Movie fans can have something of a love-hate relationship when it comes to westerns. But it has to be said, the past couple of decades have produced some particularly remarkable ones.
Between originals for the streamer and licensed movies, Netflix has a great selection of westerns at the moment.
These are the ones that everyone should check out.
A stellar performance from Christian Bale leads this revisionist western that recalls the likes of 'Bone Tomahawk' and 'Unforgiven'. An army captain named Joseph Blocker working at Fort Berringer, New Mexico, in 1892, is tasked with bringing a Cheyenne chief and his family back to their tribe in Montana. Blocker assembles a team for the assignment, confronting his prejudicial tendencies and the dangers of the west along the way. 'Hostiles' is a compelling, poignant movie with phenomenal performances (from Rosamund Pike as well as Bale), a script that sizzles, and stunning backdrop.
The Sisters Brothers Eli (John C. Reilly) and Charlie (Joaquin Phoenix) have been making a living for years now as assassins. Their next job is to take out a man named Hermann Warm (Riz Ahmed). Warm, meanwhile, makes a companion in John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal). 'The Sisters Brothers' is brilliantly acted, darkly funny, and surprisingly touching. It completely defies expectations and proves an engrossing watch.
There Will Be Blood
In 1911, the blustery, up-and-coming oil tycoon Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is all smiles as he promises to inject money into the community - including a donation to the Church of the Third Revelation, run by the fiery faith healer Eli Sunday (Dano) of Little Boston, California, an area with 'an ocean of oil underneath it'. But Plainview is a parasite who wants to bleed the town dry before moving on. He cares for nothing and no one. Even his 'son' is the son of a former employee who Plainview uses to fool naive landowners into thinking he's a family man. The Oscar-winning turn from Day-Lewis is as compelling as it is horrifying.
The film sees director Paul Greengrass and actor Tom Hanks collaborate again, having previously worked on 'Captain Phillips' together. 'News of the World' follows a civil war veteran named Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, played by Hanks, as he travels from town to town in the old west to announce the latest news. On his journey he comes across a wild girl dressed in Native American clothing who he comes to learn is an orphan who was taken by the Kiowa people years ago. He reluctantly takes her across the treacherous western terrain so she can be with her aunt and uncle. You can expect some poignant moments in 'News of the World', but the movie particularly excels when it gets to the action, a shootout scene about midway through proving its high point.
Originally intended as a TV series, the anthology style of 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs' really works for it. It sees the Coen Brothers return to that familiar territory of the Old West where their previous films 'True Grit' and 'No Country for Old Men' were set. Familiar faces like Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleeson and Zoe Kazan pop up in various chapters.
After her life is destroyed by a British army Lieutenant, Clare (Aisling Franciosi) tries to track him down in the wilds of Tasmania. To help her, she enlists a tracker "Billy" Mangala (Baykali Ganambarr). This revenge western is poignant and devastating, with striking cinematography and a phenomenal lead performance from Irish actress Aisling Franciosi.
No Country for Old Men
A Texan hunter takes a stash of money abandoned at the site of a botched drug deal. An implacable hitman with no qualms about killing anyone who gets in his way, pursues the hunter across the state. Meanwhile, a world-weary sheriff struggles to make sense of the escalating chain of violence. The Coen brothers' Oscar-winning crime thriller stars Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Kelly Macdonald and Woody Harrelson.
There's a familiarity to 'Concrete Cowboy' as it feels like it is treading territory we’ve seen before. Still there's a warmth to the movie that gives the viewer a sense of comfort. Idris Elba and 'Stranger Things' star Caleb McLaughlin lead the cast. They play an estranged father and son who renew their relationship and spend time with the community of local urban cowboys. 'Concrete Cowboy' revises the notion that cowboys are all-white Americans. The locals inform Caleb’s character about how black people got erased from the western mythology and the history of cowboys.