The Coen brothers have made many excellent films but No Country for Old Men is arguably their best. It is a bleak look at the world, showing how people are left behind in a changing society.
Unlike many other Western films, No Country for Old Men is not a story about cowboys, outlaws, or the Wild West. The movie is set in 1980s Texas, and it features a former hitman in a cat-and-mouse game with a sheriff, who is trying to find a drug deal gone wrong. The film doesn’t play with the conventions of the Western genre, but it has a lot of the same themes.
Based on the novel of the same name, No Country for Old Men is a crime thriller. It is not a Western per see, but it does have enough Western elements to make it one. The movie has won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
If you have loved No Country for Old Men and looking for similar great movies with a Western setup, these 10 films are definitely for you.
10. Hell or High Water | 2016 | 7.6/10 IMDB
Hell or High Water is the purest version of the Western in years. Director David Mackenzie and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan have created a film that has all of the necessary elements of the Western genre without missing a beat. It’s a film that is able to go on for two hours and forty minutes without ever losing its purpose.
Hell or High Water has a story that is a perfect mix of classic and contemporary. The movie is about two brothers, Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner Howard (Ben Foster) robbing the bank that is expanding into their family land.
The film is a perfect example of the Western’s ability for social commentary, as it shows the state of the world, where the banks are on top and the rest of society is at their mercy. A film that is completely relevant to the world today and is a great example of the genre that it is trying to resurrect.
9. Blood Simple | 1984 | 7.6/10 IMDB
This is the film that set the brothers on the path of creating some of the best films of the last twenty years. Blood Simple is just so damn good, with a great cast and an intricate plot that will have you playing detective, still trying to figure out what exactly happened to the characters as you watch it. The Coen brothers have gone on to make many great films, but this one still shines in comparison.
8. A History of Violence | 2005 | 7.4 IMDB
This movie is proof that what you see isn’t always what you get, and that is the beauty of David Cronenberg’s 2005 film adaptation of John Wagner and John Romita Jr.’s graphic novel. Viggo Mortensen is Tom Stall, a diner owner who is forced to face the violence he has hidden and buried deep inside of him when two thugs set out for revenge on him and his family.
Throughout the film, Mortensen’s Tom Stall is a man of few words, but his actions speak louder than words ever could, and that’s the kind of character you see in a McCarthy novel.
7. Silverado | 1985 | 7.2/10 IMDB
The Coen brothers’ first film is a Western, and although it has a sense of humor, it’s a much darker, more somber Western than No Country. Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, and Scott Glenn star as three cowboys who ride into town after a stagecoach robbery and are forced to defend the town against a group of bad guys.
Silverado also stars a young and very blond Kevin Costner, who plays a gunfighter who rides into town to avenge his father’s murder. It’s an entertaining film, and it’s fun to see the Coen brothers working in their first genre.
6. The Sisters Brothers | 2018 | 7/10 IMDB
Based on Patrick Dewitt’s novel, director Jacques Audiard’s The Sisters Brothers stars Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as the titular brothers on a quest to find a prospector (Riz Ahmed) who has stolen a massive gold nugget from their boss.
The film is a stark departure from Audiard’s previous work, the Cannes-winning Dheepan. But the French director’s sense of humor, which is often buried in his other films, is on full display here. This makes for a fun, funny Western that’s equally as dark as it is funny.
5. The Proposition | 2005 | 7.3/10 IMDB
The Australian Western The Proposition, directed by John Hillcoat, follows two brothers, Charlie (Guy Pearce) and Mike (Ray Winstone) Burns, as they search for their missing sister. They eventually discover she has been abducted by The Captain, an outlaw played with grimacing delight by John Hurt.
Hurt’s character is the Last of the Mohicans’ Magua reborn. He would do anything to protect his people, even sacrifice his own daughter, and he will not stop until any and all who threaten his family has been obliterated. The Proposition is a blistering, uncompromising, and unforgiving Western.
4. 3:10 to Yuma | 2007 | 7.7/10 IMDB
A remake of the original, which was based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, this one is for the train buffs out there. The Coen brothers’ take on the story is beautifully shot by Roger Deakins and brilliantly acted by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, who are both competing for the best roles of their careers.
Crowe is the criminal Dan Evans who has a chance at redemption but refuses to take it. Bale is the lawman Ben Wade who is tasked with escorting him to Yuma. The outlaw and the lawman are both moral men, but only one of them is truly a good man.
3. Wild At Heart | 1990 | 7.2 IMDB
David Lynch’s second foray into the world of cinema in the 1990s was as divisive at the time as the first, but Wild at Heart has aged gracefully, and it makes for an excellent pairing with No Country for Old Men. A road movie full of twists and turns, featuring Nicolas Cage at his most Nicolas Cage-iest, Wild at Heart is as much a crime story as a love story.
2. The Hateful Eight | 2007 | 7.8/10 IMDB
Directed by Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight is set sometime after the Civil War in Wyoming. Bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) gets caught in a blizzard and seeks shelter in a cabin, where he runs into a group of strangers who may or may not be trustworthy.
The film was met with mostly positive reviews and did very well at the box office, but it was beset by controversy over the shooting of a live dog. The Hateful Eight was one of the last Westerns Tarantino planned to make and it was a fitting end to a genre he has perfected.
1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford | 2007 | 7.5/10 IMDB
Director Andrew Dominik’s film is a complete reflection on the Western genre. It’s a film that is a direct reference to the genre of the Western and a direct reaction to it. It has a great cast, with Brad Pitt playing the legendary outlaw Jesse James and Casey Affleck as the coward Robert Ford.
The film is an excellent story about a friendship that turned to jealousy and ended in murder, with some of the most beautiful cinematography that has ever been put on film. It is a film that is about the death of the Western genre, as Jesse James is the last of the great Western outlaws.