162 voters

The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked

Updated March 27, 2021 1.1k votes 162 voters 16.1k views64 items

The best small town movies do more than entertain you, they capture a way of life. Living in a small town is much different than living in a big city. Everyone knows everyone else, and because there's less to do, people make their own fun. The top small town movies understand that. In the best cases, these films create such a realistic atmosphere that the towns themselves practically become full-fledged characters.

Some of the most important movies about small towns include The Last Picture Show, Wind River, and Breaking Away. Although their stories are all very different, they have in common an ability to capture what life is like in more isolated locations. Groundhog Day is a great example of a small town comedy and Tremors is an awesome small town horror film.

Use the list below to vote for the greatest small town movies, or to find suggestions for good movies to watch. If you don't see your favorite on the list, add it and then check back to see how other users are ranking it. 

  • 1

    Stand by Me

    Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman


    Directed byRob Reiner

    Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age comedy-drama adventure film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. Based on the novella The...  more

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  • 2

    What's Eating Gilbert Grape

    Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio


    Directed byLasse Hallström

    What's Eating Gilbert Grape is a 1993 American drama film directed by Lasse Hallström, adapted from Peter Hedges 1991 novel. A young man in a small Midwestern town struggles to care for his autistic...  more

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  • 3


    Steve Buscemi, William H. Macy


    Directed byEthan Coen, Joel Coen

    Fargo is a 1996 American neo-noir dark comedy crime film written, produced, edited, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars Frances McDormand as a pregnant Minnesota police chief who...  more

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  • 4

    The Goonies

    Corey Feldman, Josh Brolin


    Directed byRichard Donner

    The Goonies is a 1985 American adventure comedy film directed by Richard Donner. The screenplay was written by Chris Columbus from a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg. The film's premise...  more

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  • 5

    Beautiful Girls

    Natalie Portman, Uma Thurman


    Directed byTed Demme

    Beautiful Girls is a 1996 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Ted Demme from a screenplay written by Scott Rosenberg, starring Matt Dillon, Lauren Holly, Timothy Hutton, Rosie O'Donnell,...  more

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  • 6

    Groundhog Day

    Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell


    Directed byHarold Ramis

    Groundhog Day is a 1993 American fantasy comedy film directed by Harold Ramis. A derisive weatherman (Bill Murray) finds himself reliving the same day over and over again after reporting a small...  more

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  • 7

    It's a Wonderful Life

    James Stewart, Donna Reed


    Directed byFrank Capra

    It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story "The Greatest Gift", which Philip Van Doren Stern wrote in...  more

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  • 8

    The Sandlot

    James Earl Jones, Denis Leary


    Directed byDavid M. Evans

    The Sandlot, also known as The Sandlot Kids, is a 1993 American coming-of-age film Comedy directed by David M. Evans, which tells the story of a group of young baseball players during the summer of...  more

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  • 9

    The Last Picture Show

    Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd


    Directed byPeter Bogdanovich

    The Last Picture Show is a 1971 American drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich, adapted from a semi-autobiographical 1966 novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry. Set in a small town in north...  more

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  • 10

    Doc Hollywood

    Michael J. Fox, Woody Harrelson


    Directed byMichael Caton-Jones

    Doc Hollywood is a 1991 romantic comedy film directed by Michael Caton-Jones, and written by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman. The film stars Michael J. Fox, Julie Warner, and Woody Harrelson, with...  more


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  • 11


    Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Bacon


    Directed byHerbert Ross

    Footloose is a 1984 American musical-drama directed by Herbert Ross. It tells the story of Ren McCormack, an upbeat Chicago teen who moves to a small town in which, as a result of the efforts of a...  more

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  • 12


    Kevin Bacon, Reba McEntire


    Directed byRon Underwood

    Tremors is a 1990 American western monster film directed by Ron Underwood, written by Brent Maddock, S. S. Wilson and Underwood, and starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross, and...  more

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  • 13

    Napoleon Dynamite

    Haylie Duff, Jon Heder


    Directed byJared Hess

    Napoleon Dynamite is a 2004 American independent art-house comedy film written by Jared and Jerusha Hess and directed by Jared. The film stars Jon Heder in the role of the title character, for which...  more

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  • 14

    Blue Velvet

    Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper


    Directed byDavid Lynch

    Blue Velvet is a 1986 American mystery thriller flm, written and directed by David Lynch. The film stars Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper and Laura Dern. The title is taken from...  more

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  • 15


    Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix


    Directed byM. Night Shyamalan

    Signs is a 2002 American science fiction thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Executive producers for the film comprised Shyamalan, Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy and Sam...  more

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  • 16

    Hell or High Water

    Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine


    Directed byDavid Mackenzie

    Hell or High Water is a 2016 American neo-western heist-crime film directed by David Mackenzie. To save their family ranch, two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) carry out a series of bank...  more

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  • 17

    Hot Fuzz

    Cate Blanchett, Martin Freeman


    Directed byEdgar Wright

    Hot Fuzz is a 2007 British action comedy parody film directed by Edgar Wright, written by Wright and Simon Pegg, and starring Pegg and Nick Frost. The film follows two police officers attempting to...  more

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  • 18

    American Graffiti

    Harrison Ford, Ron Howard


    Directed byGeorge Lucas

    American Graffiti is a 1973 American coming of age comedy-drama film directed and co-written by George Lucas starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Harrison Ford, Charles Martin Smith,...  more

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  • 19

    Son in Law

    Tiffani Thiessen, Brendan Fraser


    Directed bySteve Rash

    Son in Law is a 1993 American comedy film starring Pauly Shore, Carla Gugino, Lane Smith, Cindy Pickett, Tiffani Thiessen, Patrick Renna, Dan Gauthier and Dennis Burkley....  more

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  • 20


    Jennifer Garner, Ellen Page


    Directed byJason Reitman

    Juno is a 2007 Canadian-American comedy-drama film directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody. Elliot Page stars as the title character, an independent-minded teenager girl confronting an...  more

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  • 21

    The Majestic

    Jim Carrey, Matt Damon


    Directed byFrank Darabont

    The Majestic is a 2001 American drama film directed and produced by Frank Darabont, written by Michael Sloane, and starring Jim Carrey, Martin Landau, Jeffrey DeMunn, David Ogden Stiers, James...  more

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  • 22


    Reese Witherspoon, Paul Walker


    Directed byGary Ross

    Pleasantville is a 1998 American fantasy comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by Gary Ross. The film stars Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, J. T. Walsh, and...  more

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  • 23
    Harlan County, USA is a 1976 Oscar-winning documentary film covering the "Brookside Strike", an effort of 180 coal miners and their wives against the Duke Power Company-owned Eastover Coal Company's...  more
  • 24

    Lady in White

    Katherine Helmond, Lukas Haas


    Directed byFrank Laloggia

    Lady in White is a 1988 American horror film of the ghost/mystery genre. Much of the film was made in Wayne County, New York, taking advantage of the appropriate local area. The movie is based on a...  more

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  • 25

    Take Shelter

    Jessica Chastain, Michael Shannon


    Directed byJeff Nichols

    Take Shelter is a 2011 American drama-thriller film written and directed by Jeff Nichols and starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband...  more

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