From buddy comedies to epic action heroes, we give you our favorite road movies to scratch the vicarious travel itch.
Roads are, and have always been, a crucial element in our history and culture. They were instrumental in the creation of complex societies and the spread of resources, peoples and most importantly, ideas. Every civilization needed a road system. Without them, Rome would not become such a great Empire, China would not create a global commerce network that lasts for centuries, and the modern world would simply not exist.
But roads are also a perfect reflection of ourselves, something in which to project our emotions, fears and hopes, which is why its so present in our artistic expressions, from poetry, literature, painting and, of course, film. A road trip can potentially become a transcendental experience or the source of great trauma and suffering. The road is an allegory to a journey that is not simply geographical, but also emotional and spiritual.
In film, the road has been the stage of some of the greatest stories, and a lot of the most memorable scenes of all time. Road movies encompass all genres, from the silliest comedies to prestige dramas, from exhilarating action and adventure to dystopian sci-fi and pretty much everything in between.
To pick our 15 favorites has been a daunting task, but we have assembled a rich, diverse list, not only in genres but in eras, with films ranging from 1939 to 2016. We hope this selection inspires you to hit the road (whenever that is possible), or at least, to ease the tensions and pains of this long quarantine.
15 of the greatest road trip movies, in chronological order
Honorable mentions: It Happened One Night (1934), North By Northwest (1959), Bonnie & Clyde (1967), Duel (1971), The Cannonball Run (1981), Crossroads (1986), The Leningrad Cowboys (1989), True Romance (1993), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), Beavis & Butthead Do America (1996), Lolita (1997), The Straight Story (1999), O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000), The Motorcycle Diaries (2004), Children of Men (2006), Death Proof (2007), Locke (2013), American Honey (2016), Logan (2017).