johnny Depp’s William Blake who, after being rejected for a job he was promised in the frontier community of Machine, ends up on the run for murder. A visual treat filmed in black and white, Dead Man takes the viewer by the hand and pulls them head-first through this trippy adventure. A genre-defying rollercoaster from start to finish, Neil Young’s detailed score further emphasizes the surrealist vision director Jim Jarmusch clearly had. Boasting a strong cast, including the likes of John Hurt, Michael Wincott, and even Iggy Pop, Dead Man is a cult classic for good reason and is often cited as required viewing for fans of the Western genre. – Jake Hodges.


Watch on Max

‘Appaloosa’ (2008)

Rotten Tomatoes: 76% | IMDb: 6.7/10

Poster for Appaloosa movie

Appaloosa

Release Date
September 19, 2008

Cast
Robert Jauregui , Jeremy Irons , Timothy V. Murphy , Luce Rains , James Tarwater , Boyd Kestner

Runtime
114

Based on Robert B. Parker’s 2005 novel of the same name, Appaloosa follows Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) as lawmen for hire, who, after being brought in to steady the ship of a local town following a spate of murders, find their jobs to be a lot harder than they first thought. Compelling and innovative, Appaloosa certainly isn’t an average Western, with its quirky script from first-time writer and director Ed Harris helping it stand out. Jeremy Irons excels in an already talented cast, with moments of tension and drama neatly juxtaposing the sort of gunslinging action one may expect from such a film. For fans of a well-worn genre looking for something fresh, this is certainly one to watch. – Jake Hodges


Watch on Max

‘The Gold Rush’ (1925)

Rotten Tomatoes: 100% | IMDb: 8.5/10

The Gold Rush Film Poster

The Gold Rush

Release Date
June 26, 1926

Director
Charles Chaplin

Cast
Charles Chaplin , Mack Swain , Tom Murray , Georgia Hale

Runtime
95 minutes

As the film Charlie Chaplin wanted to be most remembered for, The Gold Rush stands out as one of the great performer’s best works, with his famous Tramp persona working its hilarious on-screen magic yet again. Chaplin plays the Lone Prospector who, after traveling to Klondike, Alaska, in search of gold, instead finds love in the form of Georgia Hale’s Georgia. Inspired by photographs of the real Klondike Gold Rush, the movie indulges in Chaplin’s typical marriage of humor and sensitivity, with slapstick comedy never too far from touching character moments. A masterpiece in silent filmmaking, The Gold Rush is just one of the many reasons why Chaplin’s films are so fondly remembered today, with many great Westerns owing a debt to this wonderful feat of filmmaking. – Jake Hodges.


Watch on Max

‘Stagecoach’ (1939)

Rotten Tomatoes: 100% | IMDb: 7.8/10

Poster for Stagecoach-1

Stagecoach

Stagecoach

Release Date
March 2, 1939

Director
John Ford

Runtime
1 hr 36 min

Iconic classic director John Ford directed 1939’s Stagecoach, one of the earliest Westerns in cinematic history. Set in the 1880s, the game-changing film follows a group of eclectic strangers riding a stagecoach through Apache territory. Stagecoach is far from perfect. Its depiction of Native Americans is highly problematic, and Ford’s approach might be off-putting to some. However, Stagecoach excels as a vivid portrait of the American West thanks to stunning visuals and a collection of ragtag characters that perfectly represent the time’s social dynamics in service of a classic story that would shape the Western for years to come. – David Caballero

Watch on Max


‘The Shooting’ (1966)

Rotten Tomatoes: 100% | IMDb: 6.5/10

the shooting poster

The Shooting

Run Time
1 hr 22 min

Director
Monte Hellman

Release Date
October 23, 1966

Actors
Jack Nicholson, Millie Perkins, Will Hutchins, Warren Oates

Though it might’ve taken until the 1970s for the public to finally say, “Hey, this Jack Nicholson guy might be one of the best actors of all time,” Nicholson himself was already proving himself one of the greats in the 1960s. It took until the end of that decade for him to become truly famous, though, with films like 1966’s The Shooting ultimately helping him get there. At just 78 minutes long, it’s a fast-paced and action-packed Western that follows two miners who agree to escort a strange young woman to a nearby town. It keeps things moving well consistently and certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome, in the process showing that Nicholson was more than capable of being a Western star, had he wanted to appear in more films within that genre. – Jeremy Urquhart

Watch on Max


‘Deadwood: The Movie’ (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes: 98% | IMDb: 7.4/10

A continuation of the popular show by the same name, Deadwood: The Movie follows the arrival of George Hearst (Gerald McRaney) to the town of Deadwood. Full of dark portends, Deadwood: The Movie uses him primarily as a catalyst to unite everyone — Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant), Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), Trixie (Paula Malcomson), Alma Ellsworth (Molly Parker), Charlie Utter (Dayton Callie), and more — in common purpose. Hearst is still a wretch, but this isn’t his story. He’s bringing modernity and telephone lines to Deadwood via his own violent, megalomanic brand of progress, but Deadwood’s rogue nature is not easily tamed. – Allison Keene

Watch on Max


‘Slow West’ (2015)

Rotten Tomatoes: 92% | IMDb: 6.9/10

slow-west-poster

Slow West

Release Date
April 16, 2015

Director
John Maclean

Cast
Kodi Smit-McPhee , Caren Pistorius , Aorere Paki , Jeffrey Thomas , Hayden Frost , Kieran Charnock

Runtime
84

A gripping, contemplative drama that is unlike any other Western ever made, Slow West is one of the century’s most underrated movies regardless of genre. Following a naïve Scottish teenager searching for his love and the Irish bounty hunter who accompanies him while harboring a secret, it splits its time between being brutal, sad, mysterious, and even occasionally funny all while being entirely captivating throughout. With hidden motives and cut-throat violence, there is plenty in the film to keep genre purists satisfied. But with a completely unhurried pace, melancholic tone, and a cohort of characters grappling with emotional quarrels, it also serves as a quintessential revisionist Western. – Ryan Heffernan

Watch on Max



Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *