Top 10 Greatest Road Movies Of All Time

If you ever need to jump in a car with your best friend, forget your worries and travel cross-country on a life changing road trip, make sure you take some tips from these iconic road movies.

10. Road Trip (2000)

Todd Phillips started his directorial career with this hit teen comedy. Breckin Meyers stars as Josh; a college freshman who is in a long-distance relationship with his high-school sweetheart, Tiffany. Unfortunately, Josh has videotaped a one-night stand with Beth and accidentally sends the sexy escapades to Tiffany. He enlists the help of his friends to travel 1,800 miles to retrieve the tape and save his relationship. As expected, the group have a road trip filled with partying, Nubian Princesses and a boa constrictor.

9. Paris, Texas (1984)

Travis is found wandering out of the desert south of Texas after a four year absence. His brother finds him and the two return to LA where he reunites with his son. Together, they set out to locate his wife who left shortly after Travis disappeared. After its premier at the Cannes Film Festival (where it won the prized Palme D’Or), this sombre, moody drama went on to win the BAFTA for Best Director and became a cult hit.


8. My Own Private Idaho (1991)

Written and directed by Gus Van Sant, My Own Private Idaho is a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s plays Henry IV parts I and II and Henry V. Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix star as two friends who embark on a journey of personal discovery as they travel from Idaho to Italy, and the pair received particular praise for their performances in this unique indie road trip journey. Phoenix went on to win the Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival and Van Sant firmly established himself as a director to look out for.

7. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

Written and directed by John Hughes, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles stars John Candy as carefree and ever optimistic Del opposite Steve Martin’s highly strung marketing executive Neal. After Neal’s plans to fly home to his family for Thanksgiving go awry, he teams up with Del to travel cross country on a 3 day adventure of comic mishaps. John Hughes stepped outside of his comfort zone and received very favourable reviews from critics who applauded his decision to step away from the ‘teen angst’ template which made him famous. The film has a surprisingly deft touch which keeps the big characters from becoming caricatures and treads the fine line between slapstick and emotional comedy.

6. Almost Famous (2000)

Almost Famous tells the fictional story of a teenage journalist writing for Rolling Stone in the 1970s. Following up and coming rock band Stillwater, teen William accompanies them on their tour in hopes of having his first cover story published. The film is a semi-autobiographical story based on writer and director Cameron Crowe’s experiences touring with Led Zeppelin, Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and how during this period he fell in love, lost his virginity and met his heroes. Despite rave critical reviews (with particular acclaim lauded on the the screenplay and Kate Hudson in an Oscar nominated role) the film was a box office dud, grossing just over half of its budget.

5. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

This Australian comedy-drama follows two drag queens and a transexual woman as they travel across the Australian Outback in their tour bus ‘Priscilla’. During their journey, they encounter various groups and individuals in this road trip classic with a twist. The movie was a landmark for the Australian film industry and for its positive portrayal of LGBT themes and characters. Writer Stephan Elliott adapted his screenplay into a hit musical which has toured Australia, the UK and even ended up on Broadway.

4. Sideways (2004)

Thomas Haden-Church came out of retirement to star alongside Paul Giamatti in this touching drama about two best friends who embark on a week long trip into wine country just before one of them marries. Directed by Alexander Payne, Sideways grossed over $100 million on a modest $16 million budget and was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, including a win for Best Adapted Screenplay. The boozy road trip film also affected the wine industry – pinot noir (the tipple of choice for Giamatti’s grumpy connoisseur character) saw a 16% increase in sales whilst Merlot saw a 2% dip.

3. Easy Rider (1969)

Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda wrote and starred in this classic about two hippie bikers who set off on a trip across America. During their travels they encounter hitchhikers, a brothel, an alcoholic lawyer (portrayed by Jack Nicholson – who was nominated for an Academy Award) and come face to face with death. The era-defining film was an enormous success (it became the 3rd highest grossing movie of 1969) and, along with the likes of Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, it helped kickstart the New Hollywood phase of the late 60s.

2. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

When 7 year old Olive qualifies for the ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ pageant contest, her family set off in a yellow VW campervan to travel from Albuquerque to California. Her strange companions includes a mostly-normal mother, a motivational speaker father, a brother who has taken a vow of silence, a gay and suicidal uncle and a foul-mouthed grandfather. Little Miss Sunshine was a massive hit, grossing over $100 million on an $8 million budget, receiving two Academy Awards and influencing indie movies for years to come.

1. Thelma & Louise (1991)

Thelma is a bored housewife with an abusive husband, whilst Louise works in a diner and has a boyfriend who is always on the road. The two decide to break free of their normal life and embark on a road trip but after they kill a man who threatens to rape Thelma, their journey turns into a getaway. Directed by Ridley Scott, Thelma & Louise was a critical success which restructured the traditional gender roles in the road movie genre. Both Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon were nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards, and the flick helped Brad Pitt (who has a supporting role as a hitchhiker) make his first steps towards the A-list.