10 Great Western Movies For Fans Of Yellowstone

From Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves and Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, there are plenty of great Western movies for Yellowstone fans to watch.


There is no shortage of Western movies for Yellowstone viewers to enjoy, though there are some that are better to recommend than others. Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone protagonist isn’t the first gun-slinging badass in the Wild West, and the Duttons are also not the first close-knit group or family who have had to defend their home while also surviving in the harsh frontier. From the previous Western movies of Kevin Costner and Taylor Sheridan to the classic, revisionist, and neo-Westerns that have become iconic over the years, there are plenty of movies to discover for those who have fallen in love with the genre through Yellowstone.

With Yellowstone season 5 part 2 likely being the last installment in Sheridan’s acclaimed flagship series, it’s not a bad idea for viewers to start looking back at the history of American Westerns. Apart from Westerns that involve the lead star or creator of Yellowstone, the genre’s history is filled with characters, plot lines, and overarching themes similar to the ones in Sheridan’s show. Thematically, Yellowstone is a revisionist Western for how it subverts genre conventions, particularly in blurring the lines between good and evil. That said, Yellowstone also includes elements that are clearly inspired by movies that are considered classic Westerns, and the show’s fans should enjoy those, too.

10, Wyatt Earp (1994)

Starring Kevin Costner in the title role, Wyatt Earp is a biographical Western drama that tells the story of the historic lawman’s life and exploits. Most notably, this includes the circumstances leading to the infamous O.K. Corral shootout, in which Doc Holliday (Dennis Quaid), Wyatt Earp, and his brothers take out a group of outlaws. Wyatt Earp is a great Western movie for Yellowstone viewers who want to see how Costner developed the authoritative presence and voice of an indomitable lawman from the Wild West. Wyatt Earp is also a protagonist with a questionable past, similar to John Dutton and many other members of the Yellowstone cast of characters.

9, Silverado (1985)

Kevin Costner’s breakthrough role was in the 1985 Western Silverado. After surviving an ambush, Emmett (Scott Glenn) rides off to meet his brother Jake (Costner), so they can go to Silverado, California. However, Emmett finds Jake in jail waiting to be hanged and also encounters Paden (Kevin Kline) and Mal (Donald Glover). The four misfits soon find themselves to be the only saviors of a small town beset by injustice. Apart from featuring a young, spry, and charming Costner discovering his penchant for gun-slinging and clever quips, Silverado is one of the best Western movies for Yellowstone viewers who have grown fond of fun Westerns with a dose of humor.

8, Hell Or High Water (2016)

Hell or High Water stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster as Toby and Tanner Howard, brothers who rob several branches of the bank that’s about to foreclose on their ranch. Like the owners of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, the Howards aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty if it means saving their family’s legacy, which is what makes it one of the best Western movies for Yellowstone fans. Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan wrote Hell or High Water‘s screenplay, which received one of the movie’s four Academy Award nominations in 2017. Apart from the stars looking and acting like Duttons, Hell or High Water also explores morally gray areas like Yellowstone.

7, The Searchers (1956)

Widely recognized as one of the best Westerns ever made, The Searchers is the darkest collaboration between director John Ford and actor John Wayne. Ethan Edwards (Wayne) is an American Civil War veteran who journeys through the Comanche nation to find and rescue his kidnapped niece, leaving a trail of dead bodies along the way. Though Wayne is known for playing traditional Western heroes, the cold antihero Ethan Edwards may be his best role, as it solidified The Searchers as a foundational revisionist Western. It ranks high among the best Western movies for Yellowstone viewers because John Dutton’s thematic roots can be traced back to cowboys like Ethan Edwards.

6, Wind River (2017)

Cory (Jeremy Renner) is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officer who teams up with FBI agent Jane (Elizabeth Olsen) in order to solve a murder at Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation. Similar to Yellowstone, the movie raises awareness of pressing issues in Indigenous communities in the U.S., focused in particular on the epidemic of sexual violence against Indigenous women and girls. Though the horror film Vile 

was technically the first movie Taylor Sheridan directed, he considers Wind River to be his feature directorial debut. For establishing Sheridan’s foothold in the neo-Western and crime genres, Wind River is another one of the best Western movies for long-time viewers of Yellowstone.

5, Let Him Go (2020)

Let Him Go is a neo-Western with many similarities to Yellowstone. It’s set in Montana, focuses on themes like family and redemption, and even stars Kevin Costner as the protective patriarch of a family who lives on a ranch. After the death of their son, retired sheriff George Blackledge (Costner) and his wife Margaret (Diane Lane) rescue their son’s former wife and their grandson from her new boyfriend and his abusive family. However, George isn’t as bulletproof, rich, or well-armed as Yellowstone‘s John Dutton, which complicates his and Margaret’s rescue plan. Let Him Go is perfect for Yellowstone viewers who can’t get enough of Costner in contemporary Westerns.

4, Dances With Wolves (1990)

Before he became John Dutton, Kevin Costner’s most famous Western role was Lt. John J. Dunbar, a war hero of the Union Army, leading the cast of Dances with Wolves. The movie follows Dunbar as he befriends his Sioux neighbors while stationed solo at a U.S. military fort, eventually earning his titular nickname as an accepted tribe member. Dances with Wolves won seven Oscars, including Best Director for Costner in his feature directorial debut. Members of the Lakota Sioux Nation have separately lauded and criticized the movie for its Indigenous elements. Taylor Sheridan cites Dances with Wolves as one of the Westerns that inspired him to make Yellowstone (via Variety).

3, No Country For Old Men (2007)

No Country for Old Men follows Vietnam War veteran Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) as he stumbles upon a crime scene in the desert and finds a huge stack of cash, meant to be recovered by hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem). Meanwhile, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) investigates the crime. Winner of four Oscars, including Best Picture, it’s largely credited as the movie that put revisionist/neo-Western crime dramas back on the map in the 2000s. Many themes established by the Coen brothers with No Country for Old Men went on to inspire not just Taylor Sheridan, but every Western director since, making it a must-see for Yellowstone watchers.

2, Stagecoach (1939)

While The Searchers is the most famous of John Ford and John Wayne’s Western collaborations, Stagecoach was their first. It follows the outlaw known as the Ringo Kid (Wayne) as he protects a stagecoach crossing the frontier. He is joined by an alcoholic doctor, a sex worker with a heart of gold, a pregnant woman, and her military officer husband, among others. Stagecoach popularized these Western archetypes, the influence of which can be seen in the characters of Yellowstone and other shows and movies today. From Ford’s first impressive shots of Monument Valley to its unprecedented use of characters with actual depth, Stagecoach helped make Westerns synonymous with American cinema.

1, Unforgiven (1992)

Unforgiven follows retired former outlaws Will Munny (Clint Eastwood) and Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman), plus the young gunslinger The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett), as they go after cowboys who disfigure a sex worker. Standing in their way is Sheriff “Little Bill” Daggett (Gene Hackman) and his men. After starring in many of the best Westerns of all time, Eastwood directed, starred, and produced this realistic revisionist Western to reexamine the genre from every possible angle. Alongside Dances with Wolves, Unforgiven has been cited by Taylor Sheridan as one of the Westerns that inspired the development of YellowstoneUnforgiven won Eastwood his first two Oscars, for Best Director and Best Picture.


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