There Will be Blood has become a classic western drama because of Daniel Day-Lewis‘ iconic performance as Daniel Plainview, many quotable lines, and the exploration of the American west during the oil boom. A movie as iconic as There Will be Blood may leave you craving more films to give you a similar experience and while nothing is quite like it, below are eight dramas that capture either the western feeling of There Will be Blood or explore similar ideas and themes. Fans of There Will be Blood will be sure to enjoy these powerful dramas.
The Master (2012)
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master is the story of Freddie Quell, (Joaquin Phoenix) a naval veteran who gets involved with Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), the leader of a philosophical movement called “The Choice,” to help him adjust to living in a post-war society. To find an experience that most closely resembles There Will be Blood, checking out the more of director Paul Thomas Anderson’s filmography is the perfect place to start. The Master explores the difficulty veterans face in post-war America, where new forms of medication are used to combat increasingly difficult trauma.
No Country For Old Men (2007)
Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong while out hunting and finds a case with two million dollars cash. Soon ruthless Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) and sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) are hot on his trail. No Country for Old Men argues that change in western America is inevitable even if it is difficult to deal with, and that change is portrayed by the unstoppable force of the movie’s villain Anton Chigurh. Much like There Will be Blood, No Country for Old Men tells a cautionary tale about the negative effects of greed in the Wild West.
Hell or High Water (2016)
Brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner Howard (Ben Foster) are out to rob banks in western Texas. They want to hit small town banks and only take what is in the cash register, making it difficult to track. Quickly Sheriff Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) joins the hunt for this bank robbing duo. Hell or High Water depicts the modern west and its rejection of modern society, showing that even though the advancement of technology haven’t taken root in our small towns, those towns are still affected by America’s growing economy. At the core of this story lies a difficult relationship between two brothers and a society that is growing out of its traditional western roots, something that Marcus Hamilton who is close to retirement is having trouble coming to terms with.
Citizen Kane (1941)
Charles Foster Kane’s (Orson Welles) death spawns a journalistic hunt for the meaning behind his final word, “rosebud.” Citizen Kane explores the life of this juggernaut of the publishing industry through a series of flashbacks that convey all the important moments in Charles Kane’s life. Citizen Kane is regarded as one of the best movies of all time for a reason, and it shares a surprising amount of similarities to There Will be Blood. Charles Kane, much like Daniel Plainview, is an expert in a field that slowly draws out the worst in him, with his only comfort being memories of his past.
Memories of Murder (2003)
Detectives Park Doo-Man (Song Kang-Ho) and Seo Tae-Yoon (Kim Sang-Kyung) attempt to catch the criminal behind a series of sexual assaults and murders in a small town in South Korea. Memories of Murder hones in on how to define morality in the modern age. While There Will be Blood focuses on the greed of an oil man corrupting western America, Memories of Murder tries to understand how we can define morality in an age where nothing is straightforward. Memories of Murder takes the small town western feeling and instead explores it in the context of rural South Korea.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Forward is a slow burning drama with only a handful of action scenes peppered throughout, so fans of There Will be Blood should feel right at home. The film explores the nuanced relationship between Jesse James (Brad Pitt) and Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) as Robert Ford attempts to get a spot in Jesse’s crew. The film starts with their first encounter near the end of Jesse’s time robbing. In There Will be Blood, Daniel is an imposing figure over his counterpart Eli, likewise in The Assassination of Jesse James, Jesse James towers over Robert Ford, making the buildup to the assassination even more tense. Through its pacing and central relationships, The Assassination of Jesse James may be the movie that most closely resembles There Will be Blood on this list.
At first glance it might seem that Oldboy and There Will Be Blood have little in common. The setting and pacing of the narratives are vastly different, but I want to make the argument here that if you enjoyed the drama of There Will be Blood, then you will enjoy what Oldboy has to offer. Dae-Su (Choi Min-Sik) has been imprisoned for fifteen years but doesn’t know why. While imprisoned, Dae-Su tries to remember all who could hold a grudge against him and dedicates his life to finding out why he was imprisoned and making his captors pay. Oldboy embodies the same overall feeling of There Will be Blood, as both focus on a main character who will relentlessly pursue their goals, even if they have varying degrees of success.
True Grit (2010)
Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) follows a path of revenge by hiring Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to help bring her father’s killer Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) to justice. This more straightforward Old West revenge narrative will still give you a similar feeling to There Will be Blood. True Grit is able to reinforce the idea of the western hero, while also expanding it to include a young girl as the lead. True Grit is the perfect bridge from There Will be Blood, as it equally indulges in the tropes that make Westerns so enjoyable while giving the audience a twist on the genre.