Film

The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked 

Ranker Film
Updated June 19, 2020 651 votes 101 voters 8.1k 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

More Stand by Me 

Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'Stand By Me' That Prove The Film Shaped The Child Actors #12 of 358 The Best Movies Based On Books #294 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

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

More What's Eating Gilbert Grape 

The Most Memorable Quotes From 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape' #62 of 358 The Best Movies Based On Books #85 of 560 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies

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

More Fargo 

Theories About Why The Coen Bros. Had Marge Gunderson Go On A Date In Fargo #58 of 240 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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

More Groundhog Day 

#40 of 1,137 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #41 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #19 of 922 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
Footloose is listed (or ranked) 6 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

More Footloose 

Cut Loose With The Best 'Footloose' Quotes #2,243 of 3,110 The Greatest Albums of All-Time #37 of 560 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies

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

More Doc Hollywood 

#1,110 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #189 of 373 The Funniest '90s Movies #55 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

More The Sandlot 

What Ever Happened To All The Kids From The Sandlot? #493 of 1,137 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #73 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

9
It's a Wonderful Life is listed (or ranked) 9 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

More It's a Wonderful Life 

Ayn Rand Tried To Convince The US Government "It's A Wonderful Life" Was Communist Propaganda #134 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #120 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

10
The Last Picture Show is listed (or ranked) 10 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

More The Last Picture Show 

#947 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #66 of 554 The Best '70s Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

11
Pleasantville is listed (or ranked) 11 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

More Pleasantville 

#668 of 1,137 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #291 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #240 of 922 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

12
Signs is listed (or ranked) 12 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

More Signs 

#363 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #215 of 481 The Greatest Movies for Guys #439 of 489 Things That Are Not As Cool As People Think They Are

13
Wind River is listed (or ranked) 13 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

More Wind River 

#164 of 399 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #27 of 97 The Best Movies of 2017, Ranked #71 of 113 The Best Native American Movies

14
American Graffiti is listed (or ranked) 14 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

More American Graffiti 

#213 of 1,137 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #367 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #177 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

15
My Cousin Vinny is listed (or ranked) 15 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

More My Cousin Vinny 

Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'My Cousin Vinny' #11 of 1,137 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
Tremors is listed (or ranked) 16 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

More Tremors 

#87 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #81 of 560 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #407 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

17
The Goonies is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Corey Feldman, Josh Brolin, Sean Astin

Released: 1985

Directed by: Richard 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 ...more

More The Goonies 

Things You Have To Ignore In Order To Enjoy Watching 'The Goonies' #1 of 63 The Best Adventure Movies for Kids #95 of 1,137 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time

18
Hot Fuzz is listed (or ranked) 18 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

More Hot Fuzz 

#127 of 1,137 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #406 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #117 of 922 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

19
Lady in White is listed (or ranked) 19 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

More Lady in White 

#33 of 84 Great Movies That Take Place in Autumn #11 of 23 Underrated Halloween Movies You Should Watch This Year #65 of 77 The Best Fantasy Movies of the 1980s

20
About Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 20 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

More About Schmidt 

#18 of 39 Great Movies About the Death of a Spouse #15 of 23 Movies You Never Expected To Show Skin #18 of 37 Great Movies About Sad Loner Characters

21
Friday Night Lights is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Amber Heard, Connie Britton, Tim McGraw

Released: 2004

Directed by: Peter Berg

Friday Night Lights is a 2004 sports drama film, directed by Peter Berg, which documents the coach and players of a high school football team and the Texas city of Odessa that supports and is ...more

More Friday Night Lights 

#1,445 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #217 of 276 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #371 of 481 The Greatest Movies for Guys

22
Something Wicked This Wa... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
LastCubScout added Pam Grier, Jason Robards Jr., Diane Ladd

Released: 1983

Directed by: Jack Clayton

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

More Something Wicked This Way Comes 

#282 of 358 The Best Movies Based On Books #277 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #286 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

23
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk Wi... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
David Bowie, Heather Graham, Kiefer Sutherland

Released: 1992

Directed by: David Lynch

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

More Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me 

#389 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #24 of 127 The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made #385 of 557 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

24
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Small Town Movies, Ranked
Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, Molly Parker

Released: 2019

Directed by: Daniel Minahan

Deadwood: The Movie is a 2019 American western film directed by Daniel Minahan, based on the television series. In 1889, the residents of Deadwood are reunited to celebrate South Dakota's
25
Hell or High Water is listed (or ranked) 25 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

More Hell or High Water 

#163 of 399 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #429 of 481 The Greatest Movies for Guys #16 of 137 The Very Best Movies of 2016, Ranked