Skip to Content

12 Extraordinary Movies Set In Texas That Will Inspire You To Visit!

12 Extraordinary Movies Set In Texas That Will Inspire You To Visit!

They say everything is bigger in Texas, including the array of Movies Set in Texas, which showcase its rich and diverse cinematic landscape. The Lone Star State, with its sprawling plains, vibrant cities, and untamed wilderness, has been an irresistible backdrop for countless iconic films.

In this article, we explore the best of these films, each set against the vast and storied landscapes of Texas. Its rugged charm, vibrant culture, and complex history have not only captivated filmmakers but also woven narratives as vast and colorful as the state itself, making Texas an enduring symbol of cinematic grandeur.

From the remote deserts to the enchanting coastlines, we invite you to delve into the cinematic wonders that have cemented Texas’ rightful place in the annals of film history. So, grab your cowboy hat and get ready for a thrilling cinematic journey across the Lone Star State.

Movies Set In Texas

Texas, with its wide-ranging landscapes and rich history, serves as a compelling backdrop for movies set in the United States of America, showcasing narratives as diverse as the state itself. Its scenes of sprawling plains and vibrant cities echo the grandeur of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the USA, bringing a sense of majesty and authenticity to the silver screen. The films set in Texas weave stories that resonate deeply, capturing the spirit of the American experience.

For those inspired to explore these cinematic landscapes, the best USA tours offer a journey through Texas’ iconic settings. From historic landmarks to rugged natural beauty, these tours provide an opportunity to experience the essence of Texas, as depicted in its many film portrayals. Through these explorations, Texas emerges not just as a backdrop for movies, but as a character in its own right, embodying the heart and soul of American cinema.

Wondering where to watch? It depends on where you live in the world and which streaming services you have. We link to the streaming service we watch on in each case - be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, or elsewhere.

You can get one month free of Amazon Prime (or a 6-month trial for students) of Amazon Prime and also get immediate access to FREE Two Day shipping, Amazon Video, and Music. While you won't be charged for your free trial, you'll be upgraded to a paid membership plan automatically at the end of the trial period - though if you have already binged all these, you could just cancel before the trial ends.

Apple TV+ also has a one-week trial, and Hulu has a one-month trial (which can be bundled with Disney!). Another option might be using a VPN to access Netflix titles locked to other regions. Netflix is now available in more than 190 countries worldwide and each country has a different library and availability. US Netflix is (understandably) one of the best. 

While we wish everything could just be in one place - for now, it seems these are the best streaming platforms to watch on.

Movies Set In Texas
Movies Set In Texas
Movies Set In Texas

Dazed and Confused (1993)

Dazed and Confused is a classic coming-of-age film directed by Richard Linklater, a visionary filmmaker known for his unique storytelling style and ability to capture the essence of youth culture. Born in Houston, Texas, in 1960, Linklater developed a passion for cinema at a young age and went on to become one of the most prominent independent filmmakers of his generation.

Set in the small town of Austin, Texas, in 1976, Dazed and Confused follows a diverse group of high school students on the last day of school before summer break. The film portrays the intertwining lives of various characters as they navigate the complexities of teenage rebellion, friendship, and the pursuit of freedom. From the exhilarating moments of cruising in cars to the wild parties in moonlit fields, the film beautifully captures the spirit of adolescence and the bittersweet transition into adulthood.

Linklater’s depiction of Texas in Dazed and Confused is authentic and vivid. The film showcases the unique blend of laid-back charm and rebellious energy that defines the state’s cultural landscape. With its sprawling landscapes, vibrant music, and distinct fashion choices, the film paints a nostalgic portrait of a time and place where freedom and self-discovery were paramount.

Dazed and Confused not only serves as a time capsule of the 1970s but also offers universal themes that resonate with audiences of all ages. Linklater’s direction masterfully captures the complexities and nuances of youth, reminding us of the universal experiences we all share during our formative years.

Friday Night Lights (2004)

Friday Night Lights is a sports drama film directed by Peter Berg, an American filmmaker known for his ability to capture the intensity and raw emotions of real-life events. Berg began his career as an actor but soon transitioned into directing, where he found success in both film and television.

Set in the small town of Odessa, Texas, Friday Night Lights revolves around the Permian High School Panthers football team. The film is based on H.G. Bissinger’s non-fiction book of the same name, which chronicles the team’s 1988 season. The plot follows the players, their families, and the coach, as they face the pressure to win and the challenges that arise from living in a football-obsessed community.

Berg skillfully captures the essence of small-town Texas life, highlighting the significance of high school football in the region. The film portrays the intense dedication and passion that the townspeople invest in the success of their team, making football more than just a game but a way of life. 

