Photo: Working Title Films
Mustaches are perhaps the most divisive facial hair configuration a man can have. What is it about upper lip hair, separate from a beard, that evokes such visceral emotion from different people? Simply put, a mustache can make or break the entire look.
Now is as good a time as any to pay respectful homage to the men of cinema who have accomplished this surprisingly difficult task. Below you will find our definitive ranking of the best upper lip hair-havers since the great Thomas Edison invented the motion picture machine.
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mustaches in movies
7. Josh Brolin in 'No Country For Old Men' (2007)
Did Joel and Ethan Coen know that they were creating not only one of the best Westerns of all time, but also one of the most wonderful movie ’staches? In any case, they did. Josh Brolin’s protagonist Llewellyn Moss spends much of the film outrunning Javier Bardem’s composed but psychotic killer Anton Chigurh—and sporting some extremely cool facial hair doing it.
6. Henry Cavill in 'Mission: Impossible — Fallout' (2018)
Henry Cavill’s mustache made more headlines than facial hair typically does, the reason being that Warner Bros. Pictures had to pay millions to digitally remove the mustache in their
Justice League re-shoots and the resulting product was less than stellar. But for Mission: Impossible — Fallout’s part, the ‘stache is a powerful look for Cavill’s CIA Agent Walker.
5. Colin Farrell in ‘Miami Vice’ (2006)
Miami Vice was unfairly treated by critics. Sure, it bears little resemblance to the television drama series upon which it is based, but it is a quintessential movie of the digital film era. Mann is in top form, spinning a hyper-masculine yarn with Jamie Foxx as Ricardo Tubbs and Colin Farrell as a mustachioed Sonny Crockett.
4. Daniel Day-Lewis in 'There Will Be Blood' (2007)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s
There Will Be Blood has been considered essential viewing nearly since its release. Corrupt oil tycoon Daniel Plainview was a transformative role for Daniel Day-Lewis. Similarly, his facial hair deserves to be held in high regard. So much so, that it bumped another of Day-Lewis’s wonderful cinema ‘staches—that of Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York—right off this list.
3. Billy Dee Williams in 'The Empire Strikes Back' (1980)
A mustache reminiscent of Clark Gable's in
Gone With the Wind is nearly unheard of in the modern era, but Billy Dee Williams wears it well as Lando Calrissian in everyone’s favorite Star Wars movie, Irvin Kershner’s The Empire Strikes Back. It is not necessarily an easy look to pull off, but Williams has a potent yet effortless air of coolness on his side.
2. Sacha Baron Cohen in 'Borat' (2006)
Sacha Baron Cohen’s
Borat remains one of the greatest mockumentaries—and one of the greatest comedies in general. To us, his mustache is also worthy of similar superlatives. His ‘stache is meant to make him appear out of touch to those unaware of Baron Cohen’s shtick, but would it surprise you to know that some people out there actually find this look attractive?
1. Sam Elliott, 'The Big Lebowski' (1998)
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? In truth, we could have filled this list with Sam Elliott movie mustaches. No Hollywood star’s name invokes the image of a powerful mustache more than Sam Elliott. It is far rarer to see him without a mustache rather than with, but in
The Big Lebowski, his mustache is in absolute top form. It is so big, it almost feels out of control. Almost.