Anyone who knows anything about movies knows that Austin is quickly becoming something of a Hollywood South, but it takes a keen knowledge of cinema history to pick out the best flicks that have been birthed out here on the prairie.
Austin.com has also covered the other side of this list — the 10 worst movies filmed in Austin — so thankfully there’s none of that to follow. No, instead we’re looking at the cream of the Texas crop, so to speak. With no further ado, these are the 10 best movies filmed in Austin, as ranked by the film buffs behind the scenes at the Internet Movie Database…
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10) “Boys Don’t Cry,” 1999
This heartbreaking tale details the plight of transgendered teen Bobby Teena, who lived as a man before his biological gender was discovered by his peers. Teena was subsequently murdered at just 21-years-old, but his story was retold on the silver screen with shocking honesty by filmmaker Kimberly Pierce.
The utterly convincing, gut-wrenching performance Hillary Swank turned in as Teena for “Boys Don’t Cry” was also enough to secure the Academy Award for “Best Actress” in 1999. One viewing and you’ll see why right away.
9) “Waking Life” (2001)
Perpetual indie film lord Richard Linklater’s first foray into cell-shaded cinematography is a joyous, mind-bending trip into the world of dreams, modern philosophy and all the beautiful contradictions that make up everyday existence. With each passing segment, actor after actor pelts the sleep-ridden main character with a torrent of ethereal knowledge and spiritual, evolutionary insights.
In fact, this filck is so artistic and brainy you might not be able to keep up, but pay close attention and you may find your whole outlook on life affected by the end.
8) “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)
Even to this day, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is not your average horror film. This unrelentingly terrifying cult classic literally carved out new space for the floundering horror genre of its day, spawning a huge family of sequels and spinoffs that to this day have not even come close to achieving the pulse-pounding tension and genuine fright the first movie inspired.
If you’ve never seen director Tobe Hooper’s original horror classic, it’s time to face the music. Pick up a copy tonight and prepare for a whole lot of screaming — some of which might be your own.
7) “Dazed and Confused” (1993)
This is one of the original high school comedies and still among the best. It’s also director Richard Linklater’s second entry on the list of best Austin movies, for good reason. This little flick helped launch the career of one Matthew Mcconaughey, comedian Adam Goldberg, actress Joey Lauren Adams (also seen in one of Austin’s worst movies) and, believe it or not, action movie star Mila Jovovich.
Of course, it’s not just star power that keeps this movie on the premium cable channels’ regular rotation: there’s something about how Linklater depicted late 1970s youth culture in Texas that absolutely nails it. And if that’s something you personally experienced, then this film is worth its weight in gold.
6) “True Grit” (2010)
A masterpiece of modern western cinema, “True Grit” tells a tale of woe and suffering through the eyes of Hailee Steinfeld’s character Mattie, a little girl determined to avenge her father’s murder however she can. Along the way she meets up with a grizzled old bounty hunter named Rooster, played by the brilliant Jeff Bridges, and the two go looking for “the coward Tom Chaney” to make him pay for his crime.
Directed by Joel and Ethan Cohen, “True Grit” will keep you on the edge of your seat right up until the agonizing finale. And while the lead actors in this film perform numerous fetes of heroism, it’s hard to get over their subdued humility, or the matter-of-fact way they conduct themselves as a means of surviving America’s last wilderness.
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