Top 10 Movies Highlighting Rural and Small Town Life

Movies about farming and small town life

The rewards and struggles of life on the farm, the bonds of family, a rediscovered appreciation for one’s small town roots – these are regularly recurring themes in the movie world. Here are a few of our favorite films in which rural and small town life take the spotlight.

10. Doc Hollywood (1991)

After a mishap while passing through rural South Carolina on his way to begin a new career as a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, a young doctor (Michael J. Fox) soon finds himself hopelessly (and hilariously) ensnared in small town life.

9. Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

Reese Witherspoon stars as an ambitious New York fashion designer who reluctantly has to return home to rural Alabama in order to obtain a divorce from her estranged husband, only to be confronted with the slowly dawning realization that perhaps she has misplaced her priorities after all.

8. Babe (1995)

Okay, lots of suspension of belief and a willingness to embrace the silliness of it all required to appreciate this one, but this witty tale of an orphaned pig who learns to play the part of a sheepdog (and manages to avoid becoming ham in the process) features a colorful cast of talking barnyard characters that is simply too charming to resist.

7. Country (1984)

A Midwest family (Sam Shepard, Jessica Lange, and Wilford Brimley) struggles to hang on to their beloved farm in the face of mounting challenges, both natural and economic.

6. Hope Floats (1998)

Devastated in the wake of a humiliating marital breakup, a woman (Sandra Bullock), along with her young daughter, returns to her small town home to live with her mother as she attempts to begin rebuilding her life.

5. The River (1984)

Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek star as a couple locked in a relentless struggle against the forces arrayed against them, natural and human, as they fight to keep their farm – and their family – together.

4. Tender Mercies (1983)

A washed up, alcoholic country music singer strives to begin a new life with a widowed woman and her son in a small Texas town, but his past begins to catch up with him just as lasting redemption seems within his grasp.

3. Trip to Bountiful (1985)

An aging woman defies and evades her oppressive son and daughter-in-law in determination to make one last trip to her beloved childhood home in rural Texas.

2. Steel Magnolias (1989)

A tight-knit group of female friends in a small southern town support one another through the vicissitudes of life, including the untimely death of one of their own. The star-studded cast includes Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Shirley MadLaine, Daryl Hannah, and Dolly Parton.

1. Places in the Heart (1984)

A diverse group of disadvantaged individuals in a small Texas town pool their resources and work together in a fight for survival against the various forces arrayed against them, in this enduring testament to the power of love, faithfulness, courage, and forgiveness in the face of bigotry, greed, and betrayal.