‘No Country For Old Men’ is an Academy Award-winning 2007 Hollywood western from the Coen Brothers powerhouse. The story follows war veteran Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), who chances upon a drug deal gone bad somewhere in the borderland deserts of West Texas and makes off with $2 million in cash. Soon he has Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a cold-blooded yet deeply philosophical assassin who has been tasked with recovering the drug money, hot on his trail. Chigurh leaves a trail of death behind him and is himself being tracked down by jaded and aging sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones).
Critically acclaimed as one of the Coen brothers’ best directorial efforts, the film is a great example of the neo-western genre. It stays true to the traditional western cat and mouse chase amidst sweeping hills and desert towns while at the same time adding layers of ambiguity and chance that turn the genre on its head. If you enjoyed ‘No Country for Old Men’ and are looking to explore this genre more, we’ve got you covered. Here are 7 more movies that will satisfy your cravings for modern westerns with a twist of moral ambiguity that will leave you feeling satisfied and strangely melancholy at the same time. You can stream most of these films like ‘No Country For Old Men’ on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
7. Hell or High Water (2016)
Bank robberies, Texas rangers, shootouts, and family ranches. It doesn’t get more “western” than this. ‘Hell or High Water’ is a stylish, fast-paced ride through West Texas as two brothers plan a string of bank heists while being chased by rangers and the town posse alike. Initially thought to be doing it for the money, it is later discovered that they knock the banks down as a form of extrajudicial or “frontier” justice. Director David Mackenzie has walked the fine line to create one of those rare movies where you just can’t decide whose side you’re on.
6. A History of Violence (2005)
You know you’re in for a wild ride when you have an adapted graphic novel directed by the eccentric yet unmistakable David Cronenberg, and ‘A History of Violence’ does not disappoint. Tom (Viggo Mortensen) lives in a small town with his loving family, where he runs a simple diner. Except Tom might be hiding a secret past that is hurtling towards him in the form of mob boss Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris). “All hell breaking loose” barely describes what ensues. Suffice it to say, fans of the noir action genre will find plenty to love in this movie, and if you’re looking for a happy ending, may we suggest you look elsewhere.
5. Fargo (1996)
It’s no surprise to find another masterpiece by the Coen Brothers on this list, albeit a slightly more witty and less philosophical one. ‘Fargo’ takes place far from dusty Texas, in the snowy suburbs of Minnesota and North Dakota, and starts off as a classic case of “plans gone wrong.” Except they keep going wrong again and again. The dark humor and surprises are relentless, and the audience will have no idea how it all ends until it actually ends. ‘Fargo’ also spawned a critically acclaimed show under the same name that is definitely worth checking out if you enjoyed the movie.
4. Cold in July (2014)
Based on the novel of the same name by author Joe R. Lansdale and starring Michael C. Hall (of ‘Dexter’ fame), ‘Cold in July’ is a hidden gem that rewards those who choose to go down its rabbit hole. Starting with a simple case of breaking and entering, the movie gets steadily more sinister and does not let up until its fiery climax. Widely lauded as a great example of independent American cinema and neo-noir but not bogged down by it, this movie stays nimble and keeps audiences enthralled till the end.
3. Blood Simple (1984)
‘Blood Simple’ is a 1984 independent neo-noir crime film based in Texas. It also happens to be the Coen Brothers’ directorial debut, and one can already see the twisted genius of the brothers blossoming. Deftly walking the line between comedy, irony, and crime, ‘Blood Simple’ may not be as sophisticated as later Coen films but is just as entertaining to watch.
2. Wild at Heart (1990)
Quirky, blazing, and chaotic, ‘Wild at Heart’ stars Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern as lovers in the eye of the storm. Directed by David Lynch, this movie is the wildcard on our list and has been described as an “acquired taste” by some. As the couple flees to California to start a new life, they (especially Cage) seem to attract trouble wherever they go. One mishap after another keeps the story rolling forward, and at one point, Glinda the Good Witch from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ also makes an appearance to give the hero some timely advice.
1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Based on Ron Hanson’s novel of the same name and starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck in critically acclaimed roles, ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ is a rare neo-western based in the olden days of the 1880s. The layered storyline is a slow burner, giving viewers ample time to soak in the delicious cinematography as it builds up to the titular killing. Themes of betrayal, moral ambiguity, regret, and chance are skillfully folded into the 160-minute saga that spans 20 years and makes for an extremely satisfying watch.
Read More: 15 Best Western Movies Ever Made