The United States of Movies — 51 iconic films
The United States of Movies
Movies have touched almost every aspect of the American experience — and just about every square inch of land. EW picks the one film that best captures the spirit and story of each state.
Into the Wild (2007)
Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) abandons his urban life for one in nature — with tragic results. The beautiful, brutal Alaskan landscape takes center stage.
True Grit (1969)
District of Columbia
All the President's Men (1976)
More than just a nightmare of backwoods banjo players, this film suggests that within every upright Atlanta businessman hides a wild Appalachian hunter.
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
An alien crash-lands on rainy Kauai and learns valuable lessons about ohana and Elvis in a film that explores the meaning of sisterhood.
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
This cult classic is so Idaho, it sparked a flippin' festival there, complete with tetherball and a tater-tot-eating contest.
Field of Dreams (1989)
When a farmer (Kevin Costner) replaces his cornfield with a baseball diamond, the town assumes he's lost his mind. But it tees up a tearjerker about fathers, sons, and the magic of the game.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Dorothy Gale might go over the rainbow but she discovers that there's no place like the Sunflower State.
The Departed (2006)
Despite bearing the name of a North Dakota city, the Coen brothers' northerly noir is quirky Minnesota to its core. Yah.
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Gone Girl (2014)
A delusional father, a depressive son, a road trip to Lincoln: What could go wrong? Alexander Payne's meditation on the past offers an unlikely vision for the future.
The Hangover (2009)
What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas after three friends awake with no memory of the world's wildest bachelor party.
Our Town (1940)
The film of Thornton Wilder's American classic visits Grovers Corners, where a young couple and their families face love, life, and loss.
Gas Food Lodging (1992)
The dusty streets and striated skies of a small desert town provide the backdrop for this tale of two lonely girls and their waitress mother.
Related: Gas Food Lodging review
Do the Right Thing (1989)
On a hot day in Brooklyn, tensions simmer, boil, and explode. Spike Lee's masterpiece is a panoramic portrait of New York City at its best and worst: every neighborhood a city, every block a universe.
Three Faces West (1940)
This Dust Bowl saga was overshadowed by The Grapes of Wrath, but star John Wayne, playing a proud farmer, delivers flag-waving sermons worthy of this state.
Take a ride in your surrey with the fringe on top for this adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1943 musical, featuring the catchiest anthem for a state ever written.
Stand by Me (1986)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Director George Miller brings demented mayhem to RI's pastoral estates and historic churches — with an assist from a devilish Jack Nicholson.
The Big Chill (1983)
In Lawrence Kasdan's baby-boomer classic, seven college friends reunite in an antebellum mansion for a funeral, and to examine what happened to their 1960s ideals.
Terrence Malick's films are steeped in nature, telling stories born from the land. The same is true of his first film: a hazy, bleak rehashing of the American dream.
In his epic latticework set in the state's capital, director Robert Altman celebrates Nashville as the essence of America's thumping, generous, crazy heart.
As big and wide as the state it portrays, George Stevens' generation-spanning family saga strides across a Lone Star landscape of cattle barons and oil tycoons.
127 Hours (2010)
Amid a topography so gorgeously spooky and remote it might as well be Mars, Aron Ralston (James Franco) must save himself when his arm is trapped by a boulder — a testament to nerve and endurance.
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Although shot in Delaware, the Robin Williams gem about a passionate teacher at a prestigious prep school captures the rebellious nature of this New England state.
The supernatural teen romance put the town of Forks on the map. Under perpetually gloomy Pacific Northwest skies, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) finds forbidden love with gentleman vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Director Ang Lee's gut-wrenching love story may have been shot in the towering Canadian Rockies, but the rugged hearts of its heroes — two ranch hands (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) who embark on a doomed romance — are pure Wyoming.