Best Clint Eastwood Movies of All Time, Ranked for Filmmakers - Featured

Although the Western genre is past its hay day, it undoubtedly has inspired the work of some of today’s most prolific filmmakers and it is hard to hear the word “Western” without thinking of the best Clint Eastwood movies of all time. Eastwood proved to be a major factor in defining the genre but has also stepped outside of the Western to take on some of his most memorable roles. Besides his incredible achievements as a director, Clint Eastwood’s presence on the big screen has inspired, influenced, and entertained generations of movie-goers and filmmakers alike. So we compromised a list of Eastwood’s best and most memorable movies as an actor.

Best Clint Eastwood Movies

15. Sudden Impact (1983)

Taking a look at Sudden Impact

This 4th installment of the Dirty Harry series Sudden Impact is the only film in the series directed by Clint Eastwood himself. The film was Eastwood’s tenth directorial feature film and took on many of the same themes and action tropes its predecessors found success in. The action, shootouts, car chases, and memorable lines make this film easily identifiable is the second-best movie in the Dirty Harry series.

Musical Clint Eastwood films

Conclusion

Any fan of the Dirty Harry movie series will find this film familiar and entertaining. Those looking for something fresh and new would be a little disappointed.

Best Clint Eastwood Movies

14. Where Eagles Dare (1968)

Making of  •  Where Eagles Dare

Despite Clint Eastwood’s notoriety for violent films, more notably his Westerns, his character in Where Eagles Dare actually kills more people than any other character in his career. The best World War II films, however, rely on more than just action in violence. It’s clever screenplay builds up suspense and curiosity in a memorable and entertaining way.

Best World War II Clint Eastwood Pictures

Conclusion

Where Eagles Dare has a perfect grasp of the pace of action and the pace of drama and brings both together for a dynamic and captivating way.

Best Clint Eastwood Western Movies

13. Pale Rider (1985)

Clint Eastwood Interview on Pale Rider

Clint Eastwood finds his way back into the saddle this mid-80s Western. It had been nearly a decade since Eastwood’s last Western The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) when Pale Rider was released. Eastwood’s return as the hero cowboy Preacher proves why he was such a key player in the Western genre. The film capitalizes on all things good about the Western including disdainful bad guys and a mysteriously captivating good guy making for a great watch for any Western fanatic.

Musical Clint Eastwood films

Conclusion

While Pale Rider may not present anything new to the Western genre, it does present Eastwood both as an actor and director with years of Western experience flexing his craftsmanship.

Best Clint Eastwood Pictures List

12. Gran Torino (2009)

Behind the Scenes of Gran Torino

Clint Eastwood uses the tropes of the Western from all his years of experience directing and starring in the genre to his advantage in Gran Torino in a unique way. Eastwood takes on a more modern setting with more modern characters in this story of a xenophobic Korean War veteran and his Hmong neighbors. What Gran Torino lacks in naturalistic dialogue it makes up for in its plot as it utilizes familiar story elements to tell a new story.

Modern Clint Eastwood Pictures

Conclusion

Clint Eastwood, rather than ignoring his older age as the star of this film, utilizes it to create a fresh character with a captivating arc throughout the story.

Best Clint Eastwood Movies

11. Honkytonk Man (1982)

Honkytonk Man  •  Studio Scene

Clint Eastwood performs his own vocals and plays his own guitar in this heartfelt road movie of a Depression-era musician. Eastwood reveals a more tender side in this film that contrasts with his tough guy antics of his more familiar work. The film is also one of the more thematically complex movies in Eastwood’s filmography as it touches on growing older, aspirations, and hope.

Musical Clint Eastwood films

Conclusion

Clint Eastwood takes a risk with this film and character. By doing so, he reveals his ability to portray a more tender side at the expense of a slower-paced story.

