13 Best Sam Elliott Movies, Ranked

Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

Actor Sam Elliott is pushing 80, but he's still got that cool factor that you just can't teach. Who would have thought that after starting his career as just a featured card player in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, he would become an Academy Award nominee? The legend has appeared in films ranging from Thank You For Smoking to the film adaptation of the comic book Hulk.

Elliott grew up in Sacramento, California and went to school at the University of Oregon before packing his bags for Los Angeles to try and make it in Hollywood. Though he's well-known for his appearances in Western films, he has also had a successful TV career most recently making appearances on the Netflix TV shows The Ranch and Grace and Frankie (opposite his Grandma co-star Lily Tomlin). He's even put that recognizable deep voice to use in various cartoons and voice over roles like Lady and the Tramp, The Good Dinosaur and Chupadogra in Marmaduke. 

It's hard to narrow down with such a lengthy career, but we've chosen our top 13 Sam Elliott films, ranked.

13. The Legacy

We had to include the horror film that helped jumpstart Elliott's relationship with longtime love Katharine Ross. Elliott played the role of Pete Danner, an American who goes overseas to England with his wife (Ross) and ends up discovering a family curse in an old mansion.  

12. Up in the Air

This Oscar-nominated film starring George Clooney and Vera Farminga centers on Ryan Bingham (Clooney), who flies around the country helping companies terminate their employees. Elliott co-stars as Maynard Finch, a pilot Ryan meets while traveling around the country for work.

11. Prancer

Who could forget the emotional Christmas drama Prancer about a little girl who believes she has found one of Santa's reindeer? The beloved film centers on a young girl named Jessica who is being raised by her brother and widower father (Elliott). She believes she has found the real Prancer and attempts to nurse him back to health before Christmas Eve in the family's barnyard.

10. The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot

In this drama film, Elliott stars as Calvin Barr, an elderly man reflecting back on his days as a soldier in World War II who was on a top-secret mission to assassinate Adolf Hitler. 

9. Gettysburg

In this epic war film following the legendary Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War, Elliott plays Brigadier General John Buford who was instrumental in the battle fighting for the Union. Jeff Daniels and Martin Sheen co-star in this dramatic historical film.

8. The Golden Compass

In this 2007 film based on the Philip Pullman novel, Elliott played the role of Lee Scoresby, a Texan "aeronaut" who helps the main character.

7. Buffalo Girls

Elliott received an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of the legendary Wild Bill Hickok in this miniseries starring Anjelica Huston and Melanie Griffith.

Read More: Flashback: Sam Elliott Dances to George Strait in 'Road House' and We're Swooning

6. Tombstone

In this western film, Elliott plays Virgil Earp, the brother of Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell). It's a stacked cast, featuring Bill Paxton, Stephen Lang and Val Kilmer. 

5. A Star Is Born

The reboot of the classic Kris Kristofferson film starred Bradley Cooper opposite Lady Gaga. Elliott earned his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the role of Bobby Maine, Jack's (Cooper) brother and manager. 

4. Mask 

In his big breakout role, Elliott plays Cher's boyfriend Gar, a member of their family's motorcycle gang. He acts like a father figure to her son Rocky (Eric Stoltz) who suffers from craniodiaphyseal dysplasia.

3. Road House

Who could forget this cult classic Patrick Swayze film? Swayze plays James Dalton, a bouncer who moves down to Missouri from New York City to manage a bar. Elliott plays Wade Garrett, a mentor who comes to Dalton's aid.

2. The Hero

Elliott has made a career with supporting roles but in this 2017 film he plays the lead. In a role that seems made for the actor, he plays an aging western star (sound familiar?) who engages in an exciting relationship with a younger woman and tries to get another role to solidify his film legacy.

1. The Big Lebowski

One of the most memorable Coen Brothers films is definitely The Big Lebowski, starring Jeff Bridges as "The Dude." Elliott plays the role of The Stranger who narrates the classic comedy film.

Now Watch: 'Gunsmoke' Co-Star Ken Curtis Also Found Success in Western Films, Country Music

recommended for you

13 Best Sam Elliott Movies, Ranked