10 Underrated Westerns From the 2010s

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From America to Australia, numerous regions produced Western movies throughout the 2010s. Some of the most famous the genre’s ever seen, in fact. True Grit (2010), Rango (2011), and Django Unchained (2012) — these movies hold tremendous name value, and they all received rave reviews from critics.

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However, there’s a fair argument that most high-quality Westerns went unappreciated throughout the 2010s. The titles on this list should be more widely regarded, not just as well-made Westerns, but as some of the greatest movies set in the Wild West. Whether from a perspective of critical reception or box office success, these are ten underrated Westerns from the 2010s, ranked.

10 Jane Got a Gun (2015)

With Natalie Portman in the eponymous role, Jane Got a Gun (2015) features brilliant performances from start to finish. There’s also Joel Edgerton, who co-wrote the script for this underrated Western, which homes in on Jane Hammond. After her injured husband returns home with outlaws on his tail, she takes her daughter to safety.

The Leads Share Wonderful Chemistry

Soon into the plot, she’s teamed up with Edgerton’s character, and the two share a wonderful chemistry that defines the quality of the film. But despite the engrossing character dynamic in tandem with memorable performances from a pair of superstars, Jane Got a Gun came up short across the board of success. No matter the perspective, it’s highly underrated.

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9 Red Hill (2010)

Red Hill

Release Date
November 5, 2010
Cast
Steve Bisley , Kevin Harrington , Ryan Kwanten , Tommy Lewis , Claire van der Boom

Runtime
96

A neo-Western with thrilling overtones, Red Hill (2010) was directed by Patrick Hughes from his witty, original script. Starring Ryan Kwanten as a cop named Shane Cooper, the plot kicks off soon after he moves into a new, confined town with his pregnant wife, Alice. He introduces himself to his new police department cohorts, then finds himself in danger once a killer escapes prison and seeks out those who arrested him.

A Thrilling Tale

Shane begins unraveling a series of conspiracies regarding his new department, with the plot of Red Hill producing some wonderfully thrilling moments. It’s also a high-quality film from a technical perspective, with notable shot value and thought-out sound design. However, this thriller by Patrick Hughes remains rather underrated today. Though plenty of critics saw light in its quality, Red Hill is rarely regarded by fans as one of the decade’s greatest Westerns.

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8 The Salvation (2014)

the salvation
The Salvation

Release Date
May 22, 2014

Director
Kristian Levring

Runtime
92

Directed by Kristian Levring with Anders Thomas Jensen as his co-writer, The Salvation (2014) is set in 1871. It tells the story of Jon, a veteran of the Royal Danish Army, whose wife and son are murdered near the film’s beginning. He then gets his revenge on the perpetrators, only to be tracked down by the leader of their gang, Henry Delarue.

A Lackluster Release

Although it features an emotional, thrilling, and well-paced plot, The Salvation received somewhat lackluster reviews from critics. Sure, a 71% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes isn’t the worst score in the world. But when also considering the name value of the cast — Mads Mikkelsen as Jon, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Henry, and Eva Green as the latter’s wife — it should be a shock to learn that this wild Western also bombed at the box office. Today, The Salvation deserves far more love.

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7 Mystery Road (2013)

Mystery Road
Mystery Road

Release Date
June 5, 2013

Director
Ivan Sen

Runtime
121

A well-written script, confident direction, beautiful visuals, and a keen eye for editing — with regard to Mystery Road (2013), nearly every element of filmmaking is worth writing home about. In writing the script and directing the film, Ivan Sen deserves more credit for his indelible contributions to this all-time great Western.

The Work of a True Auteur

Here’s the thing: On top of writing and directing, Ivan Sen also shot the film, composed the score, and sat in the editing room to piece together the final product. The work of a true auteur. He crafted a brilliant Western about indigenous detective Jay Swan, played by Aaron Pederson. As he solves the murder of a teenage girl, Jay will lead audiences on a truly gripping journey that deserves far more love in terms of overall popularity.

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6 Slow West (2015)

Slow West
Slow West

Release Date
April 16, 2015

Director
John Maclean

Runtime
84

Marking John Maclean’s feature film debut, Slow West (2015) features two talented thespians in the lead roles: Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee. They play Silas and Jay, respectively, the former a bounty hunter who agrees to help Jay track down his long-lost love. A solid story from Maclean, who directed his actors with passion and poise around every corner of the plot.

Sure, critics were resoundingly positive in their reviews for Slow West. But frankly, this should be regarded among the finest Westerns of the decade, and that’s sadly not the case. Perhaps in the coming years, Maclean and his team will accrue the following they truly deserve. It’s on film fans to check it out.

