Film

The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked 

Ranker Film
Updated June 19, 2020 581 votes 94 voters 7.5k views 60 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. 

list ordered by
1
Stand by Me is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack

Released: 1986

Directed by: Rob 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 ...more

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2
What's Eating Gilbert Gr... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis

Released: 1993

Directed by: Lasse Hallström

What's Eating Gilbert Grape is a 1993 American drama film directed by Lasse Hallström and starring Johnny Depp, Juliette Lewis, Darlene Cates, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Peter Hedges wrote the ...more

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3
Fargo is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Steve Buscemi, William H. Macy, Frances McDormand

Released: 1996

Directed by: Ethan 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
Groundhog Day is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Michael Shannon

Released: 1993

Directed by: Harold 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 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #33 of 130 Movies That Should Never Be Remade #19 of 1,026 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

5
Beautiful Girls is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
LastCubScout added Natalie Portman, Uma Thurman, Rosie O'Donnell

Released: 1996

Directed by: Ted 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 ...more
6
The Last Picture Show is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Cloris Leachman

Released: 1971

Directed by: Peter 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 ...more

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#933 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #221 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Starslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

7
Doc Hollywood is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Doc Hollywood Michael J. Fox, Woody Harrelson, Bridget Fonda

Released: 1991

Directed by: Michael 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, ...more

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#1,116 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #194 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #51 of 141 The Most Rewatchable Comedy Movies

8
The Sandlot is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
James Earl Jones, Denis Leary, Karen Allen

Released: 1993

Directed by: David 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 ...more

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9
Footloose is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow

Released: 1984

Directed by: Herbert 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 ...more

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10
It's a Wonderful Life is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore

Released: 1946

Directed by: Frank 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 ...more

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11
Lady in White is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
LastCubScout added Katherine Helmond, Lukas Haas, Len Cariou

Released: 1988

Directed by: Frank 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 ...more

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12
Pleasantville is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Reese Witherspoon, Paul Walker, Tobey Maguire

Released: 1998

Directed by: Gary 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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#92 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #244 of 1,026 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #286 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

13
Signs is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Abigail Breslin

Released: 2002

Directed by: M. 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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14
Hell or High Water is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster

Released: 2016

Directed by: David 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
15
Wind River is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Jon Bernthal

Released: 2017

Directed by: Taylor Sheridan

Wind River is a 2017 American thriller film directed and written by Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water) in his directorial debut. US Fish and Wildlife Service agent Cory Lambert ...more
16
October Sky is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper

Released: 1999

Directed by: Joe Johnston

October Sky is a 1999 American biographical film directed by Joe Johnston, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Laura Dern. It is based on the true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner's ...more

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17
Son in Law is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Tiffani Thiessen, Brendan Fraser, Carla Gugino

Released: 1993

Directed by: Steve 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.

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18
The Ice Storm is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Katie Holmes, Christina Ricci, Sigourney Weaver

Released: 1997

Directed by: Ang Lee

The Ice Storm is a 1997 American drama film directed by Ang Lee, based on the 1994 novel of the same name by Rick Moody. The film features an ensemble cast of Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Tobey ...more
19
American Graffiti is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Harrison Ford, Ron Howard, Suzanne Somers

Released: 1973

Directed by: George 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 ...more

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20
Mystic Pizza is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Vincent D'Onofrio

Released: 1988

Directed by: Donald Petrie

Mystic Pizza is a 1988 American coming-of-age film directed by Donald Petrie. It stars Annabeth Gish, Julia Roberts, and Lili Taylor. The film also stars Vincent D'Onofrio, William R. Moses, ...more

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21
My Cousin Vinny is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Marisa Tomei, Joe Pesci, Ralph Macchio

Released: 1992

Directed by: Jonathan Lynn

My Cousin Vinny is a 1992 American comedy film written by Dale Launer and directed by Jonathan Lynn. The film stars Joe Pesci, Ralph Macchio, Marisa Tomei, Mitchell Whitfield, Lane Smith, Bruce ...more

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22
Tremors is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Kevin Bacon, Reba McEntire, Fred Ward

Released: 1990

Directed by: Ron 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, ...more

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23
Hot Fuzz is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Cate Blanchett, Martin Freeman, Simon Pegg

Released: 2007

Directed by: Edgar 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 ...more

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24
Juno is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Jennifer Garner, Ellen Page, Jason Bateman

Released: 2007

Directed by: Jason Reitman

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

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25
About Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Jack Nicholson, Kathy Bates, June Squibb

Released: 2002

Directed by: Alexander Payne

About Schmidt is a 2002 American comedy-drama film directed by Alexander Payne, starring Jack Nicholson in the title role. It is very loosely based on the 1996 novel of the same title by Louis ...more

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#18 of 39 Great Movies About the Death of a Spouse #15 of 23 Movies You Never Expected To Show Skin #14 of 20 Great Movies About Drifters Who Are Lost in Life