You can stream these movies based on Cormac McCarthy’s writing


When Cormac McCarthy died this week, we lost one of the greatest writers of his generation. But his books didn’t just inspire readers — they also provided fodder for some interesting movies. While some of the film adaptations of McCarthy’s work fared better than others, we’re grateful for his contributions to American cinema.

Here’s a rundown of some McCarthy-inspired films that are available to stream right now on a variety of services.

‘All the Pretty Horses’ (2000)

McCarthy’s 1992 novel “All The Pretty Horses” wasn’t just a bestseller — it also won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The main character is a 16-year-old named John Grady Cole who travels from Texas to Mexico to live the cowboy life with his friend Lacey Rawlins. They get jobs as ranch hands on a large ranch, where Cole has a doomed love affair with the ranch owner’s beautiful daughter, Alejandra.

The film was directed by Billy Bob Thornton and starred Matt Damon as John Grady and Penelope Cruz as Alejandra. Despite this high-wattage star power, critics weren’t as kind to the movie as they were to the book. Out of 101 critics’ reviews, the film received an average rating of 32% on Rotten Tomatoes. “This adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel comes off as rather flat and uninvolving. Scenes feel rushed and done in shorthand, and the romance between Damon and Cruz has no sparks,” said the website’s Critics Consensus.

Where to Steam It: YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV, Vudu and Amazon Prime Video

‘No Country for Old Men’ (2007)

The plot of McCarthy’s 2005 crime thriller/Western “No Country for Old Men” takes place on the border of Mexico and the United States circa 1980. It’s about a drug deal gone bad in the Texas desert, and the hunter who stumbled upon the scene and got caught up in the violence and chaos that ensued. The movie version was directed by the Coen brothers and starred Josh Brolin as the hunter, Tommy Lee Jones as the sheriff and Javier Bardem as the evil hitman.

While the bestselling novel received mixed reviews, the movie adaptation was widely beloved by critics. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture. Out of 290 critics’ reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, it received an average rating of 93%. The Critics Consensus noted: “Bolstered by powerful lead performances from Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, and Tommy Lee Jones, ‘No Country for Old Men’ finds the Coen brothers spinning cinematic gold out of Cormac McCarthy’s grim, darkly funny novel.”

Where to Steam It: YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV, Vudu, Redbox and Amazon Prime Video

‘The Road’ (2009)

McCarthy’s 2006 post-apocalyptic novel, “The Road,” won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize. It’s the story of a man and his young son as they travel across a desolate, ash-covered U.S. in the aftermath of an extinction event (and the suicide of the boy’s mother). They spend the novel traveling toward the sea, scavenging for food and eluding humans who’ve turned feral and want to harm them.

Viggo Mortensen and Kodi McPhee play the father and son in the movie version, which received generally mixed to positive reviews. Out of 217 critics’ reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, it received an average rating of 74%. According to the Critics Consensus, “‘The Road’s’ commitment to Cormac McCarthy’s dark vision may prove too unyielding for some, but the film benefits from hauntingly powerful performances from Viggo Mortensen and Kodi McPhee.”

Where to Steam It: YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV, Vudu, Redbox, Pluto TV, Tubi and Amazon Prime Video

‘The Sunset Limited’ (2011)

Casual fans of McCarthy might not know that he also wrote plays. “The Sunset Limited” was based on one that was performed at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in 2006, and then in New York City later that same year. Examining themes of race and religion, the play was about a Black man who tries to dissuade a white man from committing suicide.

Tommy Lee Jones directed and starred in an HBO movie adaptation of the play, which co-starred Samuel L. Jackson. Out of 28 critics’ reviews, the TV movie had an average rating of 68% on Rotten Tomatoes. “The Sunset Limited’s’ ambition is undercut by arch dialogue and a claustrophobic setting, but Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson’s dueling performances bring heft to this battle of wills,” said the Critics Consensus.

Where to Steam It: YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV, Vudu, Redbox, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video

‘The Counselor’ (2013)

McCarthy’s novels tend to be dark and violent, and his sole published screenplay was a turbocharged version of his usual mayhem. It’s about a high-powered lawyer played by Michael Fassbender who gets involved in a drug deal — and with some very violent cartel members. The movie also stars Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt.

“The Counselor” bombed at the box office and didn’t fare any better with critics. Out of 221 critics’ reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, it scored an average rating of 34%. According to the Critics Consensus, “‘The Counselor’ raises expectations with its talented cast and creative crew — then subverts them with a wordy and clumsy suspense thriller that’s mercilessly short on suspense or thrills.”

Where to Steam It: YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV, Vudu, Redbox and Amazon Prime Video

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About the Author
Jennifer Graham Kizer
Jennifer Graham Kizer has written features and essays for over a dozen magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Health, Parents, Parenting, Redbook and TV Guide. Visit Scripps News to see more of Jennifer's work.

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