Film

The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked  

Ranker Film
322 votes 46 voters 3.2k views 55 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
What's Eating Gilbert Grape is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis
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
2
Stand by Me is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack
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
3
Beautiful Girls is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
LastCubScout added Natalie Portman, Uma Thurman, Rosie O'Donnell
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
4
Fargo is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Steve Buscemi, William H. Macy, Frances McDormand
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
5
The Last Picture Show is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Cloris Leachman
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
6
Hell or High Water is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster
Hell or High Water is a 2016 American neo-western heist-crime film directed by David Mackenzie. The film follows two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) who carry out a series of bank robberies ...more
7
Groundhog Day is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Michael Shannon
Groundhog Day is a 1993 American fantasy comedy film directed by Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott. It was written by Ramis and Danny Rubin, based on a story ...more
8
October Sky is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper
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
9
Wind River is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Jeremy Renner, Ashley Olsen, Jon Bernthal
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
10
Doc Hollywood is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Michael J. Fox, Woody Harrelson, Bridget Fonda
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
11
Nebraska is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Bob Odenkirk
Nebraska is a 2013 American comedy-drama black-and-white road film directed by Alexander Payne and written by Bob Nelson. It stars Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, and Bob Odenkirk. The film ...more
12
In the Heat of the Night is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Lee Grant
In the Heat of the Night is a 1967 American mystery drama film directed by Norman Jewison. It is based on John Ball's 1965 novel of the same name which tells the story of Virgil Tibbs, a black ...more
13
It's a Wonderful Life is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
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
14
Lady in White is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
LastCubScout added Katherine Helmond, Lukas Haas, Len Cariou
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
15
Something Wicked This Way Come... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
LastCubScout added Pam Grier, Jason Robards Jr., Diane Ladd
Something Wicked This Way Comes is a 1983 American horror fantasy film directed by Jack Clayton and produced by Walt Disney Productions from a screenplay written by Ray Bradbury based on his ...more
16
Bernie is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Matthew McConaughey, Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine
Bernie is a 2011 black comedy film directed by Richard Linklater, and written by Linklater and Skip Hollandsworth. The film stars Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey. It is ...more
17
Tremors is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Kevin Bacon, Reba McEntire, Fred Ward
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
18
Signs is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Abigail Breslin
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
19
Shotgun Stories is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Michael Shannon, Natalie Canerday, Michael Abbott Jr.
Shotgun Stories is a 2007 drama film about a feud between two sets of half-brothers following the death of their father in rural Arkansas. The film was written and directed by Jeff Nichols, and ...more
20
About Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Jack Nicholson, Kathy Bates, June Squibb
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
21
Mud is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Reese Witherspoon, Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Paulson
Mud is a 2012 American drama film directed by Jeff Nichols and starring Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, and Reese Witherspoon. The film competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes Film
22
Footloose is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow
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
23
Mystic Pizza is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Vincent D'Onofrio
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
24
Pleasantville is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Reese Witherspoon, Paul Walker, Tobey Maguire
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
25
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
David Bowie, Heather Graham, Kiefer Sutherland
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is a 1992 American psychological horror film, directed by David Lynch and written by Lynch and Robert Engels. The film can be viewed as both prologue and epilogue ...more