Films can make you fall in love with places you've never been. Even if you haven't stood at the feet of the Statute of Liberty, you've surely seen it a thousand times on the silver screen. Want to visit Hollywood? Just start any one of hundreds of movies about Los Angeles or California. There are famous movies from every state, whether they were actually filmed there or set there thanks to film magic.
There are more than enough films out there to represent the entirety of the United States. The most famous movie in every state might become a source of pride for locals – or it might become something of an embarrassment. The best movies by state might be comedies, westerns, dramas, or even animated films. As for the greatest movies of all, that's for you to decide.
Here are the best and most iconic films that each represent a state. Just know in advance, certain states had an unfair advantage.
Sure, Fargo itself is in North Dakota, but the film might as well belong to Minnesota, considering how the film turned a regional accent into a cinematic mainstay. Fargo plays up the tropes of the friendly northerners. But the Coen brothers' crime dramedy does a good job of putting you into the snow-covered boots of an average Minnesotan – as long as you put aside the whole murder thing.
See also: Juno, A Simple PlanFargo 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
Points to Logan for featuring North Dakota as a plot point that the aging hero desperately is trying to reach. Critically acclaimed and a fitting send off for the titular hero, the film even earned applause when the state was mentioned in it. Those applauding were from North Dakota, but hey, it's a film and state they should be proud of.
See also: FargoLogan is a 2017 American superhero drama film featuring the Marvel Comics character Wolverine. It is the 10th installment in the X-Men film series and the third and final Wolverine solo film ...more
Coal Miner's Daughter, the inspiring true-life story of Loretta Lynn, gives Kentucky some well-deserved representation. Plus, it won a few awards.
See also: The Insider, Elizabethtown, SecretariatCoal Miner's Daughter is a 1980 biographical film which tells the story of country music legendary singer Loretta Lynn. It stars Sissy Spacek as Loretta, a role that earned her the Academy Award ...more
Sling Blade is so associated with Arkansas that there's even a tourist website dedicated to the film's locations. The bittersweet story features a powerhouse performance by Billy Bob Thornton, and is drenched in an atmosphere only Arkansas could supply.
See also: Mud, True GritSling Blade is a 1996 American drama film set in rural Arkansas, written and directed by Billy Bob Thornton, who also stars in the lead role. It tells the story of a man named Karl Childers with ...more
This Clint Eastwood-directed western is one of the genre's best, a realistic and poetic look at life and death with the gorgeous backdrop of rural Wyoming. This is what movies should be.
See also: Brokeback Mountain, Wind River, The Hateful Eight, ShaneUnforgiven is a 1992 American Western film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood with a screenplay written by David Webb Peoples. The film portrays William Munny, an aging outlaw who takes on ...more
The wacky Coen brothers romantic comedy Arizona uses the arid landscape as a quirky backdrop to the wonderfully weird events of the plot. A place as interesting as Arizona deserves an interesting film – even if the citizen of Arizona aren't the biggest fans.
See also: 3:10 to YumaRaising Arizona is a 1987 American comedy film directed, written, and produced by the Coen brothers, and starring Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, William Forsythe, John Goodman, Frances McDormand, ...more
A beautiful state gets a beautiful movie. The story of Legends of the Fall may be tragic, but the landscape is something to behold. This hit tale of family showcases the raw majesty of Montana in a way few others have before or after.
See also: Arrival, Open RangeLegends of the Fall is a 1994 American epic drama film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond, and Henry Thomas. Based on the 1979 novella of ...more
If you can think of the state without thinking of the titular song, then points to you. Oklahoma and the musical of the same name are a calling card for the state.
See also: TwisterOklahoma! is a 1955 musical film based on the 1943 stage musical Oklahoma!, written by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist/librettist Oscar Hammerstein II and starring Gordon MacRae, Shirley ...more
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a rough film to watch, but a great one regardless. The journey into the world of mental institutions, as seen through the eyes of Jack Nicholson's character, has stood the test of time.
See also: Stand By Me, The GooniesOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 drama film written by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman and directed by Miloš Forman.
Tarantino's western revenge fantasy may not be the most accessible film, but it's a darn fine one regardless. Seeing a former slave go gung-ho on some racists is about as cathartic as it gets, and Mississippi is where most of the action goes down.
See also: The Help, A Streetcar Named Desire, Oh Brother Where Art Thou?Django Unchained is a 2012 American revisionist Western film directed by Quentin Tarantino. With the help of a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz), a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) sets out to ...more
Washington is a beautiful state, and this thoughtful think piece shows its landscape perfectly. Just kidding. First Blood is big, bonkers, and actually pretty smart. It was a hit action thriller that spawned a huge franchise and put John Rambo into the halls of Hollywood history.
See also: the Twilight seriesFirst Blood is a 1982 American psychological thriller and action film directed by Ted Kotcheff, co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, a troubled and misunderstood veteran. ...more
Detroit is often brought up as a crime capital, but RoboCop takes it the extreme. The hard R sci-fi action film features a hero only the '80s could produce. Between Jesus metaphors and pure fun, few films are as entertaining as the Michigan-set classic. The people of Detroit certainly seem to like it.
