Sam Elliott, the legendary American actor whose filmography includes nearly 100 credits, is one of those artists you cannot decide which of their work is the best one. We will attempt to come up with a list though, with the best Sam Elliott movies and shows ranked. This list does not imply that the last project at the end is the actor’s worst project. On the contrary, it is one of his best projects among almost 100 productions that he took part in. The number 1 spot, however, goes directly to the best project that Sam Elliott played a role in.
The actor is 77 years old and his 1st movie credit belonged to The Way West (1967) in which he played a Missouri Townsman. Until 1985, the actor played minor roles in movies and tv shows, and in 1985 his big break happened in the movie Mask. His latest fan-favorite production is 1883, a Yellowstone spinoff, in which he plays Shea Brennan.
Let’s get on with the list of best Sam Elliott movies and shows which are ranked on account of their IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes ratings.
1. The Big Lebowski
The best movie that Elliott played a role in is unquestionably The Big Lebowski. A movie by the Coen Brothers that 1st received mixed reviews from critics but later became a cult. The movie has an 8.1 rating on IMDB and an 83% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Elliott plays The Stranger in the movie and despite his role is such a minor one, he is one of the most remembered characters from the movie. He is both the narrator of the movie and a friendly cowboy who spits wisdom on The Dude (Jeffrey Bridges). Throughout the years some people even discussed the appearance of the character to be a dream of The Dude as it is not clear whether he is a real-life person or just a fragment of The Dude’s imagination.
Arguably the best show that Elliott has played in, 1883 is a spinoff to the recent hit Yellowstone. The show is created by Taylor Sheridan, who is also the creator of Yellowstone.
Elliott plays Shea Brennan, the commanding leader of an immigrant wagon that the Dutton Family is traveling in. Right before the beginning of the journey, we learn that Brennan had just lost his wife and daughter to smallpox so we see a character that is in mourning. Elliott is a great addition to this series which has an 8.8 average score on IMDB and a rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes.
3. A Star Is Born
In this recent hit directed by Bradley Cooper and starring Lady Gaga and Cooper himself, Sam Elliott plays Bobby, Cooper’s character Jack’s big brother who tries to protect him. The actor’s performance in this movie was phenomenal and this was recognized by major award ceremonies like The Academy Awards, which nominated him for the Best Supporting Actor.
The movie had great reviews from critics and it gathered a score of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Its IMDB rate is 7.6.
Take a break and read Is Elsa Dutton Pregnant in 1883?
The movie Tombstone, which had a stellar cast, has Sam Elliott playing a character named Virgil Earp fighting an outlaw gang called The Cowboys. The movie instantly became a cult classic and there was even a book about the film that was published in 2018, called The Making of Tombstone.
The movie has 7.8 IMDB and 74% Rotten Tomatoes ratings.
5. The Ranch
One of the best shows Sam Elliott played a role in is The Ranch which ran from 2016 to 2020. Elliott’s character in the movie was Beau who ran a cow ranch in Colorado. His 2 sons are played by Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson (2 previous co-stars from That ’70s Show.) The show had 4 seasons.
The Ranch has a 7.4 rating on IMDB and a 60% score on Rotten Tomatoes, a relatively low score compared to Elliott’s other projects.
6. The Hero
The last item on our list of best Sam Elliott movies and shows is the 2017 movie The Hero, in which Elliott plays the lead character, Lee Hayden. Hayden is an aging actor who left behind his best roles and performances and now is in the age where he has to reconcile with his past but also searches for 1 final role that would cement his legacy.
The movie has a relatively low score on IMDB (6.5) but its approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes is quite positive (77%).
Also read: When Will 1932 Come Out? Is 1883 Over?