5 In a Valley of Violence (2016)

With Ti West as the writer-director, In a Valley of Violence (2016) stars famous American actor Ethan Hawke. It’s one of his many movies by Blumhouse Productions and easily the most underrated in that regard. Thanks to co-stars Taissa Farmiga and John Travolta in tandem with a compelling plot, In a Valley of Violence is also among the most overlooked Westerns of the century, let alone the 2010s.

A Compelling Revenge Story

Hawke plays Paul, whose dog Abbie is killed, to kick off the plot. So, fair warning there. But Paul gets his revenge, and along the way, he develops a bond with an innkeeper named Mary-Anne. She’s played by Farmiga, while Travolta shows up as the film’s antagonist: U.S. Marshal Clyde Martin. Everyone performs brilliantly in one of the greatest Westerns you’ve probably never seen, considering its $61,797 box office earnings before heading to video on demand and streaming.

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4 Never Grow Old (2019)

Never Grow Old
Never Grow Old

Release Date
March 15, 2019

Director
Ivan Kavanagh

Runtime
100

Written and directed by Ivan Kavanagh, an underrated Irish filmmaker, Never Grow Old (2019) features two famous stars in the primary roles: Emile Hirsch and John Cusack. The former plays Patrick Tate, an undertaker who profits once a gang of outlaws (led by Cusack’s antagonist Dutch Albert) rides into a frontier town to claim their victims.

A Couple of Collaborators

After their indelible work together on Never Grow Old, director Ivan Kavanagh and actor Emile Hirsch would work together again two years later on a film called Son (2021). Both films solidify them as an underrated director-actor collaboration — they deserve far more credit for their work, just as Never Grow Old deserves to be known as a high-quality Western.

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3 Hostiles (2017)

hostiles
Hostiles

Release Date
December 22, 2017
Cast
Scott Shepherd , Rosamund Pike , Ava Cooper , Stella Cooper , David Midthunder , Gray Wolf Herrera

Runtime
127

With Scott Cooper taking on the auteur role, Hostiles (2017) came to a distinctive life thanks to an intelligent script and keen direction. But on top of Cooper, there are several names worth noting, as Hostiles is, frankly, among the most star-studded Westerns ever. Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike co-star, while Jesse Plemons and Scott Wilson provide supporting efforts.

Underrated Performances

Those are some bona fide Hollywood superstars, and we haven’t even touched on names like Timothée Chalamet, Jonathan Majors, or Ben Foster. They all provide underrated efforts in an equally overlooked Western, following Bale’s protagonist, Joseph Blocker. He escorts a Cheyenne war chief and the latter’s family across perilous plains, finding a straggler along the way: a widow, played by Pike. It’s a captivating story that deserves far more love.

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2 Bone Tomahawk (2015)

A horror Western, Bone Tomahawk (2015) follows Kurt Russel’s protagonist, Sheriff Franklin Hurt. After a few of his people are kidnapped by a group of cannibalistic Native Americans, he forms a search party and heads into dangerous territory. It’s a compelling plot by writer-director S. Craig Zahler. But really, Bone Tomahawk shines through his uncompromising style of storytelling. In particular, the climax of Zahler’s feature-film debut will stick with audiences like few scenes ever filmed, in a bad way for some. But you’ll remember his movie, nonetheless.

One of the Scariest Westerns Ever Made

It’s well-made the whole way through, with gorgeous scenery and convincing performances bringing to life an unforgettable plot replete with memorable scenes, not just in the climax. But perhaps audiences were too scared to see it. While critics saw the brightest of lights in its quality, Bone Tomahawk came up unfortunately short at the box office. After a limited release across the US, the film made just under $500,000 at the box office, with an additional $4.28 million in home sales. From a perspective of popularity, it’s definitely underrated.

Related
The 20 Greatest Westerns You’ve Probably Never Seen

Even if a few westerns on this list ring a bell, they deserve far more love as some of the greatest movies the genre’s ever seen.

1 The Rover (2014)

the rover
The Rover

Release Date
June 4, 2014

Runtime
100

Directed by David Michôd with Joel Edgerton as his co-writer, The Rover (2014) is perhaps the greatest Western ever produced in Australia. Starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson, the plot kicks off when the former character’s car is stolen. Named Eric, he then recruits Pattinson’s character, Reynolds, who was left behind by the group of thieves who stole Eric’s most prized possession: his car.

The Gorgeous Australian Outback

A dystopian Western, The Rover makes tremendous use of the gorgeous Australian outback as the backdrop of a compelling plot. Although they don’t get credit from film fans — and even then, critics weren’t writing home about their efforts — Michôd and Edgerton crafted a masterful Western with tangible character development, intelligent dialogue, and well-implemented twists that will linger in audiences’ heads long after an initial viewing. This is the most overlooked movie by everyone involved, and it’s the most underrated Western of the 2010s.

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