From Academy Award winners to box-office failures, Texas has had its fair share of Hollywood glamour. Stories from our rich Texas history fall into the hands of directors, and they become a portrayal of our great State to the rest of the nation. These stories often provide insight into Texas life, culture, and ideologies. Since the Lone Star State brings so many different stories to the table, a subculture of Texas film has emerged—and it’s a big hit.
Dallas Buyer’s Club, the story of a man in Dallas struggling with HIV/AIDS recently brought fame and an Academy Award for Best Actor to Austinite Matthew McConaughey. Not only did it show just how talented this Texan is, but it brought to light the culture in Texas during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The audience got to see first-hand an almost historical account of Texas history—even if it isn’t a pretty one. But once you look a little closer at the movie, you can see subthemes of strength and the ability of Texans to rally together to protect their own. Now that’s something every Texan should be proud of.
Speaking of McConaughey, we still have not forgotten about Richard Linklater’s—a Texas bred director—original hit, Dazed and Confused. This easy-going, fun-loving movie told the story of a group of high school seniors on their last day of school in 1976. While the flick may be over twenty years old, Texans will still tell you the laid-back ambiance of Austin lives on and the anxious feelings of budding adolescents has not changed at all. This coming of age movie shows the beauty and challenges of growing up in Texas—many of which have stayed true to this day.
Linklater is no stranger to Texas movies, as he often tries to capture the Texas atmosphere in his films. In 2011, he directed Bernie, which brought movie goers into the life of an East Texas town and its residents. The film was written by Linklater and Texas Monthly’s very own Skip Hollandsworth based on Hollandsworth’s story “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas.” Linklater cast actual East Texas residents in the film to give an authentic look into the community and provide apt depictions of the town. The film delves into East Texas culture unlike any film before it, providing unique detail to an area full of original Texas flavor. Don’t worry; McConaughey is in this one too.
Portraying a more remote and rough part of Texas, No Country for Old Men brought to light the era of the Texas rangers and the increasing tensions on the border of Mexico. The country saw a glimpse of the desolate world of drug dealing and smuggling, and the film took home an Academy Award for Best Picture for its depiction of this underground world. Although the film is based on a fictional novel, themes of family, racism, and corruption make the film much more relatable to the modern day movie goer.
The movies above are only a few selections of the vast realm of Texas films. More include: Giant, Machete, Friday Night Lights, Sin City, and The Last Picture Show. Richard Linklater’s newest film, Boyhood, about a young boy growing up in Houston over the course of twelve years, has bagged itself six Oscar nominations. Another Texan director, Wes Anderson, directed films such as Rushmore (filmed in Houston), The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and many more. A University of Texas graduate, his latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, has also earned some Oscar nominations – nine to be exact.