Whether you’re a sports enthusiast or simply enjoy compelling dramas, Friday Night Lights is a must-watch film. Its universal themes of perseverance, community, and the pursuit of dreams resonate deeply, reminding us of the power of teamwork and the resilience of the human spirit. So, grab some popcorn, settle in, and prepare to be captivated by this gripping tale of football, dreams, and the indomitable spirit of a small Texas town.

Giant (1956)

Giant is an iconic American film directed by George Stevens, a renowned filmmaker known for his exceptional talent in capturing human emotions and telling compelling stories on the big screen. With a career spanning several decades, Stevens has helmed numerous critically acclaimed films, showcasing his versatility and mastery of the cinematic medium.

Set primarily in Reata, a fictional ranch in Texas, Giant follows the lives of two powerful families, the Benedicts and the Lynntons, as their paths intertwine through three generations. The film explores themes of love, family dynamics, and the changing landscape of America in the early 20th century. James Dean delivers a memorable performance as Jett Rink, a rebellious ranch hand whose ambition leads him to strike oil and become wealthy.

The backdrop of Texas plays a significant role in the film, showcasing its vast and unforgiving landscapes, symbolizing the grandeur and challenges of the American dream. Through meticulous attention to detail, Stevens portrays the essence of Texas, highlighting its rich cultural heritage, deep-rooted traditions, and the clashes between old and new ways of life.

Giant is a captivating film directed by the esteemed George Stevens, featuring a compelling plot set against the backdrop of Texas. Its exploration of timeless themes and its masterful portrayal of the evolving American landscape make it a cinematic gem. With its powerful performances and thought-provoking narrative, Giant is a film that should be experienced by all who appreciate the art of storytelling through film.

The Alamo (2004)

The Alamo is a historical war film directed by John Lee Hancock. Known for his ability to bring compelling stories to life, Hancock has proven himself as a versatile filmmaker throughout his career. Prior to The Alamo, he gained recognition for his work on films such as The Rookie and The Blind Side, demonstrating his proficiency in crafting emotionally engaging narratives.

Set in San Antonio, Texas, The Alamo chronicles the legendary Battle of the Alamo, a pivotal event during the Texas Revolution. The film follows a group of Texan rebels, led by Colonel William Travis, played by Patrick Wilson, and including iconic figures such as Davy Crockett, portrayed by Billy Bob Thornton, and Jim Bowie, played by Jason Patric. As the Mexican army, led by General Santa Anna, encircles the Alamo mission, the outnumbered defenders face a daunting and fateful struggle for independence.

For history enthusiasts and fans of epic war dramas, The Alamo is an absolute must-watch. The film adeptly blends historical accuracy with gripping storytelling, offering a compelling glimpse into a significant chapter of American history. With its stellar performances, breathtaking visuals, and intense battle sequences, The Alamo immerses viewers in the heroic struggle of the Texan rebels, instilling a deep appreciation for their unwavering spirit and sacrifice.

So, whether you have a penchant for historical dramas or simply enjoy captivating storytelling, The Alamo is a film that demands your attention. Prepare to be swept away by the gripping narrative and transported to a time when the fight for freedom reverberated through the plains of Texas.

Boyhood (2014)

Boyhood is a critically acclaimed film directed by Richard Linklater, known for his distinctive style and unconventional storytelling techniques. Linklater, a versatile filmmaker, has gained recognition for his ability to capture the essence of human experiences in his works. With a career spanning over three decades, he has crafted an impressive filmography that includes Dazed and Confused and the Before trilogy.

Set in Texas, Boyhood tells the story of Mason Evans Jr., portrayed by Ellar Coltrane, as he navigates the challenges and joys of growing up. The film spans 12 years, following Mason from childhood to adolescence, providing an intimate glimpse into his life and the world around him. As the narrative unfolds, viewers witness the complexities of familial relationships, the exploration of personal identity, and the profound impact of time on our lives.

Texas, specifically in and around Houston, serves as a vibrant backdrop for the film. Linklater skillfully portrays the Texan landscape, capturing the essence of the state’s sprawling suburbs and the cultural nuances that shape Mason’s upbringing. The film not only reflects the physical environment but also explores the cultural and social dynamics that are deeply embedded in the Texan way of life.

Boyhood is a cinematic gem that offers a unique and immersive viewing experience. Richard Linklater’s masterful direction, combined with the exceptional performances and the film’s portrayal of Texas, make it an engrossing and thought-provoking piece of cinema. Whether you appreciate coming-of-age stories or are simply drawn to captivating narratives, Boyhood is a film that should not be missed.