Romantic Clint Eastwood Pictures

10. The Bridges of Madison County

The Making of The Bridges of Madison County

The screenplay of The Bridges of Madison County, adapted from the novella by Robert James Waller of the same name, gained so much traction that Steven Spielberg had originally considered directing the film. When Spielberg chose to just oversee work on the script, the film found its way to Eastwood to direct and star in the movie. The result is a sentimental yet satisfying film of a love affair that works at its own pace. The film capitalizes on the chemistry between Eastwood and Meryl Streep and leans into the rather cliche, but heartwarming tropes of a classic romance.

Best Romantic Clint Eastwood films

Conclusion

Eastwood is complemented by the performance of Meryl Streep as the pairs’ rhythm and chemistry carry the film.

Best Clint Eastwood Western Movies of All Time

9. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Behind the Scenes of The Outlaw Josey Wales

Another Eastwood classic full of action, thrill, and picturesque Western scenery. Eastwood’s performance as a post-Civil War Confederate soldier is as stellar as his direction. The film is filled with memorable and unique supporting characters that give the film depth and make the story only a bit more unique than the average Western. It’s the gritty, funny, action-packed Western we all know and love.

All Time Best Clint Eastwood Cowboy Movies

Conclusion

It’s an incredibly fun Western that combines a familiar revenge story with witty characters. While the plot may carry too many cliches for some, it fulfills all expectations of a Western film.

Top Clint Eastwood Movies

8. High Plains Drifter (1973)

A Man Named Eastwood  •  Making of High Plains Drifter

Clint Eastwood takes on the role of “The Stranger” in yet another gritty, action-packed, tobacco-smoking Western. Although the town of Lago, the setting of the film, was built only a few hundred miles away from Hollywood, the world of the film is tough and convincing as it serves as a character within the film. Mixed with traits of both a classic Western and mysterious ghost story, High Plains Drifter provides the gritty backdrop for Eastwood to shine as the gun-slinging man of few words.

Best Clint Eastwood Westen Movies List

Conclusion

The film leans heavily into the grit and immorality of a Western that follows a nothing-to-lose cowboy. The result is an action-packed often comedic story for some, while for others lands as a cynical Western that lacks a point.

All Clint Eastwood Movies Ranked

7. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Interview with the Cast of Million Dollar Baby

Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby swept the Oscars in 2004 winning four including Best Picture and Best Director. The latter made Eastwood the oldest Best Director Oscar winner ever at the age of seventy-four proving that Eastwood has no intention of slowing down. The film follows the story of Frankie Dunn (Eastwood), a veteran boxing trainer, who takes on the role of training Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) in the world of women boxing. With a supporting role from Morgan Freeman, the film is loaded with talent not to mention an inspiring story.

Best Sports Drama Clint Eastwood Films

Conclusion

Million Dollar Baby proved to be one of Eastwood’s more emotional and complex films especially in its third act. Although the film may seem to be a triumphant boxing film on the surface, be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster and one of the best sports movies ever made.

Best Clint Eastwood Movies Ever

6. Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

Escape from Alcatraz  •  Knife Fight Scene

Out of the saddle and into the jail cell. Eastwood takes on the role of real-life bank robber and Alcatraz inmate Frank Morris. The film follows Morris and two others in their attempt to escape from one of the world's most notorious prisons: Alcatraz. Eastwood’s low-key and subtle performance works as he portrays a more reclusive, yet highly intelligent bank robber.

Prison Break Clint Eastwood Films

Conclusion

Escape from Alcatraz allows for a more unique Eastwood character to be directed by someone other than himself. The result is a fresh Eastwood movie that deviates from his Western studded career at the time of the film’s release.

Top Clint Eastwood Movies

5. In the Line of Fire (1993)

The Making of In the Line of Fire

Clint Eastwood initially turned down this role of Frank Herrigan, a secret service agent haunted by his failures, when he learned that the character was supposed to be about fifty years old. Eastwood, 62 at the time, ended up taking the part and used his experience and age to give his character more depth and elicit empathy in the audience. Eastwood’s and John Malkovich’s performances push what could have been an overly cliche action movie into an entertaining thriller.

