Gritty Crime Western On Streaming Is The Best Adaptation Of Iconic Author

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

If you’re a fan of Western novels or had to take a Western novel class as part of the requirements to get your English degree, chances are, you’ve read a Cormac McCarthy book. This prolific author wrote twelve novels, two plays, five screenplays, and three short stories, all spanning within the Western or post-apocalyptic genres. Seven of his works have been adapted into films, and the best of them is one you’ve likely seen before: No Country For Old Men.

No Country For Old Men

If you haven’t seen No Country For Old Men before, then put it on your movie list because this critically acclaimed feature is considered one of the best movies of the 21st century. It’s a 2007 American neo-Western crime thriller, and it stands as a testament to the Coen brothers’ cinematic genius, as well as McCarthy’s storytelling prowess.

Written, directed, produced, and edited by Joel and Ethan Coen, this film adapts McCarthy’s 2005 novel into a gripping, atmospheric narrative that explores fate, conscience, and circumstance in the rugged landscape of 1980 West Texas.

A Drug Deal Gone Wrong

coen brothers

No Country For Old Men intricately weaves together the lives of three primary characters: Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a Vietnam War veteran, stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and a suitcase filled with $2 million.

His decision to take the money sets off a relentless pursuit by Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a psychopathic hitman with a peculiar moral code.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) investigates the ensuing carnage, embodying the struggle between the old, honorable ways and the brutal reality of modern crime.

A Killer Cast

Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones as Ed Tom Bell encapsulates the weariness and disillusionment of a man outpaced by the world’s violence. Javier Bardem’s portrayal of Anton Chigurh is chilling; his performance in No Country For Old Men won him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, making him the first Spanish actor to win an Oscar.

Josh Brolin brings a gritty determination to Llewelyn Moss, while Kelly Macdonald and Woody Harrelson provide strong supporting roles as Carla Jean Moss and bounty hunter Carson Wells, respectively.

Visually Stunning And Meticulously Crafted

No Country For Old Men began production with a modest budget of $25 million. Filming took place in New Mexico and Texas, with towns like Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Marfa providing the backdrop. 

Renowned cinematographer Roger Deakins crafted a visually stunning and realistic portrayal of the West Texas desert by emphasizing natural lighting and minimalistic compositions to enhance the film’s stark, haunting atmosphere.

Deakins’ meticulous planning meant that only a dozen shots made it to the cutting room floor, with the majority of takes making it to the final cut of the movie. The precision in his work showcased how well the cinematographer worked with the Coens and No Country For Old Men was his ninth film partnering with the brothers.

Hunter And Hunted

No Country For Old Men blurs the lines between hunter and hunted, with each character transitioning between these roles. The movie dives deep into themes of destiny versus self-determination, a universal theme that every human can relate to in some way. 

Leaning into that universal theme worked well for the movie as No Country For Old Men quickly garnered critical acclaim. It grossed $171 million worldwide and critics lauded the Coens’ direction and screenplay, Bardem’s performance, and Deakins’ cinematography.

Streaming No Country For Old Men

javier bardem no country for old men

No Country For Old Men swept the awards circuit, winning 76 awards from 109 nominations. At the 80th Academy Awards, it secured four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It also won three BAFTAs and two Golden Globes. Critics praised it as one of the best films of 2007, with many considering it the pinnacle of the Coen brothers‘ career.

No Country For Old Men is now streaming on Paramount+.