See also: American Pie, 8 MileRoboCop is a 2014 action science fiction film written by Michael Miner, Edward Neumeier, Nick Schenk and 2 others and directed by José Padilha.
The best picture winner No Country for Old Men may be brutal, but it's one hell of a movie. It showcases Texas in all its raw beauty, all the while showcasing a nasty and senseless story of morality, death, and the randomness of life.
See also: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday Night Lights, Dazed and ConfusedNo Country for Old Men is a 2007 American neo-western neo-noir thriller film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy. Mayhem ensue after a hunter (Josh Brolin) ...more
This true story, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, has to be seen to be believed. West Virginia is surely proud of their very own Homer Hickman.
See also: The Mothman PropheciesOctober 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
Rhode Island is known as a lovely and quaint state. The Conjuring, on the other hand, is a film so scary it earned itself an R rating. It paid off though, literally; it's one of the highest grossing horror films ever.
See also: Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About MaryThe Conjuring is a 2013 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan and the first installment in the Conjuring series. Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are ...more
This Clint Eastwood-directed western is one of many of the genre to take place in the lovely state of Missouri. However, the film's unforgettable hero and lasting effect on movie-making puts it over the top.
See also: Casino, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Gone GirlThe Outlaw Josey Wales is a 1976 American revisionist Western film. It was directed by and starred Clint Eastwood, with Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Sam Bottoms, and Geraldine Keams. The film ...more
Bull Durham's North Carolina pride is right there in the title: the Kevin Costner-led comedy centers on the Durham Bulls, a minor-league baseball team. The accents may not be quite as broad in real life as they are in the movie, but it's still a funny and sweet tribute to the state.
See also: American Gangster, A Walk to RememberBull Durham is a 1988 American romantic comedy sports film. It is partly based upon the minor league experiences of writer/director Ron Shelton and depicts the players and fans of the Durham ...more
Featuring one of the biggest budget to box office gross percentages in history, this nerve-rattling piece of horror history may not entice you to visit Maryland, but it's a worthy piece of cinema to represent it nonetheless.
See also: Patriot Games, Traffic, True Lies, Sisterhood of the Traveling PantsThe Blair Witch Project is a 1999 American found footage horror film written, directed and edited by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez. The film was produced by the Haxan Films production ...more
The true story-inspired 127 Hours may be hard to watch, but it's well worth it. James Franco stares in this tale of willpower and survival in the midst of one of the most beautiful and surreal landscapes to ever grace the silver screen.
See also: The World's Fastest Indian127 Hours is a 2010 British-American biographical survival drama film directed, co-written and produced by Danny Boyle. The film stars James Franco as real-life canyoneer Aron Ralston, who ...more
Harsh and painful, but true and powerful, 12 Years a Slave earned a Best Picture Oscar for its masterful craft. It's an intense experience, but one that is important to people everywhere, not just residents of Louisiana.
See also: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Green Mile, The Waterboy, Monster's Ball12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film directed by Steve McQueen, based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free ...more
No one is saying that Connecticut is secretly run by robots, but one could be flattered that the state's cheery disposition and kind nature would inspire a hit film about the suspicious nature of being a bit too perfect.
See also: Amistad, The Haunting in ConnecticutThe Stepford Wives is a 1975 science fiction–thriller film based on the 1972 Ira Levin novel of the same name. It was directed by Bryan Forbes with a screenplay by William Goldman, and stars ...more
While not the most romantic or alluring depicting of Sin City, Leaving Las Vegas is an Oscar-winning piece of cinematic history that brings out the best in Nicholas Cage. A place as crazy as Vegas deserves an actor as crazy as The Cage.
See also: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The HangoverLeaving Las Vegas is a 1995 romantic drama film written and directed by Mike Figgis and based on a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by John O'Brien. Nicolas Cage, who has ended his ...more
While Alaska isn't as full of malevolent wolves as The Grey suggests, the rural state is known for its beautiful, but deadly, environment. Plus it's the movie where Liam Neeson fist fights a wolf (kinda), so that's a plus.
See also: Insomnia, Into the WildThe Grey is a 2011 American survival thriller co-written, produced and directed by Joe Carnahan and starring Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo and Dermot Mulroney. It is based on the short story ...more
It's obvious, sure, but Nebraska is the right choice. The successful and Oscar-nominated film is a quirky and good-humored showcase for a state with the same traits.
See also: Election, Children of the CornNebraska 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
The Straight Story is David Lynch's sweet and simple story of a man who rode his lawnmower from Iowa to Wisconsin to see his brother. It really happened, and is the perfect showcase for a state as funny and charming as Wisconsin.
See also: Lars and the Real GirlThe Straight Story is a 1999 biographical drama film directed by David Lynch. The film was edited and produced by Mary Sweeney, Lynch's longtime partner and co-worker. She co-wrote the script ...more