Top Historical Fiction Clint Eastwood Movies

Conclusion

Eastwood creates a film and character that is unique to the rest of his work and reveals that Eastwood’s talents do not diminish with age.

All Time Best Clint Eastwood Western Movies

4. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

Behind the Scenes Footage of A Fistful of Dollars

There are more than a few iconic Eastwood looks that are cemented in the history of cinema. Few get better than the pancho-wearing, tobacco-smoking, gun-slinging Joe in A Fistful of Dollars. The film is the first of director Sergio Leone’s famous “dollars trilogy.” Leone casted Eastwood after realizing that his first choice, James Coburn, was too expensive, and thank goodness he was. Eastwood’s performance in the film is memorable, iconic, and begins his legacy on the big screen.

Best Clint Eastwood Western Movies with Sergio Leone

Conclusion

A Fistful of Dollars is full of some of the most iconic Eastwood moments. It is arguably the movie that set the standard for the Spaghetti Western movies to come after.

Top Clint Eastwood Movies

3. Dirty Harry (1971)

New York Times Critics’ Pick  •  Dirty Harry Analysis

While you may not agree with his methods, Harry Callahan is one of the iconic movie cops in cinema history. Starring Clint Eastwood as Officer Callahan, Dirty Harry matches a play-by-my-rules cop that tends to take matters into his own hands with a nihilistic, and disdainful villain, The Scorpio Killer (Andrew Robinson). While this antagonist may not have been one of the best villain characters of all time nor a perfect match for Eastwood’s composed, yet ready to pull the trigger character, it does not take away from Eastwood’s iconic performance.

Best Crime Drama Clint Eastwood Movies List

Conclusion

Dirty Harry is a perfectly-paced action thriller with one of the most memorable Eastwood characters to date.

Best Clint Eastwood Films

2. Unforgiven (1992)

How Unforgiven Ended The Western (Temporarily) by Jack’s Movie Reviews

Although the '90s were a statistical low-point for Westerns, Unforgiven managed to come out on top winning various Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. Eastwood managed to deconstruct, rearrange, and dissect the genre of the Western he helped define.

Taking on the role of William Munny, an old-time outlaw-turned-good guy attempting to move on with his life, Eastwood avoids every cliche of the old Western and replaces it with a thematically complex and insightful narrative. Eastwood’s performance is powerful and convincing as he draws on personal experience from previous films to portray a man full of regret.

The story is focused less on action and more on reflection as it dissects the repercussions of violence. Unforgiven could be described as a farewell to the old Western genre and opened the door for a new era of the Neo-Western.

Best Clint Eastwood Movies List

Conclusion

At a time when most of the world felt that the Western genre was exhausted of all great stories, Unforgiven proves otherwise. It is bold, yet eloquent in both substance and style.

Best Clint Eastwood Cowboy Movies of All Time

1. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good The Bad & The Ugly  •  Why Is It So Good? 

Say more by saying less. The stare downs, the iconic one liners, the Mexican standoff have all gone on to inspire filmmakers for decades, even to the point of cliche. In 1966, however, the world had seen few movies quite like Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. As a pioneer of Spaghetti Western and tropes of the genre, Leone’s scope and vision is perfectly executed in this Western epic. Quentin Tarantino even calls The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly the greatest achievement in the history of cinema and much of Tarantino’s directing style can be traced back to these Spaghetti Westerns.

The film itself follows three men who scavenge the American Southwest for $200,000 in hidden gold. Set against the Civil War, the film is full of expansive landscapes, memorable characters, and a legendary story that serves as the ultimate punctuation to Leone’s dollars trilogy.

Best Clint Eastwood Pictures Ever

Conclusion

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly has been described by many as the greatest Spaghetti Western ever. Clint Eastwood arguably delivers his most iconic performance of his career.

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