Taylor Sheridan started out in Hollywood as an actor that never really got to leading man status. Known for playing Deputy Chief David Hale on Sons of Anarchy, Danny Boyd on Veronica Mars, and appearing in guest roles on various shows including Walker Texas Ranger, eventually he decided that he wanted to write his own content. To say he was successful is an understatement. Now he's one of the hottest names in entertainment as the creator of Paramount Network's powerhouse Yellowstone, its prequel 1883 as well as a spinoff in the works, and Mayor of Kingstown. But he's also an incredible screenwriter which should come as no surprise since he's so good at writing for his television series.
Before Yellowstone was even released, Sheridan wrote multiple films. According to his IMDB, he technically made his directorial debut with the 2011 horror film Vile, but on this list, we're only counting the projects in his filmography that he personally wrote. Here's our ranking of all of the movies that he has written to date.
6. Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Day of the Soldado brings back Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin though not the original Sicario director Denis Villeneuve. In this thrilling sequel, Sheridan brings a criminal and CIA agent to do some dirty work behind the scenes in an effort to bring down the Mexican cartel. There's a dramatic kidnapping of a cartel leader's daughter, the same captivating characters from the first film, and somehow even more action. Sheridan really is the master at creating some seriously dramatic stakes and keeping you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.
5. Those Who Wish Me Dead
One of Sheridan's most recent films starred Oscar winner Angelina Jolie. He co-wrote the thriller with Charles Leavitt and Michael Koryta (who wrote the novel) and directed it as well. The story follows the character of Hannah (Jolie) who is a smokejumper (a firefighter working to stop forest fires). She helps a teenage murder witness (Finn Little) who is on the run from two criminals in the Montana wilderness. The movie is emotional, high stakes, and full of strong performances. Really the only critique is a common one for books that get adapted into movies -- there's just so much good info in the book sometimes the film version feels a bit rushed or condensed.
4. Without Remorse
Taylor Sheridan adapting the one and only Tom Clancy? Yes please! Michael B. Jordan brings to life the character of John Kelly, previously played by Willem Dafoe and Liev Schreiber in past Clancy adaptations. It's the origin story of the super-soldier Clancy fans remember from his bestselling Jack Ryan novels and Sheridan does a great job adapting the story. It's high steaks (of course), great character building, and exactly what he needed to do to set this character up for another film (which was on purpose, since Jordan signed a two-film deal). If there's one thing Sheridan is good at outside of modern westerns it's a military/political thriller.
Also known as the film that really put Sheridan on the map as a writer. Sicario is excellent, starring Emily Blunt as an FBI agent who gets called down to the Texas/Mexico border to help bring down a ruthless leader of a drug cartel. Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin co-star as other members of her task force. The entire movie is high stakes with emotions running high -- and you won't see any of it coming. There were multiple moments I found myself holding my breath and was nearly exhausted by the time it was over. But it's an amazing thriller that has some of the most interesting characters you've ever seen. Not to mention the movie was a nominee for multiple Oscars, including Best Score, Sound Editing and Cinematography.
2. Wind River
This movie was truly stunning. It's hard to watch at times but Sheridan's major directorial debut was a good one. Sheridan was apparently compelled to write the film after hearing about the tragic number of sexual assaults of indigenous women that go unreported. The movie takes place around the investigation of the murder of a young woman, played by future Yellowstone star Kelsey Asbille. Elizabeth Olsen plays a young FBI agent who works with a local hunter (Jeremy Renner) as they look for answers on a Wyoming Native American reservation. Even Yellowstone star Gil Birmingham appears as the murdered girl's father. The film is gripping, moving, and one that will stick with you long after the credits have rolled.
Sheridan spent time on the reservation before starting this film and as he told Collider, part of the reason he even directed it in the first place was that he wanted to make sure the story was told right.
"With this specific subject matter I was very worried that, you know, someone else would have a different vision for it and slight alterations to very specific things in here would alter the course of what I was trying to convey, and, you know, in order to write this story I had to ... I had given my word to some people in Indian country, you know, it took a lot of trust to let me tell the story and I just couldn't run the risk of someone altering that vision."
1. Hell or High Water
It was hard to narrow down the number one spot for this list but Sheridan's modern western earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for a reason. The film follows two brothers, played by Chris Pine and Ben Foster, who execute a series of bank robberies together in order to save their family's Texas ranch. Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham co-star as the Texas Rangers pursuing them. The script is incredibly sharp, with entertaining performances from everyone -- but especially Bridges...obviously. It's a story where you find yourself rooting for the villains, as the Howard brothers make for sympathetic criminals that rationalize their behavior. Maybe part of the reason it's so good is it takes place in West Texas...Sheridan himself grew up on a Texas ranch so he probably kept his script as authentic as possible. No spoilers here but just watch it...you won't regret it.
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