True Grit (2010)

True Grit is a captivating Western film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, renowned for their distinctive storytelling and masterful filmmaking. With a rich filmography that includes critically acclaimed works such as Fargo and No Country for Old Men, the Coen brothers have established themselves as prominent figures in the world of cinema.

Set in Fort Smith, Arkansas, during the late 1800s, True Grit revolves around the determined and headstrong Mattie Ross, portrayed brilliantly by Hailee Steinfeld in her breakout role. Seeking justice for her father’s murder, Mattie hires a one-eyed, alcoholic U.S. Marshal named Rooster Cogburn, played with rugged intensity by Jeff Bridges. Alongside Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, portrayed by Matt Damon, they embark on a perilous 

With its compelling characters, superb performances, and expertly crafted screenplay, True Grit is a must-watch film for fans of the Western genre and those seeking a riveting cinematic experience. The Coen brothers’ distinct directorial style infuses the movie with both moments of intense action and poignant introspection, creating a truly immersive and emotionally resonant viewing experience.

True Grit stands as a testament to the Coen brothers’ storytelling prowess and their ability to breathe new life into classic genres. With its captivating plot, outstanding performances, and stunning cinematography, this film captures the essence of the American West and delivers an unforgettable cinematic journey. Whether you are a fan of Westerns or simply appreciate masterful filmmaking, True Grit is a film that should not be missed.

The Searchers (1956)

Directed by John Ford, The Searchers is a classic Western film that showcases the director’s remarkable talent and leaves an indelible mark on the genre. John Ford, an iconic filmmaker in American cinema, directed over 140 films throughout his career and is widely regarded as one of the greatest directors of all time. Known for his visual storytelling, Ford’s distinct style and thematic depth are evident in The Searchers.

Set in the rugged landscapes of Texas, the film follows Ethan Edwards (played by John Wayne), a Confederate veteran, as he embarks on a years-long quest to find his niece, Debbie, who has been kidnapped by a Comanche tribe.

The narrative unfolds against a backdrop of sprawling plains and picturesque canyons, emphasizing the harshness and vastness of the frontier. Ford masterfully utilizes the Texas setting to highlight the characters’ isolation and the unforgiving nature of their journey.

The Searchers delves into complex themes of racism, identity, and the cost of revenge. As Ethan’s search becomes an obsession, his hatred for the Native Americans deepens, leading to a morally ambiguous climax. The film explores the psychological toll of years spent pursuing vengeance, ultimately questioning the nature of heroism and redemption.

For those seeking a classic Western that goes beyond the surface-level tropes of the genre, The Searchers offers a thought-provoking and visually stunning experience. With its breathtaking landscapes, nuanced performances, and profound storytelling, the film remains an essential entry in American cinema. Its enduring legacy and influence on subsequent films solidify its status as a true cinematic gem that should not be missed.

Hell or High Water (2016)

Hell or High Water, directed by David Mackenzie, is a gripping crime drama that captivates audiences with its intense storytelling and powerful performances. Mackenzie, a Scottish filmmaker known for his ability to depict complex characters and compelling narratives, brings his distinct style to this modern-day Western.

Set in the arid landscapes of West Texas, the film follows the story of two brothers, Toby and Tanner Howard, portrayed by Chris Pine and Ben Foster, respectively. Facing the imminent foreclosure of their family ranch, the desperate brothers embark on a series of bank robberies to secure the financial future of their children. As the heists escalate, they find themselves pursued by a determined and near-retirement Texas Ranger, Marcus Hamilton, played masterfully by Jeff Bridges.

With its thought-provoking script penned by Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water delves into themes of family, justice, and the consequences of economic inequality. The film skillfully combines elements of a heist movie with a character-driven drama, creating a rich and immersive cinematic experience.

Hell or High Water is a must-watch for film enthusiasts seeking a compelling story, exceptional performances, and a thought-provoking exploration of contemporary American society. From the breathtaking cinematography that captures the rugged beauty of Texas to the nuanced performances that bring the characters to life, this film is a testament to the talent of its director, David Mackenzie. So, grab a bucket of popcorn and prepare to be enthralled by this modern Western masterpiece.

Bernie (2011)

Richard Linklater’s film Bernie offers a captivating and darkly comedic exploration of a true crime story set in the small town of Carthage, Texas. Directed by Linklater, known for his versatility in storytelling and ability to capture the essence of a place, Bernie showcases his talent once again.

Linklater, an acclaimed American filmmaker, has a diverse filmography that includes classics such as Dazed and Confused and Before Sunrise. His career has been marked by an affinity for unconventional narratives and an authentic depiction of various settings. 

