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.
- Tom Hanks, Sally Field
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Few films are as quotable as Forrest Gump. While the titular hero doesn't spend the entire runtime in his home state, it's as impossible to separate ol' Forrest from Alabama as it is to separate him from his box of chocolates.
See also: To Kill a Mockingbird
- Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh
Directed by: Victor Fleming
Georgia has deep ties in American history, so its fitting that it's so associated with Gone with the Wind, a movie tied to cinema's history. Hailed as one of the greatest films of all time, Gone with the Wind sets its epic romance against the beauty of Georgia to brilliant effect.
See also: Deliverance, Fried Green Tomatoes
- Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
The Overloook Hotel, surrounded by snow and mountains, is one of the most famous locations of all time. Its beauty is matched only by the horror of The Shining's plot. The masterpiece of dread is unlike any other, and features some of the most famous lines and moments in all of cinematic history.
See also: Red Dawn, Dumb and Dumber
Pennsylvania – Rocky
Rocky is maybe the most inspirational film ever made, one that won awards, spawned a franchise, and created a cinematic icon. If Philadelphia didn't love Rocky, they wouldn't have him permanently on those steps.
See also: Unbreakable, Signs, The Sixth Sense, The Deer Hunter
- Marlon Brando, Al Pacino
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Honestly, New York is where all the good movies take place. Yet even with that surplus, The Godfather is special. What some consider the greatest film of all time is a showcase of everything fans about the movies.
See also: too many movies to list
- Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Jaws, one of the most famous films ever, may have stopped a few people from jumping in the ocean, but hopefully it didn't stop them from going to Massachusetts. The state is the setting of Steven Spielberg's masterpiece of tension.
See also: The Departed, Gone Baby Gone, The Town, Good Will Hunting, and many more
- Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman
Directed by: Frank Darabont
Stephen King sure does love Maine, but arguably his greatest Maine-set story is The Shawshank Redemption. The tough and triumphant film is one everyone should see.
See also: Pet Sematary, Carrie, Casper, The Cider House Rules, IT
- Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan
Directed by: Phil Alden Robinson
Iowa may not have the most films to showcase its never-ending corn fields, but hey, it's got baseball playing ghosts. The film captures the midwestern spirit like few others – plus, Iowans really do love baseball.
See also: The Crazies, The Straight Story, Bridges of Madison County, What's Eating Gilbert Grape
- Judy Garland, Margaret Hamilton
Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy, Norman Taurog, King Vidor, George Cukor, Victor Fleming
Few films are as tied to a state as The Wizard of Oz. While most of it takes place in Oz – or a dream, depending on your opinion – the movie focuses on Dorothy's quest to return to Kansas. There's no place like home, indeed.
See also: Superman
- Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin
Directed by: Bob Clark
The film that is a go-to for Christmas is a fitting go-to for Indiana as a whole. Few films are as well known or widely seen as A Christmas Story, so congrats to Indiana for getting this holiday gem to represent it.
See also: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Hoosiers, Rudy
- Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
The Silence of the Lambs hops around quite a bit as it traces its chilling trajectory, but Ohio deserves a special mention here. It's where Buffalo Bill claimed his first victim. Not the happiest association, of course, but it's an undeniably great film.
See also: Traffic
- Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell
Directed by: Kevin Costner
The Kevin Coster-directed film won plenty of awards, and managed to do it while telling a beautiful story set in the jaw dropping South Dakota plains. The hero spends his time admiring the beauty, and you will too.
See also: Badlands
- Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix
Directed by: James Mangold
Music goes with Tennessee like Johnny Cash goes with black. This Joaquin Phoenix-led hit biopic about the man himself is as much about Tennessee as it is about the legendary musician.
See also: Nashville, The Blind Side
- Charlie Sheen, Matthew Broderick
Directed by: John Hughes
John Hughes made a career out of showcasing Illinois, but perhaps no fim does it better than the hilarious Ferris Bueller's Day Off. There's just no beating that parade.
See also: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Halloween, Blues Brothers, Wayne's World, Weird Science, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
- Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Jumanji is movie everyone loves, and for good reason. The hit adventure film may be rebooted, but this classic will never be forgotten. Robin Williams is at his best here.
See also: Lolita, Rules of Attraction
- Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Scarface goes with Miami like Tony Montana goes with cocaine. The epic drug fuelled frenzy is drenched in sun, sand, and sweat, which is a fitting depiction of Florida – outside of the chainsaw murders and shootouts, that is.
See also: Body Heat, Magic Mike
- Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach
Directed by: Sergio Leone
This Sergio Leone spaghetti western is the definition of a classic, from the score to the lines to that landscape. New Mexico is the land of enchantment, and it gets the film that it deserves.
See also: High Noon, There Will Be Blood
- Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
The Patriot, the Mel Gibson-starring Revolutionary War epic, is set in bucolic South Carolina. It's a fitting showcase for the beautiful state, which has rich historic roots.
See also: The Big Chill, Hacksaw Ridge, Glory
- Tia Carrere, Ving Rhames
Directed by: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Hawaii has plenty of films that depict its lush island landscapes, but few have been as successful as the animated movie Lilo & Stitch. Sure, it may not be the most the most realistic, but when it comes to showcasing the state's pure charm, fun, and unique Hawaiian good spirit, a little blue alien just manages to pull it off.
See also: Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Descendants, Forgetting Sarah Marshall
- Jon Heder, Jon Gries
Directed by: Jared Hess
Idaho doesn't have too many films to show off its state, but when it got one, it really hit hard. Napoleon Dynamite is one of those films that shouldn't work, yet people still quote it constantly.
See also: My Own Private Idaho
- Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes
Directed by: Kevin Smith
Clerks is the cheaply made hit that launched Kevin Smith's career. It's a painfully realistic film about the mundane and funny details of life that everyone can connect to.
See also: The Wrestler, On the Waterfront, Friday the 13th
- Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Gosling
Directed by: Boaz Yakin
Remember the Titans is a film tied to its states history and one that will get you pumped up. The Denzel Washington-led sports story is about as heartfelt and feel good as you can get. It was a huge success, and gave Virginia a film to call its own.
See also: Donnie Darko
- Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan
Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar
Few comedies this dumb are this good. The highly quoted and beloved R-rated film Super Troopers is one to remember. Its sequel even managed to blow past its fundraising oal due to pure enthusiasm. Meow do you have any problem with this choice?
See also: White Christmas
- John Travolta, Bruce Willis
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
What better film to represent Hollywood's home state than the movie of movies, Pulp Fiction? Tarantino's ode to stories is a masterpiece that struck the cultural chord like few before or after it. One of the most quotable and acclaimed films of all time, it's as Californian as plastic surgery, suntans, and real chill vibes.
See also: Die Hard, Boogie Nights, The Graduate, and plenty of others
- Brad Pitt, Ed Norton
Directed by: David Fincher
Fight Club, the fourth wall shattering takedown of commercialism, has inspired many a first-year film student. It's a one-of-a-kind movie and one that Delaware is proud to be known for.
See also: Empire Records