The American South has a reputation full of history and adventure. Since the 1930s, filmmakers and their audiences have been captivated by stories of the South’s charm, history, and key figures. The South is a classic setting for movies tailored to every genre. Check out this list of movies that every Southerner should watch.

9 Must-See Southern Movies

1.   Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

This rom-com was a big hit in the early aughts. Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, and Patrick Dempsey star in this delightful film about reigniting old flames and reminiscing on memories baked in Southern charm. Enjoy scenes of the South’s history and architecture in this heartwarming romance.

2.   Steel Magnolias (1989)

Grab a best friend to watch this movie about bringing friends together and sharing meaningful moments in everyday life. Based on a true story, Dolly Parton, Sally Fields, and Julia Roberts share a beautiful tale of friendship. Grab a box of tissues as you stream the box office hit that celebrates life, love, and the best parts of friendship in Louisiana.

3.   Skeleton Key (2005)

If you love thriller movies, stream this eerie Southern mystery. Kate Hudson’s character, Caroline Ellis, grabs the audience’s attention throughout the film. The story begins when an old Louisiana-based mansion needing a hospice nurse accidentally reawakens a darkness in the home’s frightful past. Caroline Ellis attempts to provide hospice aid but finds herself caught between this world and the next as the haunted house will bring her to the edge of her beliefs. With unforeseeable twists and turns, Skeleton Key is a must-see for all Southern horror film seekers.

4.   Gone With the Wind (1939)

Gone With the Wind is a classic romance based in Civil War Era Georgia. Vivian Leigh stars as Scarlett O’Hara, the daughter of a local plantation owner, who learns a lesson in love and jealousy. Scarlett’s life encounters many changes, loves, and heartbreaks as the Civil War progresses, but whose love will she end up with in the end? Gone With the Wind is a Southern movie of great renown, many awards, and one of the greatest onscreen kisses to this day.

5.   Waterboy (1998)

Comedian, Adam Sandler, brings home another hit to the funny bone with Waterboy. Based out of Florida, the film brings together Southern flare, football, alligators, and “high-quality H2O.” The laughs keep coming as Bobby Boucher joins the football team as a simple waterboy. He accidentally becomes an official player when his inner rage poses a positive outcome for the team. However, Mama doesn’t feel that sports are the best for her boy. Don’t wait to stream this movie that every Southerner can relate to with some comedy and charm.

6.   Big Fish (2003)

Southern fans of fantasy will love watching Big Fish. Comedy, romance, and imagination all combine to inspire the mind to see beyond the story of everyday life. The creative display of animation in Tim Burton’s 2003 film tells the story of Edward Bloom through the eyes of his son, William. As you watch Big Fish, find yourself immersed in the Southern adventure of a lifetime and see if you can tell if Edward’s life story is real or simply a big fish tale.

7.   Selma (2014)

David Oyelowo plays the remarkable role of Martin Luther King, Jr. in this true story of Dr. King’s life and legacy. Co-starring with Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Carmen Ejogo, witness the dramatic life of Dr. King unfold throughout Selma and Montgomery, Alabama. Southerners will appreciate the rendition of Dr. King’s life achievements.

8.   Walk the Line (2005)

Music fans will enjoy the life story of Johnny Cash and his musical career in Walk the Line. Starting as a young boy in Arkansas to gaining international fame in Memphis, see the life journey of Johnny Cash through the eyes of Hollywood. Starring Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny and Reese Witherspoon as June Cash, this film captures the triumphs, letdowns, joys, and hard bumps in life’s road of being a music star from the South.

9.   Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump is a name almost everyone has heard. Forrest Gump is a movie every American should see, but especially if you’re a Southerner. Tom Hanks portrays Forrest as he recounts the major events of his life. We see his childhood, time as a soldier, and stint as a famous runner. We see a story of grief, illness, love, and the perseverance it takes to come out of it with a positive mindset. It’s the film that taught us “life is like a box of chocolates because you never know what you’re gonna get.”

See These Movies Celebrating Southern Identity

Whether you’re a fan of fantasy, romance, comedy, drama, horror, or a little of it all, there is a Southern story waiting for you. Watch these films and enjoy the culture, music, history, and all the nuisances that make you proud to be a Southerner.


Marshall Bone is a writer, copy strategist and all-around stylish guy who has been following trends in GQ for more than two decades. Voted best-dressed both his junior and senior year, Bone has continued this legacy and can be found covering various topics from men’s fashion to self care and grooming. He enjoys reading and is based in the greater Los Angeles area.