The film follows the charismatic Bernie Tiede, played by Jack Black, a beloved assistant funeral director in the conservative town of Carthage. Bernie, a pillar of the community, befriends a wealthy widow, Marjorie Nugent, portrayed by Shirley MacLaine. However, their relationship takes a dark turn as Bernie becomes overwhelmed by Marjorie’s possessiveness and abusive behavior. In a moment of desperation, Bernie commits a heinous crime that shocks the town.

Set in Carthage, a real town in East Texas, the film beautifully captures the essence of the place. Linklater skillfully portrays the unique dynamics of a close-knit community and the contrast between its superficial friendliness and the undercurrents of judgment and gossip.

Bernie is a must-watch for those seeking a blend of dark humor, true crime, and a captivating character study. Linklater’s direction, coupled with brilliant performances from the cast, creates a compelling narrative that explores the complexity of human nature. The film’s unique blend of documentary-style interviews with the townspeople adds an intriguing layer of authenticity to the story.

Lone Star (1996)

Lone Star, directed by John Sayles, is a captivating film released in 1996 that delves into the complexities of a small Texas border town. Sayles, known for his independent filmmaking and socially conscious narratives, demonstrates his directorial prowess in this thought-provoking drama.

The film is set in Frontera, a fictional town situated on the border between Texas and Mexico. Sayles skillfully captures the essence of this culturally diverse region, weaving together multiple storylines that explore themes of identity, race, and the lingering effects of the past. Through the lens of Sheriff Sam Deeds, played by Chris Cooper, the film examines the remnants of his father’s reign as the town’s corrupt sheriff and the impact it continues to have on the community.

As the plot unfolds, the discovery of a skeleton leads Sheriff Deeds on a journey to unravel the mystery behind the remains and confront the truths that lie buried in the town’s history. Sayles expertly intertwines personal and political narratives, highlighting the rich tapestry of characters who navigate their lives in the shadow of the past.

Lone Star serves as both a compelling mystery and a compelling character study. It showcases the talents of an exceptional ensemble cast, including Elizabeth Peña, Kris Kristofferson, and Matthew McConaughey. The performances are raw and authentic, drawing the audience into the lives of these complex individuals.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a horror film released in 1974 that has become a cult classic in the genre. Directed by Tobe Hooper, the film showcases his unique vision and storytelling techniques, which have had a significant impact on the horror genre.

Tobe Hooper, known for his unconventional approach to filmmaking, began his career in the late 1960s. He gained recognition with his debut feature film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which catapulted him into the spotlight. Hooper’s ability to create an atmosphere of dread and tension is evident throughout the film, establishing him as a master of horror.

Set in the desolate rural areas of Texas, the film follows a group of friends who find themselves terrorized by a family of sadistic cannibals. The plot revolves around Leatherface, a chainsaw-wielding psychopath, who becomes an iconic figure in the horror genre. The intense and relentless pursuit of the protagonists creates a sense of claustrophobia and fear that permeates the entire film.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a must-watch for horror enthusiasts. Its raw and visceral nature, combined with Hooper’s unique directorial style, makes it a groundbreaking piece of cinema. The film’s gritty realism and the relentless terror it generates are unparalleled, setting it apart from other horror films of its time.

Paris, Texas (1984)

Wim Wenders, a renowned German filmmaker, directed the critically acclaimed film Paris, Texas in 1984. Throughout his career, Wenders has garnered international acclaim for his distinctive visual style and introspective storytelling. He often explores themes of alienation, identity, and the human condition in his works, and Paris, Texas is no exception.

Set in the desolate landscapes of southern Texas, the film follows the journey of Travis Henderson, played by Harry Dean Stanton, a man who mysteriously disappears for four years. Travis is eventually found wandering in the barren desert and is reunited with his brother, Walt, portrayed by Dean Stockwell. As Travis reconnects with his estranged son, Hunter, they embark on a poignant road trip to find his long-lost wife, Jane, played by Nastassja Kinski.

The film masterfully captures the essence of Texas, showcasing its vast open spaces and atmospheric solitude. The arid landscapes and desolate towns mirror Travis’ emotional state and serve as a metaphor for his longing and search for connection. Wenders skillfully uses the visual elements of the Texan landscape to emphasize the characters’ isolation and longing for human connection.

Paris, Texas is a profound exploration of human relationships, loss, and redemption. It delves deep into the complexities of love and the consequences of past decisions. The film’s narrative unfolds slowly, allowing the audience to become fully immersed in Travis’ emotional journey and the dynamics of his fractured family.