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10 Best Road Trip Movies of All Time

July 12, 2018
8 min read

Road trips are a way out of our stressful lives. The peregrinations with friends and family can soothe our souls. This deliverance to redemption has inspired motion pictures since the time we can remember. Losing ourselves in the lap of mother nature and the warmth of solitude can be an orgasmic and life-changing experience. Over the years, the genre has gained popularity. The films have inspired youths and teens to embark on journeys of self-discovery and an aberration from banality. These movies not only provide us with the visual splendor of nature, but also have strong plots to give us moving stories. The dramatization of road-trips has seen an exponential growth attracting the biggest names in the industry.

The genre has created a niche for itself with a very small amount of target audience. As a result, most of the movies on the genre aren’t commercial and often dwell in the shadows of the crowd-pleasers. The following is the list of top road trip movies ever made. You can watch some of these best road trip movies on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime.

10. Zombieland (2009)

Not your typical road-trip movie, this innovative amalgamation of the zombie-humor and road-trip genre remains one of a kind. The film stars Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin as the quadripartite who survive a zombie apocalypse. The story follows Columbus (Eisenberg) and his journey, where he meets other survives to free themselves of this perdition. Critical reception was mostly positive, with praise directed towards the writing, wicked humor and the performance of the main cast. Its comparisons with the 2004 movie ‘Shaun of the Dead’ were mostly positive, with the film being credited as the revival of the zombie genre.

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9. Nebraska (2013)

The black and white comedy-drama canvasses the journey of a father and son duo attempting to win a million-dollar sweep-stake prize for a long trip to Nebraska. Shooting the movie without color was a bold step, which eventually came off with the film garnering overwhelming love from critics and the audiences. The Alexander Payne helmed film was nominated for six Academy awards, without winning any. The performances, especially that of Bruce Dern and June Squibb were acclaimed as the worn-out pair, struggling with life and their marriage. Even though the film is stretched at almost two hours, the moving father-son relationship and humorous condiments of the story make the film a pleasurable watch.

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8. Sideways (2004)

Any film that Paul Giamatti features in turns out be a good one. ‘Sideways’ is no aberration. An adaptation of Rex Pickett’s novel of the same name, the engrossing comedy follows two men in their forties, Miles Raymond (Giamatti)  a depressed teacher and unsuccessful writer and Jack Cole (Thomas Haden) a past-his-prime actor, who take a week-long road trip to Santa Barbara wine country to celebrate Jack’s wedding. The recipient of four Oscar nominations and a win (Best Adapted Screenplay), the film was a critical and commercial success, raking in an impressive $107 million worldwide. The title of the movie refers to the technique used for wine bottles to age properly by keeping them sideways. It also implies in life where people must go “sideways” to keep growing and change their lives.

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7. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

This biopic road-trip movie is based on the written memoirs of a 23 year-old Ernesto Guevara, who today is known by the sobriquet Che Guevara. As well as being a road movie, the film is a coming-of age film, initially focusing on his youthful shenanigans and hedonisms, then unraveling Guevara discovers himself transformed by his observations on the life of the impoverished denizen peasantry. Trysting with destitution, being ostracized and the ongoing fascism, Che firsthand experiences the problems faced by the oppressed social classes. The film was met with critical acclaim, receiving a standing ovation at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Watch this one for self-discovery and the birth of one of the greatest revolutionary leaders of history.

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6.  Easy Rider (1969)

I hadn’t heard of the film until two days ago when I concocted the idea to do an article on road-trip movies. I found this during my research and instantly, the film became one of my favorites. Starring the ever-green Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper and newcomer Peter Fonda, the film  explores the societal landscape, issues, and tensions in the United States during the 1960s, such as the rise and fall of the hippie movement, drug use, and communal lifestyle. Extra-ordinarily, the film administered use of real drugs in all the scenes including them. The aesthetic vistas and the gory violence along with extensive use of drugs make the film a landmark  counterculture film, and a “touchstone for a generation.”

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5. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

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A drug-addicted grandfather, recently kicked out of a retirement home for snorting heroin (Yeah!), an overworked mother , who can’t seem to be at “peace”, a stay at home father with  Type A personality, an uncle who attempted suicide, a Nietzsche-reading teenage brother who has taken a vow of silence until he can accomplish his dream of becoming a test pilot. This is what 9 year-old Olive Hooper has for a family. The 101 minute long movie follows the journey of the Hooper family, and their endeavors to admit Olive in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant, a unfulfilled dream of her late grandfather. The film received four Oscar nominations and won two, also going to gross a $100 million world-wide. A must watch!

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4. The Straight Story (1999)

The film is directed by David Lynch. No, don’t put on your detective hats Sherlocks! This movie stands apart from his byzantine works. Dropping his usual style of aesthetic use of violence and sex and his baffling narratives, he keeps it simple and the result is a heart-touching film. based on the true story of Alvin Straight’s 1994 journey across Iowa and Wisconsin on a lawn-mower. Alvin (Richard Winsforth) is an elderly World War II veteran who lives with his daughter Rose (Sissy Spacek), a kind woman with a mental disability. When he hears that his estranged brother Lyle (Harry Stanton) has suffered a stroke, embarks on a journey to meet him. Not being fit enough to receive a DL, he hitches a trailer to his tractor, having a top speed of 5 mph, covering a distance of 240 miles. The film received widespread acclaim from critics and inundating love from the audiences. Winsforth received an Oscar nomination for his role, becoming the oldest recipient.

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3.  Rain Man (1988)

Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman star in this road-trip comedy, shadowing the life of the young and abrasive Charlie Babbitt, and how he discovers his estranged brother, in whose name his father avowed his fortune, Raymond, an autistic savant. The film was met with universal acclaim, with Hoffman and the sophisticated screenplay getting special praise.The film won four Academy awards out of eight nominations. Hoffman’s character is based on a real person, a close friend of the writer Barry Morrow. The film is considered one of the best ever made, not only in the road-trip genre, but all the genres!

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2. Into the Wild (2007)

Based on a true story and the novel of the same name, the film is the first major feature directed by Sean Penn. It follows the final four months of Chris McCandeless’ life, his fatal Alaska sojourn being the object of his obsession. The movie is a tale of profound irony, as Chris’ only desire, to step int the wild and live in the Alaskan wilderness, being his ultimate demise. Deftly handled and splendidly shot, the film received much praise from the industry, going on to win an Academy award as well. It also spring boarded the career of Emile Hirsch, who assumes the titular role. This saddening yet exciting tale of the great man is surely one of the best features in the genre.

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1. Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

The best road trip movie ever made. Period. Having said that, ‘Y Tu Mamá También’ is also so much more. It is sexy and funny and hip and stylish, but above all, it is affecting and melancholic. In the end, you will be surprised by how a single film could manage to evoke so many emotions. But the ultimate shock will come when you will realize how can the guy who directed this can go on to direct an awe-inspiring space movie.

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